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Young people in BiH are starting to seize everything that natural food and cosmetics sectors have to offer.

Amidst high unemployment amongst the young people in BiH, some are reconnecting with rural areas rich in natural resources and are using creativity and business development visions to boost their economic prospects.

A number of them joined the Hrana Gurmana campaign, implemented by the Sweden/USAID FARMA II project, and are using this communications platform to promote their natural cosmetics and food products. This time around, the campaign brings you three positive examples.

Fresh Air of Innovation

Using innovation as their strong suit, three young women from Mostar, Azra, Ružica, and Iris, launched their Gea.heal brand. They use natural raw materials from Herzegovina fields to produce lip balms, candles, and oils. Their key ingredients such as lavender, St. John's wort, immortelle, and yarrow are manually picked from the banks of pearly clean rivers. That infuses their products with just enough magic of authentic local nature to set them apart from the industrial counterparts.

As they explain, their main drive towards innovation was the desire to turn the love of local terrain into products that both provide body care and soothe the soul with authenticity and naturality in the age of sameness and mass production.

Changing the Perception of Food Production

Another good example is Fungi Kultura, also established by three young friends from Tuzla, Danijel, Erdžan, and Edis, who used their ambition and knowledge to launch the production of oyster mushrooms as both medicinal and gastronomic products.

Their creative idea was to produce these mushrooms solely on ecological principles and make them available via the innovative system of online orders, in addition to a local store.

The fact that these three friends come from a city did not prevent them from turning their agricultural business idea into reality. Oyster mushrooms do not require acres of land but are grown indoors, so they poured their energy into creating high-quality mushroom substrate consisting of quality wheat straw to which they add a secret ingredient – a spoonful of authentic love of mushrooms and the desire to stay and live in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Giving Tradition a Youthful Makeover

While oyster mushrooms are a relatively new product in BiH, young people are also ready to produce traditional products with novel approaches and youthful energy and creativity.

Erna Okanović, from Visoko, is a member of the family that has been traditionally involved with the harvesting and production of medicinal herbs. Erna decided to build upon this tradition with her Alt-Med brand, which she launched when she was only 16. Today, the products sold under this brand include various teas, ointments, and tinctures.  What sets her offer apart is Erna's decision to expand it with a medicinal parasitic fungus called Chaga (Inonotus obliquus), which has been used across Europe and Asia as a cure for cancer and other illnesses. Erna is 29 now, and her products are available at dedicated Alt-Med stores and through direct orders.

All these examples reinforce the idea that the production of natural food and cosmetics can contribute to job creation among young people, and that it offers a sufficiently broad playground for them to express their creativity, business vision, and readiness to try something new. So, we move on.