‘I just sold organic honey from Brazil to Israel and now I’m working on selling wine from Spain to Ukraine’.
This is how my friend Kiril describes his working day. Kiril is is a sales and business development consultant in a company he manages with a partner. It mainly operates online within the professional business networks. Kiril was not trained in what he does, he learnt it by doing, reading and self-education. Just like investment bankers in London, Kiril works night and day to keep pace with Eastern and Western timezones. He is constantly online and travels to European capitals to meet with trade partners. Not only does he operate in the world market, he is also one of the true beneficiaries of economic globalization.
Did I mention that he is from Skopje and is based in Skopje?
His personal story – which would sound strange to most Macedonians – contradicts the widespread skepticism about individual chances of success in the present climate. Macedonia is a country burdened with so many local problems that people don’t pay much attention to what economic globalization offers and how they could benefit from it. It’s the curse of small nations that when their citizens think of themselves in reference to the world, they think they are too small and incapable to compete on that huge market. It’s an even stronger curse when these small countries are still developing and their ability to integrate on the international level is in many ways limited.
Take the lack of flight connections as only one instance of the practical hurdles to be overcome. It’s only recently that Skopje got a direct line to London and Dubai. You cannot fly from Skopje to New York, Moscow or Tokyo. Nor can you use PayPal in Macedonia, it will only be introduced in 2014. Macedonian citizenship is another genuine drawback when your competitors all hold EU or US passports. Unless certain conditions are fulfilled, a Macedonian citizen is not even allowed to open a bank account in a foreign country. And for potential Macedonian investors it’s even more bizarre that by law Macedonian citizens are not allowed to buy stocks abroad. These are all necessary elements for any country integrated in the global economic market.
So with so many obstacles, can Macedonians really participate in the world market? Can Macedonians really understand economic globalization?
In countries that are more dependent on the international exchange of goods, services and capital, more people are directly dependent on the factors that affect economic globalization. In developing countries like Macedonia, more people can ‘afford’ not to care, participate and understand economic globalization. This has all the makings of a “loose-loose” situation.
While the majority of the people choose to focus on local issues and ‘don’t care’ about the opportunities of economic globalization, Kiril’s move to take advantage of the world market shows that ‘not caring and not understanding’ does not pay off. The opportunities out there are limitless; they just have to be explored. His success provides a positive example of how thinking outside the local box but within the global framework can pay dividends.