We are pleased to present Tanja Todorović, a 29-year-old girl from Zrenjanin, one of the winners of a grant to start her own business within the regional youth empowerment project YourJob. Tanja is a master defectologist for addiction diseases, a psychological counselor and psychotherapist in education, as well as a trainer of development skills. Thanks to the financial support she received within the YourJob project, she gained the opportunity to make her dreams true and open a center for prevention, education and counseling.

The precondition for participating in the competition for obtaining a grant for starting a private business was participation in a three-day boot camp for entrepreneurship, which was held on Fruška gora. This was followed by making a business and financial plan under professional mentorship. Finally, PITCH followed – a short presentation of the business idea, which was to convince the independent grant committee that your idea is worth the financial support.

We talked to Tanja, who shared her impressions with us after learning that she won the grant.

Congratulations on your grant! How did you feel when you got the good news?
Thanks a lot! My business idea of opening a center like this has been around for a long time and when I found out I got a grant, it was like a dream come true. But I have to admit that at one point I was taken aback and thought, “uh, what’s next?” I first celebrated with colleagues who also received grants and with our wonderful GC, Milica Bogdanov, and then with family and friends.

How much does the received grant mean to you?
The grant really means something to me in every sense, in the first place financially, but also as a wind in the back, because my business idea is recognized as something that has potential. At this point, I would not be able to start my own business without a grant, but I would not give up on my idea.

Why a Center for Prevention, Education and Counseling?
Through volunteer work in some institutions, organizations, and projects of the ministry, I gained experience in working with children, adolescents and adults. What they all have in common is that they all face numerous life and development problems and challenges, and that everyone needs someone to hear, understand and accept them.

Mental and emotional difficulties are not something that someone chooses, but they are something that can be solved with help and support. The period of adolescence is very sensitive and thus the most risky period of life for young people, where there are many risky behaviors that disrupt the healthy formation of personality. Also, adults have many challenges such as different types of stress, partnership, parenting, work, different mental states… What has also been shown through therapeutic work is that almost every person who had some kind of trauma in childhood, later manifested through some behavioral disorders or emotional and / or psychological disorders. Statistics show that an increasing number of young people are addicted to psychoactive substances and show various emotional and psychological disorders, and that the number of people with mental disabilities is increasing by about 500,000. Also, new research on mental health in the new pandemic situation shows that every 3rd person has developed some psychological and emotional disorders such as anxiety or depression.

Therefore, it is important to protect mental health, ie to enable community members to fully develop psychological and emotional potentials, abilities and skills, as well as to provide timely therapeutic assistance. Through an individual approach tailored to the individual, but also group work to those who share identical problems. Preventive work for those who do not have mental difficulties is important for providing information on mental health and quality of mental life, as well as for changing those aspects of personality that we are not satisfied with and getting to know ourselves. While workshop work aims to strengthen positive strengths and capacities as well as support others.

By helping others, we help ourselves, but also the whole community!

To what extent do you think boot camp helps you achieve that? In what way?Bootcamp has enabled me to acquire knowledge and skills that will mean that I can turn my love for my profession into a business idea and start a business that I want to do. The entire program of the boot camp is extremely organized, what I think will be most useful for me is the knowledge to write a business plan regarding the financial part and how to present your idea as a whole. That gave me guidelines in which direction my idea can be realized. Boot camp is a new experience for me, with a lot of positive energy and great ideas. What left a special impression on me were the young entrepreneurs who were guests at the boot camp and who shared their experiences and gave us the wind in our sails. I made new acquaintances at the boot camp. After the camp, I continued to hang out with Jevrosima Njegomirović, I’m sorry that her idea didn’t work out, but I’m sure she will find her way to success. And maybe we can achieve some cooperation in terms of our business ideas. This was a group of young people who are full of enthusiasm and great ideas. I think that each of those ideas will be successfully realized.

Do you think that more programs like this should be organized? Why?
Of course it should! A lot of young people who have ideas, knowledge and skills, but do not know how to shape them into a business idea, which we learned at the camp. Also, many do not have the financial means to start their own business, and Yourjob is a great opportunity for young people to stay in their country while doing the job they love.

What do you have to say to your peers in Serbia?
If you dream something, you can make it happen, if you wake up and grab your dreams in your hands. And never give up on your ideas!

Congratulations once again to Tanja and we wish her good luck in the continuation of the project and her career.