The wood industry in Serbia has great potential for development. The country has a plentiful supply of high quality raw base materials and a pool of workers skilled in processing wood to form finished wood products, furniture and paper. In recent years, however, this sector of the country’s economy has been hampered by outdated equipment, scattered resources and a lack of expertise in the latest sector-specific skills, such as computer-aided design and manufacturing and coating.
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Serbian prisons suffer from serious overcrowding. According to 2011 data from the country’s Administration for Execution of Penitentiary Sanctions (AEPS), its prisons house approximately 11,000 detainees, nearly 5,000 more inmates that they can officially collectively accommodate. The prison population has been growing steadily since the 1990s and this growth looks unlikely to abate in the near future. The overcrowding has meant that many educational programmes for prisoners have been cut and their prospects for finding work upon release significantly reduced. This leads to increased re-offending among detainees, and the continued over-population of prisons.
Got a great business idea? If so, you might be in need of support and networking opportunities to help get it off the ground. In Serbia, female entrepreneurs, who still form a minority in the business world, often turn to the Belgrade-based Association of Business Women in Serbia (ABW) for such assistance. Established in 1998, this women-run organisation promotes female entrepreneurship within the community and among policy-makers, and also helps its members find the technical support they might need to make their business a success.
“This is the first time that we’ve ever gone to school as our mother didn’t allow us to go to school. She was always afraid that someone would kidnap us and each time the school year started, she would take us somewhere else. The police and social workers would come to our door, but she would hide us away each time. She died three years ago, and we got our second chance at an education.”
Serbia’s position within the Balkans, at the crossroads of European and Asian trading routes, brings it many social and economic benefits. It has also brought problems, most of them stemming from the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s. During these difficult years, a breakdown in the rule of law, political instability, high unemployment, corruption and porous borders all created the ideal environment in which organised crime groups could operate.
Prior to beginning of accession talks with the European Union, some 200 Serbian public and civil servants from central and local administrations have been trained in best European practices, so to share with their colleagues and be ready to adjust in the country’s integration process.
“The Fruit drier managed by the Association is currently in trial mode and next year it will be fully engaged in new packaging and product placement in foreign markets, thanks to the project Garden of Serbia.”