LEADERites arrived ahead of the weekend on 6 th May in the beautiful city of Belgrade. Serbia is a new site that the LEADER project has developed over the past year with the host organization CANSEE (Canadian Serbian Business Association). The weekend allowed us to get settled and explore the city. We soon realized how the city is awash with history and is a potpourri of cultures! The city has seen influences from the Celtic tribe, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. This makes the architecture of the city truly unique.
The classes started with an opening ceremony that involved a media launch with representatives from Serbian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Ambassador and other Serbian and Canadian business executives. This was followed by the first case and couple of lectures looking into the fundamentals for entrepreneurs.
An invitation to a wine tasting event from one of the LEADER participants was a precursor to the exciting week to unfold. The business was currently being developed by the student and was in pilot stage. The following evening was then hosted by the Embassy of Canada in Belgrade and the participants enjoyed an evening of beer and billiards!
The students were very vocal with their opinions and we saw wonderfully engaging case discussions over the whole week. Some were even quick to utilize the business concepts and apply them to the case analysis. Later in the week, the entire team got the chance to visit the premises of Schneider Electric DMS in Novi Sad, a city 80 km off Belgrade. The company is a leader in energy management firm and has its roots in a spinoff that originated from the University of Novi Sad. This was a wonderful opportunity to witness the growth of a local venture.
In addition to discussions in the classes, we have heard about business ideas that involves projects in different stages of incubation. Till now we have heard of an already developed product that looks at improving efficiencies of street lighting, developing a platform that encourages group purchases, an “ebay” for transport of goods and other interesting ideas!
The LEADERites wrapped up the week with a tour guide to “Belgrade Underground” with a visit to ancient ruins that included the Roman well, a library hall and even a World War II bunker!