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Local Employment Partnerships work: How ceramicist Hasan decided to stay in Bosnia and Herzegovina


23.03.2023 10:04

Hasan Gvozden was born in the village of Pridvorci near Gornji Vakuf. He says that his whole life, together with his three brothers and a sister, he struggled to survive and succeed in the difficult post-war times in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


"I spent my childhood watching what the elders were doing and "impersonating" the masters. At the end of the nineties of the last century, my family, like many others at that time, tried to start its private business, a carpentry business. We made furniture, chests of drawers, so since I was twelve years old, I've been sanding, varnishing, mostly "craftsmanship", says this thirty-two-year-old with a laugh.


When we asked him what his occupation was, he said that he had been "doing ceramics" for the past seven years, even though he graduated as salesperson from high school. "My older brother, having gone to the Republic of Croatia in search of bread, learned the ceramic business. I always "stole" the craft from my brothers, so this time too. I stood on the sidelines, watched, remembered everything they were doing, and when they weren't there, I tried to do everything myself. That's how I started doing ceramics," says Hasan.


They say that there are no coincidences and that most things in life happen for a reason. Hasan's story is a confirmation that this is indeed the case. While his brother was on the road, there was a sudden need to repair the kitchen in their house. The pottery part of the work needed to be done and Hasan told his father without thinking that he could do it. "I worked all night trying to get it right. In the morning, one of my brother's contracted clients showed up asking my brother to start work. He saw our kitchen and was delighted. Considering that my brother was not there, my father suggested that I take over the agreed job. I have agreed and I am in this business for last seven years," he adds proudly.


For some time, Hasan thought about going to Germany. While waiting for documentation for emigration, he applied for the "Start Your Business" training in his home town, which was organized by the European Union project that supports local employment partnerships.


As part of the training, he received professional support from the International Labour Organization in BiH, which helped him develop a concrete business idea, create a plan acceptable for business and start a business, while the European Union, through the LEP II project, also provided him with new machines necessary to start this work.


"I don't regret staying. I really have a lot of work, not only in Gornji Vakuf and its surroundings, but I also work in Herzegovina and other parts of the country. When I arrange work, I do it for the whole team of craftsmen – from ceramicists, plumbers to electricians. So far, there have been no objections to my work, only praise and satisfaction".


This hard-working and persistent young man never for a moment mentions the fact that, unlike many, he has one additional challenge in his daily work - Hasan is disabled and has no left hand. To our question whether this represents some kind of aggravating circumstance for him to get a job, Hasan adds: "The fear on my part was present from the beginning because I was afraid of how those who want to hire a ceramicist would react, when they see that it is to a person with a disability. But I was wrong; as soon as we start agreeing on the work and the client is convinced of my expertise and work, everything is different. Job done, all parties satisfied."


His plan is to re-register his trade into a limited liability company by the end of the year and to open a ceramics salon in Gornji Vakuf. Hasan has already found a suitable office space, as well as a company from which he would import ceramics to Bosnia and Herzegovina. In his future business endeavors, he is assisted by a team of mentors from the „Support of European Union to Local Employment Partnerships“.


"I would hire at least ten workers - ceramicists, sellers, delivery people. So, I would sell ceramics and offer delivery and installation services. Although I am aware that it is currently difficult to find qualified workers on the labor market, I believe that with the offer of a good salary and the fulfillment of other obligations to the workers, I will succeed in this. I believe that my effort and work will pay off!", concludes Hasan.

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