Partnership for Innovation project is a five year project supported by USAID and implemented by Education Development Center, Inc. (www.edc.org).


Partnership for Innovation (PI) project focuses on addressing the challenges facing BiH youth with ICT skills & background and challenges facing small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) from the ICT sector as well as SMEs from other sectors with heavy reliance on information and communication technologies. Key challenges facing youth include challenges in obtaining adequate training & practical experience and challenges in obtaining jobs, including short term opportunities. Additionally, youth also faces challenges when launching startups including the lack of technical or business mentorship assistance and lack of access to sources of finance especially in the early stages of business development due to underdeveloped investor culture in BiH and the perceived high risks involved with early ventures. Key challenges facing ICT SMEs vary depend on their services focus and they include growing need for skilled programmers, need for support in product development and support in accessing international markets as well as need for focused business development assistance to expand services offerings, broaden client base and create new jobs.


The PI program goal is twofold: 1) to improve the competitiveness and productivity of SMEs, enabling them to meet market demand and preserve and generate jobs, and 2) to enhance employment and entrepreneurship among youth, by providing the support they need to use ICTs to identify and exploit new opportunities.


A demand-driven approach underlies all PI activities. All PI project interventions are undertaken following extensive surveying and collaborative program design sessions with targeted SMEs and training centers. This approach ensures that PI’s SME support programs are relevant and timely and that the supply of youth receiving certification and linked to local employers is trained in skills that are in demand by local businesses.


PI’s Youth Training and Internship Programs

1) Advanced ICT Trainings PI Project provides support and organization of trainings for young market entrants in specialized ICT programs that are market demand driven. PI collects feedback from top ICT sector employers (including outsourcing firms and software developing SMEs) and local partner organizations that serves as the basis for selecting the demand driven curricula for advanced ICT trainings. The programs are subject to regular review by PI and its SME stakeholders and adjusted to ensure their relevance in the constantly changing ICT industry.

2) Work Ready Now! Through 4 local partners, PI will implement Work Ready Now! in 2014 and 2015. Work Ready Now is EDC’s approach to work readiness training. EDC uses the term “work readiness” to refer to specific work-related skills that young people and adults need to be successful as entry-level workers in any formal sector business or industry or in any informal sector livelihood. These skills are generally thought of as life skills with a strong work focus, and include work habits and conduct, personal leadership, communicating with others, teamwork and collaboration at work, health and safety at work, rights and responsibilities of workers and employers, and customer service. The curriculum is comprised of 8 modules, and is takes 44-100 hours to implement, depending on the modules selected for the project. The Work Ready Now! curriculum has been implemented in nine countries since 2008. PI intends to implement the core modules of the curriculum (44 hours).

3) Mojapraksa (internship program) Moja praksa is a demand-driven program that is executed in Banja Luka, Tuzla and Mostar. The program in Sarajevo is scheduled to start in February 2014. Mojapraksa is an innovative semester-long ICT-based internship program that includes lectures, trainings and team work on implementation of real life projects. The objective of Mojapraksa is to offer training and practical experience in technical and soft skills areas to youth that will soon become available in job markets for BiH ICT and ICT based industries. The work is defined by the employer and builds on existing skills and knowledge. Participants get an opportunity to practice what they know in theory, and to acquire the practical attributes required by employers in the world of work, and relevant to specific jobs. Interns perform actual tasks under a supervisor thus making them more employable after the internship.

SME Competitiveness Support Programs

PI-supported technical assistance initiatives for ICT SMEs are designed to provide opportunities for upgrading advanced technical skills, methodological skills to improve efficiency, and skills in technology screening, including advanced equipment and applications. Those initiatives will also address other business needs, such as financing and gaps in business skills such as commercialization, licensing etc. For non-ICT firms, services will focus on building capacity to use ICT more effectively in their own operations.  It should be noted that some if not many of these activities will also involve and support young market entrants (graduates from the EBY Program), given youths’ central role in working in or starting SMEs.

ICT Bootcamps

All PI’s ICT Bootcamps are designed with active participation of target SMEs in order to ensure their relevance and timeliness. PI Bootcamps are workshop-style events, held over the course of five to seven days in a classroom-style setting with a limited number of attendees (10-15 people). PI’s ICT Bootcamps for SME participants offer an in-depth learning and project work experience, including thoughtful interaction between attendees and top industry experts/mentors.

Product Development and Access to Markets Support

PI assistance is focused on helping SMEs to identify key customer segments, rapidly respond to evolving trends and customer demands, optimize software development, strengthen production and distribution processes, and improve the SMEs’ business processes and marketing strategies. PI will also provide limited support to organizing Business-to-Business (B2B) matchmaking events with potential clients from the EU and USA for BiH SMEs focused on software development as well as for those that provide services to outsourcing clients. Support for presentations at key industry fairs will be considered in collaboration with the industry association(s).

Advanced ICT Training

PI organized trainings for SMEs are focused on specialized ICT programs that are market demand driven. The methodology and approach for this is described in detail above (section relating to Advanced ICT Training for young market entrants).  PI will develop and organize or co-organize more than 60 training programs for SMEs by the end of the project.

Support to ICT Association(s)

Based on the feedback from key SME stakeholders, PI will provide technical advisory support to relevant industry association(s) and to newly emergent ones. For example, the existing B@it association, the recently announced ICT Cluster / Association of Software Exporters would be considered for support. The objective will be to improve the enabling environment for BiH software development firms, particularly start-ups. PI’s technical assistance will focus on developing the associations’ internal capacity to conceptualize and develop policy-related initiatives, organize learning programs and execute access to markets activities on behalf of their member SMEs.  This also includes improving the associations’ capacity for outreach to new members, communications strategies for their memberships, improving strategies for formulating policy initiatives that support the ICT industry, etc.

ICT Fairs/Conferences

PI will support or co-organize two major ICT conferences/fairs gathering local and regional ICT SMEs, ICT industry technology vendors, young market entrants (and youth seeing to start a new enterprise), and SMEs from other industry sectors using ICT technologies for conducting business. Organizing a major ICT Fair/Conference with a unique concept focusing on business results and how technology can be used and integrated in business will attract all key local executives from the ICT industry and industry-leading technology providers. Conference themes will be created as workshops to provide more hands on practical experience to enable advanced learning targeted towards the SME market. Themes covered will be created depending on the ICT market demand data gathered from SMEs. Such an environment will ensure that SMEs can position themselves in the local ICT economy and capture emerging business opportunities. SMEs who have not yet adopted ICT will be able to identify their next steps to transformation of their businesses.


PI is focused on support women‘s equitable involvement in the project supported activities, including special emphasis on engaging women-owned or women-managed businesses, using women entrepreneurs as role models, and young women market entrants. PI will also consider use of scholarships and/or targeted recruitment of women in PI sponsored activities/opportunities as well as targeted technology career campaigns that start in early secondary school and go through university.

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The development of this webpage is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of the PI project and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.