BIONA – Nutritious treasure of Bosnia and Herzegovina

The experiences of the Foundation 787 say that examples of good practice are crucial for those thinking about entrepreneurship. Positive examples help these persons to make final decision to start a business. People who create great and sometimes incredible tales really are a powerful inspiration, no matter in which field they operate. We never hide the enthusiasm when we come across such stories. Biona is one of them and for a good reason – it is our true treasure among Bosnia and Herzegovina’s brands.

Vladimir Grabovac, Biona’s CEO, told us more about this company, while we were delighted to review all the healthy items that this brand offers. Somehow it all began with a conversation about a healthy diet and products whose origins are known and tested, and for which raw materials are grown in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Like most things in our country, it was all random and unplanned. I started the business thanks to the friend who was a wholesaler of healthy food in Serbia.

He wanted me to open a company for him and be his man of trust, while he would be the one running the business. He did not know what he was getting into and I did not know how to run a business. It was an ideal combination to cause him to leave this job to me and my partners after two years. In those two years I wandered and learned how business should not be run. The challenges were constant and by each passing day only new problems for certain solutions were detected. Of course, if I knew what I was getting into, I would never opt for this kind of business. To my regret or my fortune, that Bosnian spite did not allow me to give up. With superhuman persistence, together with my partners and in “only” ten years of time, I managed to make Biona a recognizable brand”, said Vladimir.


787: What can you say to those who are just starting their own business, how important is planning? Also, how can they find (true) partners?

“The importance of planning in Bosnian conditions is a relative term. Planning is the basis for every successful business, and I would not like to spend your precious time with my advice. I would suggest however to entrepreneurs to use Google and Youtube, and to not finish their searches with the first page of recommendations. Let the constant need and hunger for discovering and learning new and different things lead you. The only thing I want to say to new entrepreneurs is to be ready to change their plans in a second and not be afraid to make a turn by 180 degrees. The capability of adapting is our greatest talent and perhaps it can be the foundation for starting the business. Partners are not found, partners are created. Social capital should be invested in partnerships first, since it is the only permanent value in a society. Your partner and you have to know that a certain benefit is created only by synergy, and if you work with such a motive, the partners will come to you on their own.”

This entrepreneurial venture is a synonymous for true values. Vladimir says that the only true value of the company is the creation of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s products from scratch and straight from the fields. This way, a lot of ordinary people, cooperatives, carriers, printing shops, packaging manufacturers and so on, are included in the value chain. Together, they strengthen our GDP and make this country a better place to live. In Biona, they are striving to employ people who are not competitive in the labor market because that’s the only way to grow.

We have never heard of an entrepreneurial path that was simple, but each was such life-changing experience. Despite a multitude of unpleasant experiences on his way, Vladimir tells us that he would repeat his entrepreneurial story without thinking.

“Biona as a brand has underwent various “childhood illnesses” and growth phases. In our growth, we wanted to expand our activity in another branch. In that process, we invested everything into that other business which came to its bleak end, and faced the company and me personally with the bankruptcy. I was left with nothing; I lost my property and the company was on the verge of collapse. With my hands in my pockets I wondered how to proceed and whether I should carry on. That Bosnian spite was, fortunately, decisive again, and I realized that the experience I have is my capital, enough to carry on and start all over again. Failure is a very relative term, and if the ego is ejected out of the equation, failure is the best thing that can happen to an entrepreneur.”

787: With what products did Biona start its story and how its assortment looks today?

“Initially, Biona was just repacking various healthy cereals and products from a range of healthy foods. Over the years our portfolio has changed in the sense that we realized we had to be more creative and customer-friendly. So we made a distinction from the competition and our customers recognized us as a brand, not only as a packing company.”

There is no doubt that Biona managed to place itself on the market as a recognizable brand with exceptionally high quality products of the domestic cultivation and processing. From a multitude of products of high nutritional value, we would select soy products in whose production, as we learn from the conversation with Vladimir, two types of soybeans are used – the ones with domestic origin, from the fields of Posavina and Semberija, and organic ones from China. Also Biona’s offer includes a series of gluten free products, and on the website visitors can find Biona recipes for many delicious dishes.

 

787: What is it like to be a vegetarian or a vegan in B&H and how can Biona contribute to menus of people with rare diseases?

“To be a vegetarian in B&H is difficult, but to be a vegan is actually a heroism. Unfortunately, from your question it is clear what the perception of vegan and vegetarian nutrition is. People are connecting it to some kind of illness. Our idea was not to make a homemade tofu in order to cure somebody with it (although there are many health benefits with this type of diet). We want to change the awareness of an ordinary person who is only familiar with pies and fileted peppers as the highlight of the BH cuisine. Our cuisine is archaic and boring, and parsley is considered a holy grail of our kitchen. Biona does not want to cure people, Biona wants to expand the aspects of our people through the internationalization of cooking. We want to make a Bosnian and Herzegovinian a gastronomic cosmopolite (if I may exaggerate), to somewhat bring Japan or India to our plates, to offer something different from these areas, something healthy, controlled and respecting all of the industry’s standards. We need to be aware that everything produced in B&H is much better than in well-organized countries, mostly because the degree of processing, industrialization and production technology does not allow the use of unhealthy components.”


787: Where can all the Biona products be found?

“You can find the complete range of Biona products on our Web shop: biona.ba. If you do not prefer ordering online, you can find our products in dm, Konzum, Mercator, Amko Komerc, Penny and other store chains.”

While we fill our Biona cart of healthy food at the Web shop, we wish Vladimir and the brilliant Biona team all the best in their future work.

787: What is it like to be a vegetarian or a vegan in B&H and how can Biona contribute to menus of people with rare diseases?

“To be a vegetarian in B&H is difficult, but to be a vegan is actually a heroism. Unfortunately, from your question it is clear what the perception of vegan and vegetarian nutrition is. People are connecting it to some kind of illness. Our idea was not to make a homemade tofu in order to cure somebody with it (although there are many health benefits with this type of diet). We want to change the awareness of an ordinary person who is only familiar with pies and fileted peppers as the highlight of the BH cuisine. Our cuisine is archaic and boring, and parsley is considered a holy grail of our kitchen. Biona does not want to cure people, Biona wants to expand the aspects of our people through the internationalization of cooking. We want to make a Bosnian and Herzegovinian a gastronomic cosmopolite (if I may exaggerate), to somewhat bring Japan or India to our plates, to offer something different from these areas, something healthy, controlled and respecting all of the industry’s standards. We need to be aware that everything produced in B&H is much better than in well-organized countries, mostly because the degree of processing, industrialization and production technology does not allow the use of unhealthy components.”


787: Where can all the Biona products be found?

“You can find the complete range of Biona products on our Web shop: biona.ba. If you do not prefer ordering online, you can find our products in dm, Konzum, Mercator, Amko Komerc, Penny and other store chains.”

 

While we fill our Biona cart of healthy food at the Web shop, we wish Vladimir and the brilliant Biona team all the best in their future work.