Chocolatier achieves sweet taste of success in Bosnia and HerzegovinaAfter working in the finance industry for 13 years, Merjem Hamzic made the life-changing decision to follow her passion and love for chocolate. With limited funds, she established Bashka chocolatier, a small artisan-chocolatier business in Bosnia and Herzegovina that offers organically grown hand-crafted chocolates.
A hobby grows into an enterprise
Hamzic founded Bashka three years ago. It started as a hobby and in 2021 she decided to achieve her aspirations of becoming her own boss and of touching people's hearts. "I did not want to wait to retire to start doing wonderful things that would make this world a better place. Chocolate indeed makes this world a better place!" she said.
Hamzic and her husband both share the same love for chocolate. Together they embarked on a journey of testing the Bashka concept and developing it as a premium chocolate brand. Hamzic had a clear vision of her business idea – her goal is to create a unique, high-quality plant-based chocolate story. This pushed her to validate all the products in the markets for the sake of reaching that goal. "Bashka means special, like no other, and that is exactly what we are striving for ... We knew that it had to be different, and it just occurred to us: Bashka. Yes, that's who we are! " she said.
A bittersweet journey
The challenges of starting and running a business during the pandemic did not go unnoticed for Hamzic. With COVID-19 affecting the supply and demand chains directly, especially when it came to the affordability of luxury goods, providing ingredients locally and in timely manner was almost impossible. Eventually, her plans to enter the retail market were halted. She acknowledges the difficulty of being a woman entrepreneur and describes it as: "being your own boss, accountant, marketing and PR expert, chocolatier, wrapper, cleaner, delivery woman. All in one! And at the same time taking great care of my toddler tends to make it more complex".
Considering all this, she says her biggest struggle was to move out of her comfort zone. "Go for it!", is the advice Hamzic gave to herself and worked by to overcome her challenges. With the support of her family and friends, and her faith in her brand, she strives to make an impact and spread the love and creativity of chocolate all over Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Hamzic is extremely ambitious, and her vision extends beyond the borders of Sarajevo. In the future, she aspires to own a cacao farm in Bali, Indonesia, where she can participate in and oversee the production process from fermentation and solar drying to shipping to Sarajevo where the magic will happen. To share her love for chocolate with others, Hamzic would also like to offer her customers an authentic factory experience where they would immerse themselves in producing their finest items. She longs to see Bashka make an appearance in key cities like Dubrovnik, Bali, Vienna, Istanbul, Dubai, Singapore and Tripoli! A true global expansion.
With this vision in mind, Hamzic participated in UN Women’s virtual Women’s Entrepreneurship Expo to explore ways to expand her business. She described it as a “fantastic experience to listen to all the brave women who shared their business paths with us. Also, we had the honour to listen to great speakers and instructors regarding the topics. A lot of positive energy and useful tips for our business. Thank you very much!”