July 3, 2012 - 13:30 AMT
EFSE-funded firm in Bosnia & Herzegovina to provide debt counseling services

The Association for Responsible Personal Finance Management, “Plus”, the first organization in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to provide debt counseling services free of charge to over-indebted citizens as well as to conduct financial literacy programs for youths and adults, is now officially open for business in Sarajevo as well.

The new office was inaugurated by Kemal Kozarić Ph.D., Governor of the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and H. E. André Schaller, the Ambassador of Switzerland in BiH.

“Plus” (formerly Centre for Financial and Credit Counseling) was established in December 2009 with the support of the EFSE Development Facility, the technical assistance arm of the European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE), of the government of Switzerland through a project that is being implemented by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and of DFID as well as of other international and local institutions and international donors. Thus far its services have been available in canton of Tuzla. The Association’s goal is to empower BiH citizens to manage their personal finances more responsibly in order to achieve real financial security, and thus avoid over-indebtedness.

“Plus” provides debt counseling services as well as mediation services between indebted citizens and financial institutions. “Plus” financial education modules are comprised of four workshops delivered free of charge - Household Budget Management, Financial Products, Credit Agreements, Consumer Protection. All workshops are tailored to the various needs of adults and youth; they also enable citizens to learn the modalities of exercising their rights. To date, “Plus” has provided financial counseling and mediation services to more than 900 citizens. Moreover, more than 2600 persons have so far attended the Association’s financial literacy workshops.

“The EFSE is pleased to support “Plus” as part of it Responsible Finance agenda. The services of “Plus” are truly innovative not only in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also in the region. We at the EFSE are confident that “Plus” will achieve good results both in contributing towards resolving the problem of over-indebtedness, and in taking preventive action by encouraging financial literacy in the population,” said Monika Beck, Chairperson of the EFSE Board of Directors.

Focused on bolstering and raising awareness of Responsible Finance practices in the EFSE’s target regions of Southeast Europe and South Caucasus, the EFSE Development Facility has supported other financial education and literacy projects in other countries of the EFSE’s target regions as well, including Responsible Finance Conferences and client education booklets that explain the risks of foreign currency loans.