What is the Challenge?
The Embassy of Sweden in Sarajevo is pleased to have launched The Challenge – an invitation for companies to compete for financial support for their business ideas.
The purpose of the Challenge is to support the private sector in BiH by providing grants, i.e. non-repayable funds, to projects which deliver both commercial benefits for the private sector and development benefits for the population in BiH, for example in terms of job creation and income improvements. The grants will give enterprises the opportunity to implement innovative and commercially viable business ventures in BiH. The fund will award grants to provide partial funding, of up to 50% of accepted proposal budgets – with a maximum grant size of EUR 30 000- to registered Bosnian or Swedish micro and small enterprises operating, or setting out to operate, in BiH. It is expected that the selected project proposals will be implemented within a 12 month period.
There has been a total of three calls for proposals during the period 2013-2015. The grants are given for a one-year period in the normal case. In total an estimated SEK 4,5 million (approx. EUR 500 000) will be provided in grants to a total of 27 companies. The first call for proposals took place in the fall of 2013, the second call for proposals during the spring of 2014 and the third call for proposals was held in the fall of 2014.
Only applications in English will be accepted. Also, it is only possible to apply via the online form which is available on this website during the three respective calls for proposals. The online form is the first application stage. Based on the online application the short-listed candidates will be contacted and screened before the final selection of applicants is considered by our Advisory Committee.
The Swedish Embassy in BiH regularly receives requests for support of various business ventures. In addition, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency supports the use of challenge funds targeting different development issues and sees this tool as a creative problem-solving mechanism. Consequently, the Embassy is exploring the use of a challenge fund targeted towards enterprise development.
What is a Challenge Fund?
Challenge funds invite companies to compete for support for good ideas in the same way that researchers apply for funds from a research foundation. Project proposals are measured against each other in an evaluation process based on predetermined and fixed criteria.
Challenge funds are always set up to meet specific objectives. The objective of this particular challenge fund is to stimulate enterprise development in BiH and technology transfer to BiH. Promotion of innovation is also a key objective. The Challenge attempts, with fairly small financial incentives, to reduce the risk for entrepreneurs in Sweden and BiH to engage in start-ups and expansion of micro and small enterprises in BiH. More information about challenge funds in general can be found here.
The Challenge is managed by the Embassy of Sweden in Sarajevo with some consultancy support. A team of qualified researchers and monitoring consultants are contracted to assist in the continuous evaluation of the selected projects. The management team will monitor the selected projects and provide feedback on areas of improvement and key learning points. The Embassy has the final responsibility and accountability for the performance of the initiative.
The Advisory Committee (AC) is an integral element of the Challenge. The AC is comprised of independent professionals with high standing and ample experiences from business start-ups and entrepreneurship in Sweden and in BiH and who have an interest in promoting business development and cooperation between the countries. The AC is charged with the responsibility to review and suggest which of the projects recommended by the Fund Manager should be funded.
The AC members are selected on their merits as investors or entrepreneurs and integrity is a key criteria. All AC members, as well as all project members, have signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). The decision of the committee cannot be appealed by the applicants.
The Challenge is a grant fund and we will not provide any technical assistance to enterprises in the application phase, nor to the winners of the grants. However, links and connections will to some extent be provided through other Swedish supported private sector projects in BiH or relevant actors in Sweden.