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STRATEGY AND PROJECTS / ORGANISATION AND HR / MARKETING AND BRANDING

I can really say only the best about the collaboration of our Association with Smart Growth. The collaboration started by chance but it was well-timed for us since in the Croatian Red Cross –Osijek City Association we were just starting to think about founding our own company with the aim of creating a better framework for managing our accommodation capacities. Smart Growth LTD helped us to channel our idea by successfully developing a Sustainability study for us that we used as a starting point for founding the newly founded Center for Social Entrepreneurship Osijek LTD for tourism and catering that was registered in compliance with the Croatian Strategy for the Development of Social Entrepreneurship which means that our activities are based upon the principles of social, ecological and economic sustainability and that we invest the profit we make into the humanitarian programs of its founder aiming at benefitting the community. This shows that our collaboration with the very professional, competent, positive and patient team of Smart Growth experts can be defined as successful and of high quality.
Marko Đukić, Director, Red Cross Osijek, www.crvenikrizosijek.hr

We worked with this team on the development of our Strategic Development Plan for 2015 – 2020. My team and I were very satisfied with the quality of the service and the document delivered to us which is based upon a thorough analysis that includes the analysis of our investment potential, our assets as well as our human resources. That is why the measures proposed to us are aligned not only with our vision but also with our operational capacity which makes it highly implementable. This team knows how both the private and the public sector work. They adapt their tools to the specific needs of every community in a skillful and successful way, work participatively and through open and regular communication and workshops with the management as well as with the other citizens interested. I therefore reccommend them to everyone in need of a reliable partner to help them accelerate their local development.
Ivica Musić, Mayor, Municipality of Lišane Ostrovičke, www.lisaneostrovicke.hr
 I have been working with this team on an international project worth 382 000 eur. They have led and coordinated all of the 8 organisations involved participatively and successfully. The project was recognized by the Croatian Agency for Mobility and EU Programmes twice in 2014. The project team was therefore sent to two events, a National one in Croatia and a Transnational one in Latvia. They are extremely communicative and approachable. They treat problems as challenges and transform them into opportunites to further improve teamwork and to allow for individualities to emerge in the newly created professional and interpersonal environment. Due to their extensive experience in working on numerous projects both as manager and assistant, their skills range from analysis to planning and monitoring/evaluating the project results with the aim of implementing the project within its timeframe and budget. They are constantly and successfully working with a variety of people and organisations. Mrs Stefania Skender possesses the skills and qualities of an exceptional leader that knows how to work with a team she herself developed as well as with one assigned to her.
Biljana Trifunović, Director, National Center for Technical Culture, Croatian Association for Technical Culture, www.hztk.hr
I would like to confirm that having worked and working with the Smart Growth team in the development and submission of three different Erasmus+ applications a positive experience. I have found them to be honest and open to ideas and to developing a collaborative approach to the development of and implementation of projects. Having worked with two different members of their team, I can also confirm that I have benefitted from their experience in proposal writing and project implementation. The organisation and their team members are very aware of the need for professionalism, paying attention to detail and ensuring that the right subject experts (e.g. project managers, evaluators, certified accountant and trainers) are deployed as appropriate. My experience has only been a positive one and therefore I can highly recommend them as a potential partner. 
John Moore, Director, Exponential training UK, www.exponentialtraining.com
It is a great pleasure to work with the Smart growth team. Our cooperation with them started only a year ago but we have already developed brilliant and successful projects. They put an enormous amount of effort in each step of the process, from idea development to successful project implementation, to ensure the best results possible. In a few words they are – experienced, diplomatic, precise and opened for challenges, Their personnel is extremely focused and they have provided us with excellent service and management. 
Reinis Budrikis, Head of project department, Riga International School of Economics and Business Administration (RISEBA), www.riseba.lv
Working with this team is always a pleasure. They are determined, precise and exact with exceptional sense for people/team work. The company’s director Stefania Skender knows how to lead and convince with arguments and is the driving force behind the company. It is a team of people totally committed to their work which makes them a reliable business partner. I trust them 100%. 
Tomaž Pristovnik, Energy Expert, RIC Slovenska Bistrica, www.ric-sb.si


It was a real pleasure working with the Smart Growth team on the development of the new Business strategy for our company. Our collaboration took place in a highly positive and professional environment designed to help us expand our horizons as well as to enrich our way of doing business with new vision and ideas. The outcomes and the impact this collaboration had on us was concrete, signficant and visible right away and we were able to enjoy the fruits of our labor in a really short period of time. I believe that our collaboration will go on on our mutual satisfaction.
Ronald Žužić, Director, Sigra Printing LTD, www.sigra.hr

What can I say about the team that gave me hope for a better tomorrow? They gained my full trust and I am sure that we will keep working together. They not only provided me with a high quality Investment Study but they also attached a Power Point presentation explaining all the key findings in the Study and all the ways in which I can use them besides for getting my loan and guarantee request approved in a simple way. The Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development just approved my loan. Before that my project also earned the support of the Croatian Agency for Medium and Small Entreprises which is guaranteeing for 80% of my investment. Big credit goes to the Smart growth team. I will also apply for the (self)employment incentives of the Croatian Employment Service. I plan on employing two more persons so it would be great to get their support too, financial or in form of advice and education. With the help of the Smart Growth experts I will also apply for EU funds.
Frane Barić, Director, Blue game LTD, www.bluegame.hr

 The high quality and professional consulting services, practical help and multifaceted support that I got from Mrs Skender, the Smart Growth director, allowed me to launch my own company and to employ myself despite being a 100% disabled, blind person. My Shiatsu Center is the first of its kind in my city as well as in my county. I am very grateful to Mrs Skender for all the time, effort and work that she enthusiastically put into my project. Besides demonstrating competence, skillfulness and capability, she tirelessly looked for the best solutions. Her openness toward innovative ideas combined with her workaholic and optimistic nature were a precious support on my way to achieving independence. 
Marina Radošić, Owner and Manager, Shiatsu Center LTD
        

In the spring of 2013 I participated in the iPad EU Academy training in Vrsar commissioned by the Vrsar Municipality with Mrs Stefania Skender as the lead trainer. This was not my first training in the EU funding system and project management department but I had not seen this kind of training methodology before. The learning by doing way of transferring knowledge to trainees is very good for people wanting to learn and work at the same time. Trying to do something yourself with the guidance of an expert is definitely the best way of acquiring new competences, knowledge and skills. I was under the impression then as I am now that those participants who wanted to learn really did make a lot of progress and came up with interesting projects for the Municipality of Vrsar.
Sandi Čuka, Head of Single Administrative Dept., Municipality of Vrsar, www.vrsar.hr
In my personal name and on behalf of my colleagues that enrolled into the ESP Target Business Language Super-intensive Charter Training for hotel managers, I can say that we were extremely satisfied with the service offered to us as well as with the overall approach to the training, its innovativeness, dynamics and the devotion and enthusiasm of the trainers. The content was 100% percent adapted to the needs of our employees which helped each of them individually to break the communication barriers they had before. The training led to the trainees feeling empowered and confident in their language and presentation skills. Our collaboration with the Smart Growth team of experts was of high quality and very professional and that is why we highly recommend them to anyone who wants to grow individually and professionally by enhancing their competences, communication and presentation skills in a foreign language in a short period of time.
Loreta Žmak, Development and Education Specialist, Valamar hotels, Riviera Adria d.d, www.valamar.com
Ovaj je tim predvođen gospođom Skender na HKR došao s idejom o pokretanju radijske emisije kojom bi slušateljima pomogli u učenju stranih jezika. Nakon uvodnog sastanka na kojem smo se složili kako zbog ubrzanog načina života emisije moraju biti radijski efektne – kratke, dinamične i prilagođene slušateljima, u vrlo sam kratkog roku, unatoč zahtjevnosti posla i svojoj skepsi da će se dogovoreno stići izraditi u kratkom vremenu koje smo imali na raspolaganju, dobio osmišljene tekstove za spotove i snimke za prve tri emisije te sinopsis za ostatak sezone. Tijekom dvije sezone, koliko je emisija bila emitirana na HKR-u, gospođa Stefania i njezin tim pokazali su se kao vrsni profesionalci i korektni suradnici. Reakcije slušatelja bile su izvrsne i ponajviše zbog njihovog traženja razmatramo mogućnost da emisije objavimo i na CD-u. Na tragu spomenutog iskustva izričem svoju preporuku.
Zvonimir Ancić, Director, Croatian Catholic Radio, www.hkr.hr

Participating in in the iPad EU Academy training, a non-formal educational program on EU funding with the use of iPad tablets, was an entirely different learning and knowledge acquiring experience for me compared to what I experienced through my formal and non-formal education till then. The intensive but not exhausting work that was done during it helped me to get all the knowledge and the skills wanted while at the same time letting me to manage my reponsibilites as a law student as well as the private ones. The personal and laid-back yet very professional approach the trainer demonstrated helped me to understand all the key points without big obstacles. I would like to especially emphasize the good practice business examples that were used in abundance by the lecturer to help us to grasp the concepts with a deeper understanding as well as the trainers efforts to motivate each participant individually to take initiative and contribute with its own ideas and background.
Tomislav Sadrić, Law Student

This training on EU funding and Project management helped me to learn how to take my project idea to realisation starting with identifying the real problem/s being solved. The path from idea to planning and implementation helped me to learn how to connect the analysis stage with the project application and how to fill it out. All the explanations were backed up with good practice business examples which helped me to understand how complex it. This training did not only help me to plan well – the trainers’ practical approach first and foremost taught me how to think during the problem analysis stage which is of crucial importance. In my opinion it was the right decision from the trainer not to go into too much detail but to instead focus on practice and learning by doing.
David Velenik, Budget and Analysis Department, Blue Lagoon, www.plavalaguna.com


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