At one point I saw the problem with the emigration of young people in part in the insufficient opportunity to accomplish their goals, to travel due to low living standards and to be exposed to a healthy ecological and business environment in which risk is taken and uniqueness is appreciated.
I do not judge all those who decide to achieve personal and professional accomplishment outside the borders of our beautiful Macedonia because they see their version of a success story abroad and want to provide a different life for them and their children. As a father, husband, son, friend, and entrepreneur – I had the opportunity to create my life outside my first circle of environment, but in the past 15 years, I have always left in order to return and enable the growth of the innovative and startup ecosystem in the country.
It was clear to me that every departure from my country is necessary for my development and learning of the world. At the age of 9, I somehow convinced my family to let me go with the Folklore Musical Ensemble – Karposh in Turkey and, since then, my appetite for travel has only increased, with countless seminars, conferences, programs and trainings in Japan, Switzerland, Sweden and America. I saw every travel opportunity as a way to thrive, connect and learn from successful ecosystems and a chance to engage in activities that would have a big IMPACT on my whole environment.
At one point I saw the problem with the emigration of young people in part in the insufficient opportunity to accomplish their goals, to travel due to low living standards and to be exposed to a healthy ecological and business environment in which risk is taken and uniqueness is appreciated. In this change that we all want to see, the role of the State is indisputable, with programs that should only be the accelerator of positive processes and not be a brake on progress and change of mindset. On the other hand, it is necessary to acquire work habits much earlier and to involve young people in entrepreneurship and creative thinking.
In my opinion, the change in the way of thinking would come by supporting the companies (startups) in the country created by local and international young professionals and by creating a team with great diversity. The reasons for creating Startup Macedonia in 2016 were precisely giving a voice to a new energy in the country and the needs of those entrepreneurs to create a positive change through their businesses. However, this requires a lot of resources, knowledge and time. To the question: “Which resources do we need to invest in, in order to accelerate the development and fulfill our 10-year-plan in just 3 years?”, the answer is “investing in people”. Investing in their creative business ideas in areas where they have unique knowledge and benefits. We can prove this with the fact that 70% of startups in the country managed to take advantage of the crisis in the time of Covid-19. Here, I specifically think of the support of the ICT sector and the research to support the digitalization of agriculture (Foodtech, Canabistech), IoT, Fintech, energy and the creation of well-packaged premium products that would enter the regional and global market.
Throughout the ecosystem, we strive to provide resources (human, financial and know-how) to support the business endeavors of such ambitious inspirational founders who will create global stories. Such stories will also attract international talent and influence the effect of brain gain and inspire new generations of entrepreneurs who will have the resources to create and influence positively.
Igor Madzov, an entrepreneur, an investor and a co-founder of Startup Macedonia