Foreign business owners coming together in Split, Croatia, forming new organization

(Editor’s note: The first version of this post about the Split expat business community included dated content. The post has been updated with additional information.)

Croatia has increasingly attracted entrepreneurs in recent years and now draws in almost all sectors of
the business world. Those desiring to innovate, courageous enough to pursue their goals, then endure discover Croatia is a land of vast opportunity.

With a rapidly growing international community, the desire to better integrate into Split’s local community has also heightened. That’s resulting in the city currently experiencing an influx of organizations popping up to better assist internationals with integrating into Split’s varied business community.

Now, foreign and returnee business owners in the Split-Dalmatia area are also rising to the demand and aiming to establish the first formal Foreign Business Owners Association in the area, making successful innovation within reach for all foreign and returnee business owners in the Split-Dalmatia region.

This demonstrates Croatian officials plans to continue molding the country into an ideal business hub for the foreseeable future.

Foreign and returnee business unite

This November, foreign entrepreneurs across Split came together to begin the process of establishing an association aimed at better assisting foreign and returnee business owners’ journeys within the city’s growing ecosystem. The initiative is led by local American entrepreneur and Fig Restaurant co-owner Geoff Bratton. Bratton is a long-time resident who is well-versed in the complexities foreign and returnee business owners often encounter when seeking to establish sustainable enterprises in the Dalmatia area.

The collective held two meetings in November. The events brought together professionals from diverse niches seeking to ease the current difficulties of fully integrating into Split’s business community. Twenty attended the first meeting, while 60 across the region have since joined the WhatsApp group.

Jeff Bratton, center at table in brown shirt, leads the initiative. (Photo courtesy of Split Photo Agency.)

The first meetings addressed the formalities of the association’s objectives, legalities, and
requirements to create a formal association in Croatia.

The meeting began with formalities of addressing objectives, legalities and requirements to create a formally recognized association in Croatia. The the group laid out aspects the organization would like to address, ranging from legal help, barriers, immigration, resources and integration.

The plan is to also welcome and further unify with Croatian business owners through
networking events and collaborations.

The group is gaining great traction by nailing down specific aims, meeting regularly, significantly expanding the community, creating network and outreach outlets, and appointing roles including: • • •President – Jeff Bratton (Fig Restaurant),

• Vice-president – Sara Dyson (Expat in Croatia),

• Media & Socials – Fedja Mirsirlic ( Smartspace ),

• J’Nai Emery (Dispatches Europe contributor) and events

• Renata Megda van Haasteren (Global Events Planner).

Discussions continued with everyone sharing their business journey experiences in Croatia thus far. As all are at varied points on their venture paths, it was interesting and equally inspiring to hear about the diverse industries, relatable difficulties and appreciated successes encountered while establishing a business in the Split-Dalmatia area.

In 2021, similar experiences were shared by Paul Bradbury – a well known Brit who is a long-time resident of the Dalmatia region, founder CEO of Total Croatia News, and author of the book “Croatia A Survival Kit for Foreigners.”

The overall theme of the gathering was optimistic, unified and ambition, connecting local international business owners and entrepreneurs through socialization, story-sharing, and encouragement – strengthening bonds and friendships.

Foreign and returnee business owners seek stronger ties with local business community

Until now, foreign and returnee business owners have approached establishing a business in Split individually, each with their own legal teams and often without communal support. Now, instead of struggling alone, they’re motivated to create a formal association.

For all business owners in Croatia, the bureaucracy is tough. Not speaking the language just adds another layer of difficulty. Yet despite bureaucratic dilemmas, Croatia truly is a land of entrepreneurship, and the society embraces innovation.

These newly founded efforts to create a Split-Dalmatia Foreign Business Owners Association signifies a
much-welcomed era of hope for the future of foreign and returnee business owners and entrepreneurship in the region.

Up-to-date lawyer-verified information on all business-related aspects in Croatia can be found, in English, on the Expat in Croatia platform.

Meetings are in English to better connect and link Split’s growing international business community. While the organization is currently in the beginning stages more information regarding future networking details and getting involved can be inquired via email. Formal monthly meetings with Split/Dalmatia-based foreign and returnee business owners alongside entrepreneurs are in the planning stages.

Follow the association’s Facebook page for future event details.


See more here on the official government website about establishing a company in Croatia.

See more of J’Nai’s posts here in Dispatches’ archives.

J'Nai Emery
Contributor | Website | + posts

J’Nai Emery is a passionate freelance copywriter who embodies writing as an art
form. The past ten years have led this travel addict all around the world, both living
and working internationally. Formerly a University Lecturer, she now enjoys the
creative world of IT/Digital Marketing alongside the freedom it offers in working
remotely. J’Nai is a well-cultured European-adopted American currently based in
beautiful Split, Croatia.

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