The morning sessions focused on personal finance and financing for SMEs while the afternoon sessions tackled the issue of air pollution in North Macedonia and the recipe for success from four young and successful entrepreneurs.
Elizabeth Naumovski shared her parent’s story as Macedonian immigrants to Canada and provided insights from her TV show ‘Finance is Personal’. She explained how social media and the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is pushing people into debt with all its stresses. The solution can be summarised by ABCDEFG: Accountability, Budget, Communication, Discipline, Education, Frugal living and Goal setting.
At the session ‘Financing Options for SME’, it was concluded that SME make up 99.7 percent of companies in Macedonia. Macedonian SME find it difficult to get access to finance. The Fund for Innovation and Technology Development and private fund investors such as South Central Ventures provide new forms of funding, particularly for ICT companies. Chambers of Commerce are also working with the government and banks to help provide greater flexibility in their products for SME.
All environmental issues should be seen through the lens of climate change
The middle sessions tackled the issue of air pollution. Recent international evidence has found that air pollution is a major health risk i.e. fifth largest cause of mortality worldwide. The government is increasing the number of monitoring stations and police patrols to identify the sources of air pollution. The city of Skopje is working with the EBRD Green Cities initiative to tackle air pollution through gas-powered buses. Solutions are also needed to help the poor to find better solutions for home heating. Waste management is also a big part of the solution because of the burning of waste; the government is working with municipalities in the North-East to build a world-class landfill site with international funding. Jonathan Banks, Senior Policy Advisor at Clear Air Task Force (CATF) suggested that all environmental issues should be seen through the lens of climate change, which is the biggest existential environmental threat. Moreover, Mihail Stevchev, Founder of Treebanks is taking a very practical approach, whereby he is challenging local companies to plant trees. In addition, Olga Rajcikj presented her brand new mobile application called ‘Challenger’, encouraging individual’s sustainable habits that bring a green and positive change in local communities.
In the last session, four young stellar Macedonian entrepreneurs, from Forbes 30 under 30 list, shared some lessons from their path to success. They pointed out the importance of hard work, having a good team, and motivating that team. Salaries are important, but people work hard when they are inspired and led by example. People rarely leave companies because of salary. Young entrepreneurs can also give back through internships, as internships provide skills that schools cannot.
In the closing session, Mike Zafirovski, Co-Founder of Macedonia2025 and Vera Stavroff, Chairwoman of the Board addressed the audience. Finally, the CEO of Macedonia 2025, Nikica Mojsoska Blazhevski, reiterated Macedonia 2025’s mission for making Macedonia better. We need to execute and help each other succeed.