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Transforming Lives

Man cleans mud from his home after devastating floods of May 2014 in Maglaj, BiH.

The year 2014 will always be remembered in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH): It was the year when deadly floods and landslides destroyed everything in their path. Houses, schools, hospitals, businesses, farms and crops were devastated. Damages are in the billions of dollars. Recovery will be long and hard. 

Emin Hodzic (L) and Adnan Mujic present their winning Light Docs business concept at the Balkan startup competition in May 2014.

It seemed like a long shot to four young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) when they decided to see if their business ideas could stand up to scrutiny and garner support from a USAID program to help innovative—and hard-working—youth like them. But since then, they have won first and second place in a regional competition for startup business ideas, and have been invited to present their concepts at a major conference in London, for all the tech investment world to see.

Alma Čamdžić, owner of the Alma Derm company in BiH.

Using the natural resources of Konjuh Mountain in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Alma Čamdžić and her sister started a home business two years ago, reviving the old trade of soap making and production of natural cosmetics. Like hundreds of other enthusiasts and small entrepreneurs in BiH, they have tied their careers to the development of tourism potential.

Trained professionals work with children at Bosnia’s first Service Center for Children with Disabilities.

Until now, children with developmental disabilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and their parents had no place to go for even a small respite from the extraordinary difficulties and stress in their daily lives. Now there is one place that offers them a soft, safe place to land, if only for a while.

Zorica Mekic of Sekovici learned beekeeping through USAID’s “Women’s Empowerment Through Farming” Project.

Until recently, supporting herself with her own income was not even a possibility for Zorica Mekic, a 38-year-old mother of three who lives in Sekovici, one of the poorest municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Mekic managed to finish primary school but had not even learned to drive when the Bosnian war broke out in spring 1992.