Entrepreneurs are soldiers of peace, growth and prosperity of today’s dynamic global world.
It is an honor and a privilege to be the winner of the prestigious Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Global Entrepreneurship Award for Best Entrepreneur. My professional life journey was filled with challenges and difficulties, but my hope and drive to make things better was never lost. This award comes unexpectedly especially because it feels that my mission is just starting.
The post war environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina needed tangible economic and entrepreneurship solutions. In 2006, after graduating from Young Professional program of Islamic Development Bank (IDB), opportunity was presented to me with the leadership challenge as CEO of Bosna Bank International (BBI). BBI was established by Islamic Development Bank (IDB), Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) and Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) in October of 2000. During my tenure as CEO, BBI solidified its market position in all business segments and positioned itself among the top ten best performing banks in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We were able to apply innovative leadership practices which drove Bank’s increase in profitability. BBI assets increased by almost 400%, financings portfolio by 720% and deposits by 664%.
Despite our significant efforts, the economy in Bosnia was stagnant and lacking entrepreneurs with business skills and investors to implement viable projects. At that point the question was what needs to be done to develop entrepreneurs and unite the region that was once at war. In 2010, those questions gave birth to the very first and now leading Regional Investment Business Forum - Sarajevo Business Forum. Declared as one of the most important economic events in Southeast Europe and Bosnia and Herzegovina in postwar period, SBF gathers more than 1,000 participants each year with only goal to foster economic development of the region through business networking and attraction of direct foreign investments. Today, It makes us proud that strategic vision of Sarajevo Business Forum (SBF) not only resulted in key tangible effects for the society and the Bosnian economy but is an ongoing generator of future entrepreneurs and mentors.
In 2013, it was an honor to be elected to the Steering Committee of Summit 100 business leaders of Southeast Europe for future economic and business cooperation in the region. This provides the opportunity to share the responsibility for creating a vision for strengthening the competitiveness of the national economies, but also of the overall competitiveness potential of Southeast Europe.
In parallel with working with investors and business elite, the primary focus was always on the importance of creating future leaders and entrepreneurs. This is why we provide mentorship support and guidance for young generations through BBIs Young Professionals program. We are proud and happy that graduates of this program are engaged professionally in leadership positions within BBI and other organizations in Bosnia and globally.
Young Professionals program at BBI, based on IDB model was an inspiration to do more in building a better world and create similar opportunities for future generations. In 2014, we launched a Leadership and Entrepreneurship Center (LEC) as an educational unit of International University of Sarajevo (IUS) that provides specific trainings for IUS students, improves their knowledge, know-how and prepares them for the business world. The vision is that this type of training will create a chain of knowledge and experience adaptable to any business organization and a startup. The future young entrepreneurs and innovators will become a driving force for the economic development of our society.
My link to importance of education with young generations has roots within the First Bosniak High School. In 1998, Introduction to International Relations was designed and implemented - first course ever to be taught in English language within the High school Bosnian education system. After that, the idea was born that they adopt the Cambridge International Program for new generations of global citizens. They welcomed the idea and now they are proud to be recognized as the most elite high school in the country.
Lessons for young entrepreneurs
Every society depends on high performance entrepreneurship for prosperity and growth. Entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial skills are the core or the essence for today’s global world to go into peace and prosperity. Since we are faced with exponential population growth worldwide, it is becoming a greater challenge to create employment for all. It is entrepreneurs who step it up and create employment and by doing this they drive stability and build prosperity. Entrepreneurs are soldiers of peace, growth and prosperity of today’s dynamic global world. This is my vision and it is what I strongly believe.
Human capital is the most important resource of any society. Therefore, young entrepreneurs need to take ownership and contribute back to their communities. Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world for the better. Search for solutions within your own communities - each entrepreneur needs to be a part of their community and to recognize and offer it what it needs. The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, has taught us: “The upper hand is better than the lower hand. It is upper hand that is dominant and giving. My message to young entrepreneurs is that you should be those who are giving and creating employment rather than receiving. To do that exceptional hardship is needed. It is only through hardship you will create success as taught by Ibn Khaldun and only with courage you will take steps to lead you into successful entrepreneurship as taught by Hegel. Still, this is not enough. Alongside hardship and courage you should be very successful in planning because planning brings long term success as taught by practice of Prophet Jusuf (p.b.u.h.).
Today’s leaders should invest in future generations. Build your enterprise to last for the next 100 years. Build new generations and plan from day one as taught by the example of Prophet Moses (p.b.u.h.)
BBI Bank has been awarded twice with ‘Superbrand’ award for the best image among financial institutions and three consecutive ‘The most desirable employer in financial services sector’ awards.
Mr. Bukvić was awarded by Independent Association of European Managers as ‘Best Manager in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Southeast Europe’ conferring him the award for achieving significant business success profitability, innovativeness and best management practices in banking industry. He was also presented with the prestigious ‘Person of the Year’ award in 2010 by the Daily Newspaper ‘San’ in Bosnia and Herzegovina for his contribution to economic development of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Mr. Bukvić was also awarded the ‘Medallion of the City of Sarajevo’ in 2011 for his contribution to raising international profile of the City of Sarajevo and its development. In 2012 he was awarded with the Charter of International League of Humanists the highest recognition “Aurelio Peccei” for humane and ethical human resources management, contribution to creation of new jobs, prosperity and attraction of foreign direct investments in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The award was handed by Stjepan Mesic, former President of Croatia.
Also, for his leadership role in banking industry, Perdana Leadership Foundation Malaysia (PLFM) awarded Mr. Bukvić as ‘Best manager in Banking Industry of Bosnia and Herzegovina 2013’, the award handed by PLFM Founder and Chairman Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammad, former Prime Minister of Malaysia.