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The first version of SME Compass was launched in 2023 during the SME100 Expo Conference. Our intention is for SME Compass to be used by policymakers, financial institutions, the donor community, entrepreneurs, academics, and the general public as an important resource for understanding the importance and development of the SME sector. SME Compass has clear policy and programming implications, pinpointing key challenges and opportunities across topics, sectors, and regions.

About SME Compass

SME Compass is a unique set of data and visualization tools that allow users to explore the competitiveness of Serbia’s SME sector across key areas, track dynamics over time, and discover new growth opportunities for Serbia’s sectors and regions. Built as the flagship SME-dedicated portal at the Center for Advanced Economic Studies (CEVES), the SME Compass is powered by CEVES’ annual competitiveness survey of 1,500 businesses, and a decade-long, SME-oriented research and proficient process of data collection and verification. Development of SME Compass has been supported by Big Small Businesses Project, implemented by ACDI/VOCA and financed by USAID.

SME Compass places its nine pillars of competitiveness at the core of SME sector development prospects, where the sector’s diversity, resilience, and flexibility strongly influence how development occurs. SME Compass combines official domestic and international data sources and tailor-made questionnaires with integrated insights from CEVES’ research in a way that is easily accessible and interactive. Portal continually evolves with new data and features to help answer questions such as:

  • What is the level of Serbia’s SME competitiveness?
  • How does this level of competitiveness compare to other European countries?
  • What are the drivers of SME competitiveness? Which factors are propelling, and which are constraining the sector’s development?
  • Which sectors are likely to emerge as frontrunners?
  • How does the SME sector cope with new transformational trends, including green and digital shifts?
  • What are the development prospects of a given sector or region in the coming years, based on the strength and sentiment of enterprises?

About CEVES

CEVES stands as Serbia’s prominent economic think-and-do tank, striving for the socio-economic alignment of Serbia and the Western Balkans with the European Union. It is dedicated to promoting sustainable and inclusive economic growth and sound political economy that is entrepreneurially driven and adheres to the rule of law. CEVES’ particular emphasis is on developing the private sector, especially SMEs, accountable governance and responsible green transition.

The organization continues to advocate for developmental policy shift towards empowering the domestic SMEs, positioning them as ‘hidden champions’ and key drivers of economic growth.

Recognizing the growing importance of an emerging segment of high-performing manufacturing SMEs, CEVES has influenced the strategic approaches of international partners and the developmental initiatives of the Chamber of Commerce. CEVES continues to advocate for a shift in the country’s development policy focus towards the country’s SMEs, many of which are becoming true “hidden champions” and potential growth drivers.

Data analysis is integral to CEVES’ mission, with the organization being recognized for its data-driven and empirical approach to shaping policy and its advocacy efforts. Its data analyses are characterized by its rich detail, rigorous yet practical application of economic principles, and a unique ability to identify and communicate emerging economic patterns. The organization’s commitment to and methodology for data excellence are detailed further in the Data Excellence section.

About Big Small Businesses

Big Small Businesses is a five-year activity that empowers Serbian market actors to lead localized initiatives that spur small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) growth. The activity strengthens SME linkages with business support providers to improve their productivity and profitability; expand SME exports to regional, EU, and other markets; and strengthen SME access to financing instruments. By accelerating economic growth and increasing equitable prosperity, the activity contributes to USAID’s overall goal of a more prosperous and democratic Serbia committed to European integration and self-reliance.

Big Small Businesses is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented in partnership with  ACDI/VOCA, J.E. Austin Associates, Center for Advanced Economic Studies (CEVES), and the Ana and Vlade Divac Foundation.

Team behind SME Compass

SME Compass is led by Nemanja Sormaz and Pavle Medic, resulting from collaborative efforts among the CEVES SME team, various researchers, industry partners, and our alumni network.

We extend our gratitude to the Research team and our Alumni, with special mentions to Lazar Zivkovic, Mihailo Paunovic, and Bojan Jankovic.

Director

Nemanja Sormaz

Nemanja Šormaz is the Director of Center for Advanced Economic Studies (CEVES). During five years in CEVES, he has been actively engaged with policymakers and other key stakeholders on economic development projects. He develops and coordinates projects with a goal to enable sustainable, smart and inclusive economic growth.

Nemanja is a lead author of two foundational and innovative studies “Serbia’s Real Sector Performance” and “Supporting and stimulating growth of competitive industries – Development Potential Index”. He led an in-depth gap analyses of 1.000 firms of Serbia’s economy, through survey and interviews, with a goal to understand critical success factors of performance and competitiveness, as well as existing constraints that block the potential of firms in Serbia’s economy.

During his career, he has also gained very significant experience and knowledge as a special adviser to Mrs. Ana Brnabic, Minister of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, and Kori Udovicki, the Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia’s Government. He led a process of rightsizing of Serbia’s general government, while creating a holistic and clear picture about its structure, functionality and performance, with a goal to enable regular monitoring and measuring of its results, as well as the international benchmarking.

Deputy Chief Economist

Pavle Medic

Pavle Medic is the Deputy Chief Economist at the Center for Advanced Economic Studies (CEVES). As Deputy Chief Economist, he is engaged at managing and developing projects and project proposals, as well as selecting and training of employees. He primarily covers the topics of labor market, private sector development, public finances, inequality, as well as various types of impact assessment analyzes.

He started his professional career with a summer internship at the National Bank of Serbia in the Sector for Monetary Operations in 2018, after which has been employed in CEVES. He gained substantial experience working as an independent consultant for leading international and domestic organizations – the World Bank, the International Labor Organization, UNICEF, The Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit, the Union of Employers of Serbia and similar. Since September 2021, he is engaged at the Faculty of Law, University of Belgrade, where he works as a teaching associate for the subjects Principles of Economics and Financial Markets.

He graduated in Economic Analysis and Policy at the Faculty of Economics, University of Belgrade, and is currently in the process of writing a master’s thesis in the International Masters in Quantitative Finance (IMQF) program at the same faculty. He is also completing a master’s degree at the Law and Economics Module of the Faculty of Law, University of Belgrade.

Viktor Bacanek

Junior Data Developer

Sanja Polovina

Brand and Web Designer

Borivoj Ivanovic

Web Developer

Quality Over Quantity

Data Excellence

1

Data Integrity

At CEVES, we adhere to a rigorous process of data verification and validation to ensure the highest quality of information within the SME Compass. Our annual survey is thoroughly designed to be fully representative, crafted to reflect reality objectively and minimize biases. The entire process, from the training of enumerators to the verification of responses, is led by statistical professionals.
2

Integration of Diverse Data Sources

The SME Compass integrates diverse data sources, from Serbia’s official statistics and reputable international databases to annual surveys and financial statements. Each dataset undergoes careful cleansing and verification. Whenever possible, we utilize cross-referencing against multiple trusted sources to uphold data accuracy and reliability.
3

Timely Data

We are committed to providing users with access to real-time or near-real-time data whenever possible, empowering them to make informed decisions promptly. Timely access to data is crucial for businesses to stay ahead in a rapidly evolving economic landscape.
4

User-centric Design

We invest our best efforts in creating user-friendly SME Compass dashboards, facilitating intuitive navigation and simplifying the understanding of complex data. Your constructive feedback is highly valued and instrumental in enhancing our work and platform.
5

Data-Driven Decision-Making Culture

CEVES encourages the promotion and adoption of a data-driven culture, illustrating how timely, reliable, and contextually presented data can serve as invaluable intelligence for decision-making.
6

Security and Ethical Data Use

We are dedicated to upholding the highest ethical standards in data collection, processing, and utilization, reinforcing the trust you place in the SME Compass platform.
7

Educational Resources and Support

Continuous support and expert advice are pillars of our commitment to SMEs and all stakeholders, aimed at enhancing data literacy and analytical skills.

Use and Permissions

The SME Compass serves as an open, complimentary resource designed to enhance knowledge of the SME sector in Serbia. We invite and support the collaborative use and dissemination of insights, visualizations, and data from the SME Compass. Should you reference these materials, please cite the source as follows:

“SME Compass powered by CEVES”; “http://www.SMEcompass.rs”.

Support Our Mission

SME Compass is made possible through the support of organizations that align with our mission to advance SME growth and prosperity. If you share our vision and are interested in contributing to the success of SMEs, we welcome you to reach out for more information on how you can support our mission.
Contact us via email at office@ceves.org.rs, or call us at +381 (11) 405 27 80.

Together, we can make a difference.

Contact Us

For inquiries about specific datasets, questions regarding our data, reports of any issues, or information on collaboration opportunities, the SME Compass team is ready to assist you. Please feel free to reach out to us via email at office@ceves.org.rs, and we will be pleased to provide the support you need.