The Regional Challenge Fund (RCF) is a financing facility designed to increase youth employability. It boosts the competitiveness of enterprises in Western Balkan economies by funding investments in equipment and infrastructure for selected dual or cooperative training projects implemented through partnerships between vocational training institutes and enterprises. The grants are allocated through a competitive regional challenge.

The RCF is an initiative undertaken by German development bank KfW and financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), currently assigning 18,6 mil. EUR. The main implementation partner is the Western Balkans 6 Chamber Investment Forum, whose operations are supported by consultants from the Fund Management Unit.

The first round of applications demonstrated the attractivity of the RCF and significant interest in the WB6 region in the cooperation between the enterprises and educational institutions.

  • The RCF opened the First Call for Expressions of Interest from February until April 2021 and received 205 applications from consortia of vocational training institutes and enterprises from all Western Balkan economies.
  • The eligibility and compliance checks based on the predefined eligibility criteria resulted in shortlisting 66 consortia and inviting them to prepare the full project proposals.
  • ln the second step of the evaluation, external selection experts reviewed and scored the applications based on selection criteria.
  • The Selection Committee`s decision about the funds available for the first call resulted in 23 most successful projects being proposed for finance, allocating approximately 10 million Euros to the region.

First Annual Regional Conference

  • The RCF organizes its First Annual Regional Conference to share the experiences and lessons learned from its first call and promote the exchange among stakeholders in vocational education and training in the region. Cooperation among national economies in bringing education closer to the business is seen as crucial for achieving the objectives of improved employability, labour market relevance of VET, and increased competitiveness of enterprises.
  • The RCF also recognizes three additional aspects that cut across economic sectors and boundaries and their potential for building labour-market relevant skills in line with the current policy initiatives: green transition, regional integration, and digit(al)ization.


Wednesday, December 15th 2021

10.00 – 10.20

Opening Statements

  • Santiago Alonso Rodrigues, Head of Division, South-Eastern and Eastern Europe, South Caucasus, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
  • Klaus-Martin Müller, Director, Southeastern Europe and Turkey, KfW Development Bank
  • Mihailo Vesovic, Western Balkan 6 Chamber Investment Forum

Session moderator: Balsa Culafic, Project Coordinator, WB6 CIF

10.20 – 10.40

Key Note Speeches: Recent Trends and Challenges on Human Capital Development in the Western Balkan 6

  • How education sector investments contribute to the region’s economic resilience  Edo Omic, Economist, European Affairs and Studies Division, Council of Europe Development Bank
  • Human capital development: Recent progress with the Common Regional Market Action Plan, Siniša Marčić,  Expert on Human Capital Development, Regional Cooperation Council
10.40 – 11.00

Presentation: Lessons Learned from the First Call for the Expressions of Interest of the Regional Challenge Fund

  • Frieder Woehrmann, Team Leader, Fund Management Unit, Regional Challenge Fund
11.00 – 11.15

Virtual coffee break & visit to the exhibit hall

Panel sessions: Vocational Education and Training and Economic Development in the Western Balkan 6

11.15 – 11.45

Session 1: Potentials for Greening Vocational Education and Training for Green Growth in WB6

  • Esma Manic, Energy and Resource Efficiency Advisor, Enova Sarajevo
  • Dusan Stokic, Head of the Center for Environment, Technical Regulations, Quality and Social Responsibility, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia
  • Tanja Radusinovic, Head of the Sector for Projects, Chamber of Commerce Montenegro
  • Danijela Korac-Mandic, Programme Coordinator, Novi Sad Humanitarian Centre

Session moderator: Jelena Manic Radoicic, Regional Coordinator, RCF

11.45 – 12.15

Session 2: Cooperative VET and Digitalization

  • Anja Quiring, Regional Director South Eastern Europe, German Eastern Business Association
  • Albana Shkurta, Managing Director, Lufthansa Industry Solutions
  • Ulrike Damyanovic, Senior Human Capital Development Expert, European Training Foundation

Session moderator: Renato Vasili, Regional Coordinator, RCF

12.15 – 12.30

Virtual coffee break & visit to the exhibit hall

12.30 – 13.00

Session 3: Regional cooperation in the Western Balkan 6

  • Natasa Janevska, Expert at the Organizational unit for member representation and networking, Economic Chamber of North Macedonia
  • Маја Кrstevska, Head of department for development and adoption of programs, Public Institution Adult Education Center, Skopje
  • Sasho Nedeski, School principal, OEMUC “Sv. Naum Ohridski”, Ohrid
  • Dimitar Gjorgjiev, School Principal, SETUGS “Mihajlo Pupin”, Skopje
  • Lucilla Morelli, VET Project Manager and Intervet Project Manager for Bosnia Herzegovina and North Macedonia

Session moderator: Biljana Simeonova, Regional Coordinator, RCF

13.00 – 13.15

Concluding remarks

  • Tatjana Shterjova Dushkovska, Secretary General, Western Balkans 6 Chamber Investment Forum 


Regional Challenge Fund

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German Development Bank (KfW)

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Western Balkans 6 Chamber Investment Forum (WB6 CIF)

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The event's official language is English. Simultaneous translation to project languages (Albanian, Macedonian, SER/BH/MNE) will be provided.