Cluster – A Chance for Women’s Entrepreneurship Development


Author: Prof. Vesna Rusić, Cluster manager, Founder of the council for clusters at the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (PKS), leader of the lobbying group at the council for clusters of PKS

Linking production, science and education today is a necessary condition for increasing competitiveness. The conquest of new markets and new technologies and creation of new jobs without the participation of related institutions becomes unmanageable. Economy which wants successful development and good business results has to provide conditions for creating strong relationships with the production of scientific research and educational institutions.

Networking in the cluster thus becomes a necessity for economic development. Shared vision, shared strategy, and the same goal – to succeed, becomes possible and feasible through the cluster. Creativity, innovation and vision of the clusters – in spite of the increasing globalization – provide a long-term advantage for enterprises. Well-organized and properly managed cluster management with effective and competent managers will use the competitive advantages of clusters. In addition, it will ensure its place in the market and will enable its growth and development.

In Serbia the year of 2012 is marked as the year of women`s entrepreneurship. Hereby I am outlining the links which refer to the tight connection between the expanding women`s entrepreneurship and clusters as an effective recipe for further networking, education and joint market.


Clusters are geographic concentrations of interconnected companies, specialized suppliers, service providers, firms in related industries and associated institutions (universities, development, agencies, local self-government and associations) that compete and cooperate.

Cluster objectives

  • joint applied start the exploration and development,
  • encouraging innovation,
  • joint marketing,
  • new markets,
  • joint procurement,
  • education and training,
  • using synergy effects,
  • lobbying and interest representation.


The more important steps in cluster development are: competition, collaboration, cooperation, joint venture and common future.

New profession – cluster manager

The main role of a cluster manager is to be a seeker for synergies. The cluster manager needs to possess full knowledge of the natural cluster and be a manager for all those within and outside the cluster.

The cluster manager must have a set of abilities and skills, just like a good athlete at decathlon!

What’s also of importance is strategic overview and understanding, deep and true interaction with other parts of the triple helix (especially with the Government). Perhaps most important is to be a consensus maker and wisely win over the support of dedicated entrepreneurs within the cluster.

European clusters

CLUSTER EUROPEAN CONFERENCE (World-Class Renewing European Industry) was held in Brussels from 29. 09 – 1. 10. 2010.

The conference, organized by the Directorate for Enterprise and Industry of the European Commission and a number of European associations of clusters, was devoted to consideration of the role of clusters in the reconstruction of European industry, the targets set within the strategy of Europe 2020.

The main message of the Brussels conference is that clusters are the bearers of the new European industrial policy and it supports the establishment of national associations of the clusters.

It is expected that the national association will contribute to a better policy formulation of the development of clusters and constructive cooperation with other similar associations in the region and Europe. The ultimate goal is to develop Serbian economy and increase the competitiveness of entrepreneurs, especially small and medium enterprises.

Cluster Council in Serbian Chamber of Commerce was established in February 2011.

From Brussels Conference to the present over 15 conferences and workshops have been held in the EU and the region that have had their focus on the clusters and their significance for the development of the region. I participated in them, owing to cooperation with the MFG Innovation Agency for ICT and Media Baden-Württemberg – Head of International Team Cluster Programmes.

By exchanging information with each other, we have strengthened our network,have expanded partnerships and have recognized the importance of clusters as a driver of the development of the region. Below are links that will provide you with information about conferences and presentations.

Women’s Entrepreneurship and Networking

Clusters and women entrepreneurs are two important areas that give our country the opportunity for networking, participation and  progress.

These are the reasons why Serbia should be swift and take the chance that it is provided in the Danube Strategy and at current forum. It is a way to perform equally with other EU member states. Now the most important dissemination and presentation of action plan for implementation. It is necessary that the general public is familiar with all details and possibilities that are at your disposal!

In the Western Balkans and Southeastern Europe, there are every year becoming more topical forums women’s entrepreneurship. Two of them is important for the Region by the number of participating :

Business and Professional Women (BPW) Danube Net

The BPW Danube Net is a network for business women whose primary aim is to bring together decision-makers of the Danube Region to exchange know-how and best practices and to bring closer to its members the business and development opportunities of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR). The Danube Strategy has been implemented by the European Union to provide a sustainable framework for policy integration and coherent development of the Danube Region – to make this a truly EU region for the 21st century, secure and confident, and one of the most attractive region in Europe.

The seventh forum will be held this autumn in Vienna, on 16-18. November 2012, in cooperation with the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative (SECI). Before this year, meetings were held in Budapest, Arad, Pula, Munich and Belgrade.

Part of the network’s activities is  the program of Empowerment of Businesswomen in the Danube region – Equality, innovation and sustainability through empowered women.

Four Pillars address the major issues:

  1. Connecting the Danube Region
  2. Protecting the Environment
  3. Building Prosperity
  4. Strengthening the Danube Region


According to the European Union Strategy for Danube Region, by 2020, all citizens of the Region should enjoy better prospects of higher education, employment and prosperity in their own home area.

In the third Pillar is the Priority Area 08 “To support the competitiveness of enterprises.” This PA is coordinated by Land Baden-Württemberg (Germany) and Croatia with the involvement of a wide network of key players.

The Forum of the Adriatic and Ionian Chambers of Commerce (AIC Forum)

The Forum of the Adriatic and Ionian Chambers of Commerce is an association born in 2001 that brings together the Chambers of Commerce from the coastal areas of the Adriatic and Ionian basin. The associations’ purpose is to promote the economic development of the Adriatic and Ionian area, to strengthen the relationships among the Chambers of Commerce of transborder Countries, to encourage the juridical and administrative cooperation harmonizing the procedures among the Countries, to spread business and entrepreneurial culture through the involvement of all the actors within the territory.

The strategic goal of the Forum is to help a process of growth within the basin through an effective use of public resources, both national and communitarian and a tangible application of European principles referred to the politics of cohesion and proximity. Partnership, sustainability and systematic characterization of the actions are the key-words of its strategy. The Forum has a permanent organizational structure, it is established as a trans-national non-profit association and its Secretariat is located at the Chamber of Commerce of Ancona, Italy.

The objectives of the Forum are:

  • Improving the economic development of the Adriatic-Ionian area
  • Strengthening the country composition of Commerce cross-border area
  • Encouraging the legal and administrative integration and harmonization of standards
  • Improving the exchange of experiences and cooperation between the different chambers
  • Developing the entrepreneurial spirit


Serbia has representatives in both the BPW and the AIC Forum. In 2011 the BPW Danube Net Forum was held in Belgrade, and in 2012 the Adriatic Ionian Forum will be held in Belgrade, thanks to the initiative of Mrs. Jadranka Radovanić, president of the County Chamber of Split and the Adriatic-Ionian president of the Forum.

RE: CRAFTS-cluster as an example of good practice

Re: Crafts-cluster was established in Belgrade in late August 2010 after a year and a half of the cluster initiative for revitalization of traditional crafts in Serbia. In its structure, it comprises ten shops, out of which seven are owned by female entrepreneurs, and three are supported by institutions. They have a great support within the local self-government of Savski Venac (Business incubator center and office for EU project/strategic planning).

Missions of Re: Crafts

Strengthening of the entrepreneurship of vulnerable groups (women and youth), by pointing out sustainable development of natural and human resources available in Serbia, redesigned traditional products, and in the first place education about the importance of cultural heritage, through the workshop method of working and achieving competitiveness of our products in the EU market.

How to encourage entrepreneurship in Re: Crafts?

Through a joint promotion and marketing of its members, through placement – because increased supply strengthens market position – the common market, education and training,

The cluster was formed from the aspiration to eliminate the shortcomings of craftsmanship: underdeveloped market, small production capacity, inadequate rates, low productivity and the need to redesign products.

The cluster has internationalized its work at conferences :

  1. UNIFEM and the Global Compact UN in Istanbul in April 2011 at the invitation of Turkey-BPW,
  2. UNESCO Center for Peace and Women in the Balkan country In Thessaloniki .The main theme of the conference was: “Equality means-business” and empowerment of women through the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility and the position of women in the labour market (including women’s businesses in the supply chain of socially responsible companies).1
  3. UNESCO Club of Youth, Paris in December 2012 presented their project WOOL Story.


Useful links

  • Vienna





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