By: Dr Wilfred Isak April
Dubroutra (meaning Good Morning - Croatian greeting). The one interesting and very important lesson I learned this week is that we have to try and live life to the fullest.
I guarantee you, we all do not know what exactly we will be doing or where will be in a week’s time. Perhaps a millionaire or maybe dead? We do not know and uncertainty is the most fascinating thing in life.
In all your troubles and challenges, an exciting entrepreneurial opportunity awaits to be discovered. This reminds me of a story about two shoe salesmen that were sent to the Australian outback to sell shoes. The first one reported that there was no business in that specific area, as no one wears shoes.
The second one said there were amazing business opportunities, because no one wears shoes!! I encourage you to make each minute count, because life is too short.
This week I am writing to you from the “jewel” of Europe Dubrovnik – Croatia. Mr Erwee (the Unam mathematics guru) and I joined a number of outstanding scholars at the annual academic interdisciplinary conference.
It was exciting to catch up by surprise with some of the world’s top ˝entrepreneurship scholars˝ such as Leo Paul Dana at this conference.
Discussions range from using drama as a creative teaching method in universities, laws of war, family businesses in the United Arab Emirates, entrepreneurship in Alaska and entrepreneurship amongst Namibian Herero people, which was our paper.
The medieval city of Dubrovnik boasts one of the most scenically dramatic and thrilling coastlines on earth. The lands that today comprise Croatia were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the close of World War I. In 1918, the Croats, Serbs and Slovenes formed a kingdom known after 1929 as Yugoslavia.
Following World War II, Yugoslavia became a federal independent communist state.
After difficult times, Croatia gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Croatia is known as one of the wealthiest Yugoslavia republics, however the economy suffered badly during the war from 1991-1995.
Under communism, entrepreneurship was not widely developed and frowned upon as a dishonourable pursuit, though noticeable changes can be seen after the fall of communism.
Women often suffer the most when it comes to getting support for their entrepreneurial initiatives, as society has the assumption that women are confined to domestic affairs. At times, most women prefer to give up their entrepreneurial ideas before they even had the chance to develop them.
After learning extensively about this great nation in a classroom setting it was time to explore the entrepreneurial initiatives of the Croatian people at the market place. We rolled up our sleeves and learnt by doing and seeing the reality on the ground.
From my personal observation, in most restaurants immigrants who are usually male employees are waiters or owners of restaurants. It appears that it is still a masculine society. Women are usually seen walking along the beach with their children.
It is a very calm, laid-back society and an extremely helpful and friendly people.
For 12 kunas (the national currency of Croatia –approx. N$15) we took a bus to the old, city where the Rectors Palace is based.
The Rector’s Palace is one of the old city’s most impressive buildings, once home to the most powerful man. Today this palace has been turned into an entrepreneurial trading centre. Most of the small shops are restaurants, however clothing and jewellery stores can also be found on each corner of the palace.
The rich history and the diverse culture of the Croatians are engraved on the walls of the palace. My dear reader, picture yourself in a palace on an island wrapped in greenery. This I must say is an amazing experience.
At the far end of the palace, the ferry awaits the guest and is ready to take you to the nearby islands.
From 8pm, young men and women, regardless of which day of the week it is, can be seen entering the courtyard, dressed to dance the night away, to the traditional Croatian sounds.
Did you know; that Croatia is the home of the Cravat (the men’s tie).
The Cravat means responsibility, elegance, style and success.
All along a number of us were of the opinion that it was from France or Italy.
My dear readers, I have to sign off now, as the next bus is waiting for me, to travel to the neighbouring Montenegro, and I believe a lot of new, adventurous and exciting entrepreneurial opportunities are waiting to be explored by an African in Europe.
Next week I will tell you more about Montenegro. From the Nissan advert: I conclude, Life is a journey, enjoy the ride!