8th edition of the Regional Annual Competition of the Balkan Green Ideas (BGI) competition has been organized in Tirana, Albania. This year the competition gathered representatives from 7 countries of the Western Balkans and Greece and provided an opportunity for competitors to present their green and innovative ideas.

For two days, 21 innovative, original, and unique green ideas were presented in front of the jury members who had the challenging task of choosing the four winners who were each awarded $10,000. 


Merisa Abdullahu works as a project manager at Forum for Civic Initiatives. Her work is mainly related with the sustainable development of local CSO's and youth development. Merisa currently studies law at University for Business and Technology.

Vesna Bajšanski-Agić is the Executive Director of Mozaik Foundation. She joined Mozaik in 2008, as Mozaik began its transformation into a social enterprise. Today, Mozaik Foundation is the leading social enterprise in the Western Balkans, engaged in programs relevant to youth social entrepreneurship and social innovation. She is a Governing Board member of two social businesses that support the disadvantaged and promotes reconciliation in an economically sustainable way, and a Board member/president of two national NGOs. Prior to joining Mozaik, Vesna worked for ten years in various management positions in other national NGOs focused on social justice and she is an internationally certified trainer for Education for Social Justice. She is a member of several national and international groups and networks, including Governing Council member of the EFC, Steering Committee chairperson of GEF, SIGN Network, ISSA. She has a degree in Economics from the University of Sarajevo. Vesna is a 2012 recipient of the European Marshall Memorial Fellowship awarded by the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Oltion Beshiri is a Program Manager at FIQ where he closely works on projects concerning entrepreneurship and social innovation in Kosovo. In addition, he has broad experience in digital marketing and online campaigns. Prior to his current position, Oltion was involved in the organization of Startup Grind by Google for Entrepreneurs; NASA's International Space App Challenge Prishtina, and many other projects.

Anica-Maja Boljevic has been the Executive Director of the Fund for Active Citizenship (fAKT) since its foundation in 2008. She served as the Head of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) program in Montenegro from November 2002 to October 2005, after she had managed CRS youth advocacy and leadership program for two years. Before joining CRS, Maja was an English high school teacher for eight years. Her professional background and experience have been strongly linked to education and civil society programs, with an emphasis on supporting and fostering civic participation to encourage proactive problem solving and responsive governance. She is a member of the national Council for NGO Development and serves on several boards of Montenegrin non-profit organizations.

Biljana Dakic Djordjevic is the Executive Director of Trag Foundation, an indigenous non-profit foundation supporting local communities and grassroots activism in Serbia. Trag Foundation encourages citizens’ engagement and promotes local philanthropy. Biljana has eighteen years of professional experience in the non-profit sector, with extensive knowledge of fundraising and partnerships development, strategic planning, program management, and cross-sector cooperation. From 2012-2014, she managed a regional grant-making program with the Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD), a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. As the Development Director of the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence from 2004-2012, she supported the capacity building of political and public leaders in Serbia and the Balkans. Biljana is a board member of the UN Global Compact in Serbia, Serbian Philanthropy Forum and DobroCiniTi philanthropic initiative. She is Deputy Chair of the Council for Corporate Social Responsibility affiliated with the Serbian Chamber of Commerce.  

Avdo Halilović young inventor and entrepreneur with more than 10 years of experience in running a business. Avdo holds University degrees in management, international finances, and industrial engineering. Owner of a few globally awarded patents and two companies in the construction and health industries. Expert Associate at Inventors Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina, helped inventors to protect, present, and sell or send to market their IPs all over the world. Currently working as a Social Business Mentor in Mozaik Foundation Impact Incubator, helping young social entrepreneurs to make our world a better place.

Irina Janevska is a passionate activist with extensive international experience in non-formal education, advocacy, and social entrepreneurship. Irina is affiliated as Founder & President of The Organization for Social innovation “ARNO”, Y-PEER Macedonia Focal Point, Global Shaper (Curator 2014) at the World Economic Forum (Global Shapers Skopje Hub) devoted to working on advocacy and creative initiatives that ensure social change and community outreach. Irina holds a BA in Communications Sciences and MA in Cultural Studies. “ARNO” (founded 2013) is recognized in the country for the devoted energy and advocacy of Social Entrepreneurship, Green Business Ideas and innovative approaches for solving social issues (organized the First Cooking Classes in the country for promotion of VET and SE, created the Campaign "MenEngage" and held the First Men Fair for promoting Gender Equality (cooking and ironing workshops for men and boys, etc.)

Anto Jankovic has been a philanthropy development program manager in the Fund for Active Citizenship since 2009. Economist by education, a social entrepreneur by his soul, with more than 18 years of experience in policy development, CSOs, business and media. Professional interests: social entrepreneurship, social economy, civic activism, philanthropy and CSR, green economy, ICT / internet business. Consultancy experience: business planning, strategic planning, marketing, advocacy, and lobbying. Communicative, open for new challenges, individual and team worker... For the last 7 years Anto has focused his professional activities in promoting and developing social entrepreneurship in Montenegro. He is author of several reports on social economy and social enterprises in Montenegro and he is President of the Center for Economic Prosperity and Freedom - CEPS and also a member of EMES - International Research Network and the Management Committee member of European Cooperation in Science and Technology (EMPOWER-SE Action - Empowering the next generation of social enterprise scholars).

Kostantina Keruti is a program manager at Partners Albania for Change and Development. She is responsible for key aspects of project implementation and management primarily focused on philanthropy development and promotion, CSR, social enterprises, and social innovation. Kostandina has extensive experience in education and not-for-profit sector, including working as a specialist at Institute for Curricula and Training and professor at the University of Tirana, project coordinator and researcher for Program Alternative for Social Stimulation (PASS) organization, Albanian Council on Foreign Relations (ACFR), and serving as UNICEF national trainer on environmental education.

Klotilda Kosta is a Director of Programs at Partners Albania for Change and Development. She is a board member of the Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN). Since 2005, she is part of the management team of Partners Albania, designing and managing several projects for the development of civil society organizations in the country, and advocating to create an enabling legal environment for the operation of CSOs. Ms. Kosta is an expert in designing and delivering capacity building programs, technical assistance, and consultancy thanks to great exposure to best training methodologies at an international level and over 15 year experience in the area. She is a certified Anti-Corruption Practitioner, facilitating Local Government Units to prepare and implement Anticorruption Strategic Action Plans. Ms. Kosta is a gender expert, preparing and delivering training programs on gender issues, and facilitating the preparation of gender policies and action plans for state institutions and local government units. She is co-author of different research and publications in the areas of her expertise. Ms. Kosta holds an MSc degree in Social Work.

Katerina Panova Matoska is Programme Assistant at ARNO. Katerina’s engagement in the organization started with the project “Philanthropy for Green Ideas” and continued with the coordination of ARNO’s joint project with the Y-PEER Network and UNFPA. Her lead role was to organize several national events for strengthening the programs for peer education, including gender-transformative programs and to provide logistic support to the campaign “MenEngage”. Being passionate on work with grassroots communities, Katerina also provided support to the implementation of the “Changes for sustainability: Slow Food Cooking Classes” project and contributed towards greater promotion of the concept of social entrepreneurship. Katerina is a certified pharmacist. She was inspired by the dynamic and creative work in NGO’s sector, which was the main factor for her job transformation.

Ivana Markovic is the Grantmaking Program Senior Adviser at Trag Foundation. She has been with Trag since 2005 and currently leads the grant program team. From 2008 to 2018 Ivana has been responsible for the development and management of all grant programs in Trag, including management of the decision-making process. She has an excellent knowledge of the civil sector in Serbia and significant experience in grantmaking based on a bottom-up approach. Ivana has graduated from Landscape Architecture and she is certified by Project for Public Spaces (USA) as a Place-making consultant for Serbia. 

Panagiotis Tzannetakis is currently working with HumanRights360, focusing on social innovation, networking, and program design and implementation. He collaborated with Omnes, a grassroots housing association in Kilkis. Prior to joining HumanRights360, Panagiotis was working with Help Refugees, co-founding the Greek branch of the grassroots charity, where he focused on fostering partnerships between diverse stakeholders and supporting projects working towards the inclusion of newcomers. Panagiotis is a founding member of the Khora Community Centre in Athens. Panagiotis is an associate of Symbiosis, Civic School of Political Studies, supporting in the organizations of seminars on urban practice and social inclusion. He is a member of the Technical Steering Committee of ‘Curing the Limbo’, an Urban Innovative Actions funded pilot housing project in Athens, and a member of the Board of Experts of the Balkan Forum. He represents HumanRights360 in the Greek Network for the Right to Shelter and Housing, where he serves as the secretary of the Board of Directors.

Veroniki Zerva is the Community Engagement and Expansion Lead of Reload Greece Foundation since 2017 programme managing the international pre-accelerator, Young Entrepreneurs Programme running across 5 countries, developing strategic partnerships with universities and key stakeholders and scouting for the Foundation. Prior to entering the fascinating startup world, she had managed award-winning PR campaigns for the European Commission and the European Parliament, as well as, multinational companies such as Google. Veroniki holds a degree in Political Science and History and at the moment concludes her Executive Masters in Global Business at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.  


Mirjana Šakić is responsible for developing Erste Group Bank‘s social banking – which aims to help those on low incomes, new entrepreneurs, and social organizations – across central and Eastern Europe. As well as designing strategies and activities to support social enterprises and social finance, Mirjana also helped develop the firm’s “supERSTEp” micro-banking programme for young entrepreneurs and start-ups in Serbia.

Xinying Tok has over 13 years' experience working in banking, consulting, and sustainability. She currently focuses on issues around sustainable investments and energy transition in Asia. She has worked at DBS Bank in roles ranging from risk management, equity research, and structured financing as well as in the philanthropic sector developing strategies to mitigate climate change in China and the US. In 2017, she was a Fellow at the Climate Strategies Accelerator run by Packard Foundation, Oak Foundation and Good Energies Fund focused on greening Southeast Asia’s freight industry. She has conducted training on Green Freight & Logistics for Southeast Asian government and industry representatives and was a speaker at the China Youth Climate Action Network’s annual conference.

Hong Lin has devoted herself to the philanthropic sector since 2010 as Director of programs at Narada Foundation, making a change from a more than ten year’s career as a software engineer and program manager. Her former employers include Sun Microsystems, Microsoft and a Silicon Valley startup. She holds Master’s and Bachelor’s Degrees in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the University of Geneva, Switzerland. She is currently the Secretary General of Ginkgo Foundation. Inspired by Ashoka Fellow Program, this foundation is focusing on sponsoring young social entrepreneurs in Mainland China. 


Visar Azemi is the Executive Director at the Balkan Green Foundation. Previously, Visar served as the representative and lecturer for the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) in Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo. He has over ten years of professional experience in the non-profit sector, with extensive knowledge in partnership development, strategic planning, program management, and marketing. His prior work also includes management work with the Central Texas College, International Organization for Migration, and KBR. Visar holds a graduate degree in electrical engineering from the University of Pristina, a second Bachelor’s degree in Management Studies, and a Master’s degree in International Financial Management from the University of Maryland University College.

Rinora Gojani is the Program Manager at the Balkan Green Foundation. Rinora specialized in European Union politics and policy and has a special interest in the energy sector, sustainable development, and activism in the Western Balkans. Previously, Rinora worked as a Senior Research/Policy Analyst for sustainable development issues at the Institute for Development Policy, where she also liaised with global environmental and sustainable development policy organizations. Additionally, she worked at the Ministry of European Integration where she cooperated intensively with the Ministry of Energy and Mining on providing inputs to the European Commission Progress Report. Rinora has been active in various civil society organizations, such as Integra NGO, where she coordinated ‘Our Future European Integration’ project, an exchange program that brought together young people from Kosovo, Serbia, and the Netherlands and Youth Initiative for Human Rights, where she mobilized volunteers, organized street actions and monitored the implementation of laws. Rinora has extensive experience in fundraising and organizing campaigns, with a focus on social, environmental, and development issues.

Antoaneta Ivanova is Program Manager of Philanthropy for Green Ideas, a regional program of Balkan Green Foundation that stimulates and encourages ambitious entrepreneurs within the Western Balkans in generating green business ideas that utilize local resources and revitalize disappearing traditional production chains and community-based markets. Antoaneta has immense 15-year experience in the civil society sector in Western Balkans with a focus on youth employment and social entrepreneurship development. Antoaneta’s primary focus has always been to map potential social innovators from the Balkan region and to help them to build their businesses from scratch, to support them in boosting their capacities, as well as to mentor and motivate them in enhancing their outreach.

Sonia Jagtiani is a program assistant for the Western Balkans and Sustainable Development programs. Prior to joining the Fund, Ms. Jagtiani worked as a researcher in Beirut for the Memory Initiatives on Syrian Cultures, researching the role of Syrian visual art in preserving and building cultural memory after the outbreak of the conflict. During 2016, she worked for small civil society initiatives in Lesbos, Athens, and the Ritsona refugee camp supporting refugees as a translator and doing community outreach organizing and advocacy to fill essential gaps. Ms. Jagtiani also worked in London for organizations supporting immigration detainees, asylum seekers, and refugees and as an ESL teacher in France. She holds a Master of Arts in religion in global politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, where she concentrated on forced migration and human rights studies. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts from Louisiana State University where she double majored in international studies and French and minored in political science. She is fluent in French, Hindi, and Urdu, intermediate in Arabic and beginner in Spanish.

Mia Vukojević is the Program Director for the RBF’s Western Balkans Program. Ms. Vukojević brings exceptional experience working with civil society, international organizations, governments, and grant-making institutions in the Western Balkans and beyond. She most recently served as a program officer for the Oak Foundation’s Issues Affecting Women Programme in Geneva, Switzerland. Her program development and grant-making expertise include strategies for building accountability and citizen participation, strengthening organizational capacity, and supporting the leadership, knowledge, networks, and engagement needed to advance movements for system change. Prior to her tenure at the Oak Foundation, Ms. Vukojević worked with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe as a monitoring and reporting officer for the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, served as executive director of the Trag Foundation in Serbia, and managed humanitarian emergency response programs for Oxfam Canada and Oxfam Great Britain. Ms. Vukojević holds an MA from Carleton University’s Institute of European and Russian Studies, Faculty of Public Administration and Management in Ottawa.