Impact Star is a special competition category of Deloitte Technology Fast 50 in which companies recognized as successful in creating a positive impact on society, business, innovation, diversity and the environment are rewarded.
Deloitte aimed to present Impact Star awardees and display their completed, ongoing and future socially impactful engagement. As part of it, Deloitte interviewed Mr. Samir Eljazović, co-founder and CEO of Klika d.o.o. Together they discussed Klika’s significant achievements and highlighted its impactful initiatives. Furthermore, Samir also shared insightful details about future endeavors and upcoming plans.
Deloitte: What would you emphasize as the most important milestone during your impactful engagement in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
Samir: The biggest milestone for us was recognizing that we have the power and privilege to change our society for the better. Even before we founding the company, we, the founders, were involved in community activities and we always found a way to change things we recognized as problems. As our company grew, so did the team of people that we could make changes with, as well as the impact we had. We rolled out activities and initiatives one after another, and now when we look back, we can proudly say that we have remarkable results behind us. Our community is really better, which mostly manifests itself through the versatile careers and successful lives of our employees, the improved status of individuals and organizations we support and collaborate with all this time, and in the end, the numerous awards we received in the past few years, which we are highly grateful for.
Deloitte: What did you do in the previous years regarding social impact that you are most proud of?
Samir: We are proud of everything we did in the previous years, especially the fact that many initiatives were instigated by our employees. We implemented an array of impactful community projects benefiting the wider society in BiH. For example, one of the things I would like to emphasize is that, in cooperation with the Faculty of Archaeology of the University of Sarajevo, we built Nekropola.ba, a research platform that enabled the digitalization of scientific research materials on medieval heritage, i.e., medieval tombstones called stećci, allowing researchers around the globe to access scientific materials that can help them in their further research. We also built a software platform for donation tracking for Pomozi.ba - the biggest charity organization in BiH. It facilitated and smoothened the processes for everyone working on distributing the donations and getting them into the right hands. I would like to mention that what stands out as the official crown jewel of all what we do is the Klika Foundation concept and the unique scholarship program we launched for students attending the two biggest public universities in our country.
Deloitte: Klika Foundation Scholarships received great media exposure. Could you elaborate on the program and how it supports students from various faculties and universities?
Samir: As I already mentioned above, we are very proud of going through with the program. For us, it is the crown jewel of all what we do to contribute to our society. What inspired us to create such a scholarship program is our firm belief that all segments of society should be developed evenly in order to enable our society to develop as a whole. There are numerous scholarship programs in the IT industry in BiH and we commend the efforts of fellow companies aimed at supporting young people in BiH, however, most of these programs support only Electrical Engineering and ICT students. We went one step further and support students pursuing all areas of education.
The Klika scholarship program stands out with such a concept, and each year, we award students in their final year of bachelor or master studies attending any faculty or academy at the University of Sarajevo and University of Banja Luka. We make sure to select one student from each faculty or academy, which brings us up to 43 scholarships per year, and each scholarship recipient is awarded BAM 1,000. We announced a call for applications in June for the third year in a row, and we can say that the experience from the two previous years is very encouraging and gives hope for a better future. Alongside scholarships, we also created an alumni network for scholarship recipients that allows us to work on and implement further projects together with the alumni, and subsequently, build a network of successful and active young people capable of bringing change to their local communities and society as a whole.
Deloitte: What would you say regarding the number of young people leaving Bosnia and Herzegovina, and how does Klika's internship program, KLIKA PRAKSA, contribute to reducing that number?
Samir: The problem of young people leaving the country is highly complex and can be observed from various angles. On one hand, migrations are a completely natural phenomenon and represent the right of each individual to pursue opportunities and a better life where they see fit. On the other hand, we are aware of the circumstances concerning our country and the problems that surround us. We can quickly identify the factors that impact the youth’s decision to look for a better life elsewhere. Taken together, those factors represent a sphere that we all can influence and contribute to, whether as authorities at different government levels, businesspeople, individuals. We have no precise data on how much KLIKA PRAKSA impacted the reduction of the number of engineers leaving the country, but we can say that the feedback from KLIKA PRAKSA interns regarding the internship’s significance has been incredible.
During the past seven years, each of the 12 cycles of KLIKA PRAKSA had a few hundred applicants. On average, we pick 10 young people for the internship and give them the opportunity to work with experienced mentors and all resources they need to learn and improve. What we are really proud of is that 90% of our interns get hired by us by the end of each KLIKA PRAKSA. I am not sure how many of them thought about leaving BiH before landing an internship spot, but we believe that we changed their belief in terms of considering BiH a country with no opportunities for young people.
Deloitte: This is your second time to receive the Impact Star award. How have these recognitions motivated you to continue making an impact in our society? What would you say about future plans regarding making an impact after receiving the second Impact Award?
Samir: This year was definitely the year of awards, and all of them are the result of years-long commitment in building a company that exists within its community, as well as a result of devotion to build a better Bosnia and Herzegovina. It inspired us to stop for a second and look at the impact we have on our community, which also encouraged us to keep going that way with more determination. Our plans for the future include working on further development of Klika Foundation and the programs within, further improvement of work conditions at Klika - as we believe that a better company also means becoming better as a society, and enabling continuous development for our teams. So far, investing in our teams proved to be the best investment and we want to keep that course in the future. Regarding social engagement, I would like to emphasize that we will keep supporting young people via Klika Scholarships and our network of collaborations with partner organizations.
Deloitte: What do you think about the Fast 50 Initiative in Bosnia and Herzegovina and ots significance?
Samir: Such initiatives can have a strong impact on the awareness of companies that operate in our market when it comes to, for example, sustainable business models and the categories you evaluate. Year in and year out, the number of companies applying for awards is getting bigger as they try to catch up with global trends. We believe the full significance of such activities as yours is yet to be seen in a few years, but we also believe you already have a lot to be proud of so far.
Deloitte: How do you view the future of IT and startups in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region?
Samir: The success of the IT industry in BiH and the region has been nothing short of remarkable so far, especially if we consider that a strategic approach and government support was mostly non-existent. The success so far is the result of entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, courage, resourcefulness and committed efforts of all employees in the IT industry. The following stage of development, however, will require a strategic approach at the state level of BiH, as well as in the neighboring countries, strong support in terms of incentives and relief measures, aligned regulations and an overall climate that benefits the further development of existing companies and new startups. For startups to start flourishing, it is necessary to provide different kinds of funding and mechanisms to enable sustainability of the startup ecosystem in the market. I want to believe that a successful future awaits the IT scene and that we will overcome geoposition challenges and keep up with the latest tech trends despite the hurdles ahead of us.