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Balkans.com: Thank you for taking the time for interview with Balkans.com Business News.
You are the General Manager of Center for Entrepreneurship and Executive Development (CEED) in FYR Macedonia. Could you introduce your company to our readers?
Jovan Madjovski: The mission of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Executive Development (CEED) is to provide entrepreneurs and their executive teams the know-how and networks they need to accelerate the growth of their businesses and to promote an entrepreneurial culture in the broader society. With on-the-ground centers in Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, (FYR) Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, new centers in Armenia and Bangladesh, and new outreach activities in 2013 to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland and Turkey, CEED promotes private sector development, assists the growth of SMEs, creates jobs, and contributes to economic stability.
CEED Macedonia started in 2007 as a fifth center in the network with only 3 employees. During its 5 years of operation, CEED Macedonia has managed to position itself on the local market as a unique and innovative business support services provider that designs and delivers management, leadership and personal development learning programs and business consulting services. Our team has grown along with the range of provided services and today CEED Macedonia team counts 14 employees. Our approach is to combine own CEED resources with consultants and experts in relevant fields.
Balkans.com: Your company provides wide range of trainings and consulting services to entrepreneurs. Could you tell us more about it?
Jovan Madjovski: CEED’s objective is to create a supportive community of like-minded entrepreneurs and support them and their key managers in the development and growth of their businesses. Key deliverables include capacity building training programs that focus on practical knowledge complemented with experience sharing and mentoring by successful local business leaders, access to finance, and a strong regional and international network. The implementation of the CEED Top Class Programs has been our core activity since our establishment in September 2007. Till now, five generations of this program were attended by over 150 (FYR) Macedonian entrepreneurs and managers ready to pay almost market prices for such innovative learning experience.
CEED Top Class is an exclusive training program in which pre-screened young entrepreneurs and managers are enrolled in one-year development, educational, creative and most of all practical programs based on exchange of experiences and ideas, mentorship sessions and networking. Besides the CEED Top Class Program, our portfolio includes 12 other training programs. Some of them include CEED Finance for Entrepreneurs, CEED Marketing, CEED Middle Management Program, CEED Entrepreneurs Program (for companies up to 10 employees). Repeated clients and several generations of each of these programs are our proud results so far.
Balkans.com: Is the need for constant improvement recognized by entrepreneurs in your country?
Jovan Madjovski: Unfortunately, not. CEED is a pioneer in changing this mentality of “I know everything”, “I don’t have time for constant improvement”, “who else is going to be there”, “who will teach me”, etc. Fortunately, we have the right answers to all of those questions and we ar changing the entrepreneurs attitude towards personal development. Most of the entrepreneurs do nothing on this field – MBA or master studies are too complex, long, not practical, too expensive and require big dedication and sacrifice of personal and business time; on the other hand doing nothing is not keeping them in “business and leadership shape”.
We create a relaxed atmosphere where entrepreneurs can learn, debate, ask, meet each other, create relationships, do business among themselves, and help each other.
Most of the entrepreneurs are great entrepreneurs but unfortunately weak managers and in certain stage of the life cycle of the business this is becoming a block for growth or even ajeopardy. So acquiring management skills prom practitioners, from other entrepreneurs like them (or slightly “better” so that the ego is not awaken), networking opportunities and mentoring is what is makes our offer unique and appropriate for the entrepreneurs. However, readiness to pay the market price for such a development program is the greatest challenge in these times of crises and only the really open-minded entrepreneurs, those who have a vision beyond the crisis and those see the through benefits of the knowledge era, business contacts and mentors are investing in knowledge, networks and practical business know-how.
Balkans.com: You are a Country Manager for FYR Macedonia, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Could you tell us about the problems entrepreneurs in small and medium companies face in those countries? Are they similar?
Jovan Madjovski: Very similar but also with specific differences in the mentality, orientation towards results, level of grey economy, orientation towards regional markets and readiness to take the business beyond the closed family type of business – to the next level of involving professional managers and middle managers and setting regional offices. Learning the specifics of each market takes time and hiring the right local people is a challenge #1 for everybody extending beyond the borders of their own country.
Balkans.com: Could you tell us about your plans for the coming years?
Jovan Madjovski: CEED Macedonia becomes an export oriented organization – we export our know-how, lessons learned and best practices to other markets that are new and rising for CEED such as Albania, Bosnia, Moldova, Serbia....In the segment of the entrepreneurial programs we continue with designing new programs to match the needs of our customer such as Succession Management, Go to market (for companies launching a new product on the market) export readiness, short but powerful programs on delegating, couching, time management, performance appraisal....We have an internal rule of designing and implementing minimum one new program per year....
My focus for 2013 will be our CEED Regional Entrepreneurs and Managers Club – expending the number of activities and sections to include micro businesses and middle managers – slowly creating a professional club for entrepreneurs and managers where they can focus internally, as a profession, on themselves – how to be better, follow the trends in management and not externally towards governments and business environment that they can’t change fast enough to affect their immediate business needs.
Balkans.com: As a co-founder of two private companies, you are familiar with challenges of developing and growing a business. What advice could you give to our readers who plan to invest or are interested in doing business in the region?
Jovan Madjovski: I have been active investor in businesses and my recommendations are:
Don’t hesitate, test, start, sell a lot, develop your people, sell less, develop yourself, stop selling-start managing, set targets for each employee, continue to develop your people and yourself, hire professional managers, be careful (analytical) when expending your new businesses /services/products, monitor results and enjoy as an owner of a successful business. Depending from the industry this business cycle takes from 10 to 30 years.
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