Irish Experts Assist Western Balkan Tech Companies.

Dublin – June 12, 2013:  Following the recent announcement that former Irish Ambassador to the US & Mexico, Sean Donlon, has been nominated by the Government as Ireland’s representative on the Board of the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD), we can also report that several Irish business people are working on behalf of the EBRD as advisors to ICT companies in the Balkans, most notably in Bosnia and Herzegovina. At a conference organised by the EBRD Small Business Support team in Sarajevo on 4-5 June, three Irish ICT industry veterans presented to the local ICT industry on such topics as “Exporting IT products and services to the EU”, “Developments in the Software Business” and “The role of Technology and Enterprise Supports” in stimulating the growth of entrepreneurship and enterprise.

“An important step for readiness to join the EU relates to economic growth and stability.  This must be underpinned by implementing business best practices and good corporate governance in the private sector.  This is where myself, Cian Kinsella and Pat Divilly are able to assist IT companies in the region based on our and Ireland’s experience“, said Declan Kavanagh, one of the Irish ICT specialists working in the region.

The tragic history surrounding the wars of the 1990s is well known.  However, over the two decades that followed, the international community – and the EBRD and the European Union in particular -have supported the Western Balkans countries’ efforts to reconstruct and develop their economies.  Most are at various stages of preparation to join the EU, with Croatia becoming the first new member from the region when it joins next month.  Developing businesses and the private sector is a fundamental part not only of the recovery process, but also of moving forward.

“This is a win-win for the EU and its neighbours in the Balkan States, and it lives up to the founding ideals which can be traced back to the Treaty of Rome” said Mr Kavanagh. “The EU has significant projected shortfalls in the supply of ICT skills over the coming years and countries like Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and others in the Balkans can provide both skills and services at competitive prices.  They can build a thriving IT sector, thus assisting their post war recovery, maintaining stability and preparing them for membership of the EU in the future.”

“There are limited  public sector enterprise  supports like we have here in Ireland and certainly there is scope for these countries to learn from the success Ireland  has had in the IT sector  through the Industrial Development Authority (IDA), which successfully promotes foreign direct investment into Ireland,  and Enterprise Ireland ( EI ) who successfully support indigenous enterprises to start up and scale.”, said Cairin O’Connor, who is advising on the development of a privately funded enterprise park initiative in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“It is the appointment of Mr Donlon with his credentials, as  a senior civil servant Sean Donlon has seen Ireland develop from an economic backwater.   Ireland was still a relatively poor country in 1978 when he was appointed as Ambassador to the U.S.  and one of his priorities was to help the IDA to secure investment in Ireland. Of course FDI has been one of the Irish success stories. The work of the EBRD and its advisors such as the team from Ireland that can leverage  our Irish expertise to helping our European neighbours”, said Mr. Kavanagh.

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