Ana Grujović, director of the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce – The New Ways Of Working

Digital solutions empower SSCC in navigating COVID-hit Swiss-Serbian markets

The traditional, Swiss Raclette evening, hosted by then Swiss Ambassador, H.E. Guex, was the SSCC’s opening event of the year 2020. This was followed by the annual General Assembly, held in the Nestlé premises,  and Members’ Reunion; which took place in the premises of our member-company ‘’Mokra Gora School of Management’’ in March 2020.

Ana Grujović, director of the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce

Since March and the beginning of pandemics, the new ways of working have challenged our traditional organization structures and practices. Our first response to the newly-established economic situation was the joint initiative with 11 other bilateral chambers of commerce in Serbia: the official letter was immediately sent to the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Serbia to implement additional measures of support to small and medium enterprises that are facing a drop in activities or a total cessation of activities due to coronavirus.

As many other business organizations, SSCC has had to switch overnight to remote working arrangements, regularly providing COVID-19-related information and introducing digital tools and solutions. In the first months of lockdown, SSCC focused on providing rapid, regular and up-to-date information on COVID-19 related developments and government support programmes. Most of the enquiries received from our members included travel-related issues, economic measures of support to the economy and getting the right contacts.

In the following months, SSCC focused on strengthening the cooperation with institutional partners, both in Serbia and Switzerland. Working together with the Customs Administration of the Republic of Serbia, we enabled our members to find out more about the novelties introduced by the new Customs Law. Then, an online conference entitled ‘’Dual education: opportunities and challenges during and after COVID-19’’ took place in cooperation with the Serbian Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, with special guest-experts: Dr. Ursula Renold and Dr. Gabrijela Grujić. The event was organized as part of the project of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation “Support in Development and Establishment of the National Model of Dual Education”.

At the same time, SSCC has recognized the potential of the ICT market for the Swiss-Serbian economic cooperation and looked for new ways to attract more Swiss companies to the Serbian market. The idea was supported by our Swiss partner, Switzerland Global Enterprise. On November 19, 2020, Switzerland Global Enterprise S-GE held the webinar entitled ” ICT Landscape in Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia” in cooperation with the Bulgarian-Swiss Chamber of Commerce, Swiss-Romanian CC and the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce. The event attracted approx. 50 registered participants, including IT companies from Zurich and Lugano. On this occasion, Mrs. Katalin  Dreher-Hajnal, S-GE Senior Consultant Central Eastern Europe, stated the following: ‘’ The ICT markets in Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania with their highly skilled and motivated employees are offering great potential of collaboration for the Swiss ICT companies. The talent pool of educated students and the comparably low wages as well as the geographical and cultural proximity are the key success factors. I hope, our event could enhance the dialog of the ICT community and foster future collaboration’’

Furthermore, S-GE allowed the SSCC business community to discover the impact of COVID-19 on the Swiss economy during the webinar held in September 2020, when we welcomed representatives of the biggest Swiss business associations: Economiesuisse and Swissmem.

Also, our seminars became online events, and they focused on different topics such as cyber-security, e-commerce, HR in the pandemics era, digital marketing, etc. Many of them were implemented in cooperation with SSCC members, such as Adecco, Confida Consulting, Sky Express, law office Atanasković Božović, Smart Point, TSG Law office, etc.

During the summer, when the movement became easier, SSCC representatives visited the new Swiss investor in Svilajnac, the Basel-based company ‘’Regent Lighting’’. This world-known producer of lighting equipment and provider of provide smart connected lighting solutions, plans to invest EUR 4 mllion in the first four years and employ 120 workers. I am happy to say that this company is now part of the SSCC community.

In order to enable our members to network more, with no time and travel-restrictions, SSCC decided to enforce its online presence and create LinkedIn members-only groups. This gave SSCC members an additional opportunity to grow valued connections, promote their products and services, and help do better and more with their businesses.

For the end of the year, we organized the online conference ”Digital Transformation of Healthcare Ecosystem”  in cooperation with Roche d.o.o.

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