Since launching a private business is rife with temptations and challenges, one must have a clear goal and recognise the opportunity to develop one’s own business, we were told by Predrag Stamenković, a Negotin entrepreneur who manufactures aluminium and PVC doors and windows and iron fences. Stamenković Pro Negotin is one of the enterprises across Serbia that was provided with the opportunity to improve the quality of their products and double the number of successful clients through the EU PRO Programme.
The Stamenković Pro Negotin enterprise has been manufacturing and installing metal and PVC doors and windows since 2017. It manufactures custom-made aluminium and PVC doors and windows and aluminium and iron fences.
Predrag spent years learning how to make and install aluminium and PVC doors and windows before he launched his own business. Over time, he realised that his knowledge and skills exceeded his business opportunities at the time, so he came up with the idea of going into business himself. “I bought the tools slowly, first the ones I could not work without. I started from scratch, but I took a deep breath and started,” says Predrag, recalling the difficulties he faced at the start. Business was slow at the beginning, because he had limited quantities and types of tools. But the clients were becoming more and more interested in his products. He was unable to meet the growing demand. Predrag then realised he had to invest more money if he wanted to develop his business. Unfortunately, he was unable to raise funds himself, despite all his diligence and savings. But, one always finds a way to achieve a goal once one sets it clearly.
“One day, when I came back from work, my wife told me she saw EU PRO’s Call for Proposals offering grants to businesses on the Internet and said that we should apply. We had never applied for subsidies before and we weren’t holding out much hope for such calls. We decided to give it a try and our years-long dream finally came true,” Predrag tells us enthusiastically and adds: “Before the grant, I was working on a single head cutting machine which was not precise, so that the process was quite slow and complicated. Thanks to the EU grant, we were able to buy a new double head aluminium cutter machine, which has sped up the process and improved the quality of our products. My business could finally grow so I hired a worker. My business is finally thriving and I am extremely satisfied,” Predrag concludes.
Stamenković Pro Negotin plans to invest in the development of production and expansion of its production capacity and to employ new workers in the coming years. “The EU grant has provided me with the possibility to develop my business properly. We can now accept more clients, sure that they will get quality products and prompt service. Our clients who are now recommending us all over Negotin are the best testimony of our work,” Predrag tells us frankly.
Stamenković Pro Negotin has made a donation to the Branko Radičević primary school in Negotin within its corporate social responsibility activities, a mandatory element of the implementation of the project. “I am extremely glad we have together succeeded in improving the schooling conditions for our pupils and that the children are now studying in classrooms fitted with new PVC windows, mosquito nets and shelves. And they’re warmer, too,” concludes Predrag Stamenković from Negotin.
Stamenković Pro Negotin is just one of over 200 small businesses in the regions of Šumadija and West Serbia, South and East Serbia to which the EU granted funding via the EU PRO Programme to boost production and employment. The EU secured over 4.3 million Euros to support businesses across Serbia in cooperation with the Ministry for European Integration.
The activities of EU PRO, a Programme contributing to the more balanced socio-economic development of Serbia, are supported by the European Union with over €25 million. The Programme aims to contribute to increasing the competitiveness of micro and small enterprises, improving the business environment and strengthening social cohesion in 99 local self-government units, in two regions: the Region of Šumadija and Western Serbia and the Region of Southern and Eastern Serbia. The activities in the field are implemented by UNOPS.