Macedonia2025 hosted a business conference in Toronto aimed at promoting Macedonia as an export-oriented, foreign-investment hub. More than 25 senior executives and industry leaders participated as speakers, outlining opportunities for investments in the Automotive, Mining, Energy and Resources; IT / Technology and the Agribusiness and Healthcare sectors, which are key industries in the Macedonian economy.
The event was attended by both the Macedonian and the Canadian Government, and has featured Ministers Mile Janakievski and Jerry Naumoff, Viktor Mizo, CEO, Free Zones Authority who presented investment opportunities in Macedonia. Canadian Senator Don Meredith was delighted by the fact that Toronto – the commercial centre of Canada and home to over 100,000 Macedonian residents – is this year’s host of the conference: “Canada and Macedonia have enjoyed mutually beneficial relations since the early 19th century. As an entrepreneur and proud friend of Macedonia, I applaud this special opportunity to help foster bilateral investment and trade partnerships between Canada and a growing South and Central European market of over 175 million,” stated Senator Meredith.
The conference attracted more than 100 representatives of the Macedonian business Diaspora in North America, Macedonia2025 Board Members, potential Canadian investors to Macedonia, as well as a business delegation from Macedonia. “Macedonians who haven’t been to Macedonia were quite impressed with what they have been able to learn and hopefully there will be a greater flow of investments to Macedonia” – said John Bitove Jr. The opening ceremonyfeatured Phil Evershed, Managing Director at Canaccord Genuity (the title sponsor of the Conference) and keynote speaker Beth Pritchard, Principal & Strategic Advisor, Sunrise Beauty Studio. Ms. Pritchard emphasized the need to focus on partnerships to drive strategic international expansion in taking global brands into new markets. “Great international partnerships maximize core competencies. Macedonia’s natural resources, skilled and educated workforce, plus operational excellence support strong business results. This yields partnerships that produce profitable growth and development,” added Mrs. Pritchard.
The Automotive Panel positioned Macedonia as an emerging European gateway for better global competitiveness of the Canadian Automotive Parts industry. This panel featured Flavio Volpe, the new President of The Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association – Canada’s national association representing OEM producers for the worldwide automotive industry whose members account for 90% of independent parts production in Canada. In 2013, automotive parts shipments represents more than $24 Billion and the industry employment level was over 80,000 people. Mr. Volpe recognized Macedonia’s strong positioning on all critical indicators in this industry, the efficient operating structure, available skilled workforce, government support and access to key markets. “Macedonia has the right attitude for investment attraction and enjoys a reputation for supporting manufacturing companies. The automotive parts manufacturers, who look for a critical mass of OEMs in an accessible market, should definitely consider Macedonia ‘s strong positioning and the right infrastructure,” pinpointed Mr. Volpe.
The IT / Technology Panel identified this industry as one of the fastest growing sectors in Macedonia, with a growth rate of more than 47% in the past five years; and Macedonia providing an excellent talent pool of well-educated IT personnel. Kevin Kimsa, the Managing Director of OMERS Ventures who is working to provide support for companies focused on the Technology, Media and Telecommunications sectors, provided his insights on global opportunities in the sector. Mr. Kimsa, a successful Canadian entrepreneur of Macedonian heritage, is the co-founder of the IP billing software firm Solect Technology Group, which was sold for US $1.6 billion, and the Executive Chair of the live event e-commerce platform provider AudienceView Ticketing Inc. He has also been recognized by Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 Award that he received in 2002.
The Agribusiness and Healthcare discussion provided an opportunity to promote awareness on the quality of Macedonian export-ready products from the fruit and vegetable processing, confectionary and winemaking sectors. Vera Stavroff, CEO of HerbalScience explained the potential of the Macedonian agribusiness industry both as an appealing sector for foreign investors and as a supplier of superior quality products to high-end stores in North America. Gligor Cvetanov, CEO of Makprogres, emphasized the strategic importance of the North American markets and confirmed the interest for developing partnerships with North American distributors, especially among the specialized stores with top-quality products.
The Mining, Energy and Resources panel provided an overview of the availability of natural resources in the region. With its ideal location, modern infrastructure, competitive workforce, variety of investment incentives and an investor-friendly government, Macedonia is proving to be a popular and dynamic location for companies from around the world. This is highlighted by recent announcements of two successful Canadian investors in Macedonia; Euromax Recourses and Reservoir Minerals.
By hosting this event, Macedonia2025 continues its mandate to strengthen relations with Canadian investors and companies looking to expand globally; in addition to promoting Macedonia as preferred destination for doing business in Europe, Turkey and the Middle East.