Interview with Senad Alibegovic, an Activist, Philophile, Wanderluster

October 11, 2017 6:00 PM

Senad Alibegovic is an activist, philophile, wanderluster, wisdom chaser and youth leader with nearly ten years of social engagement experience born in 1991 in Visoko, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). He holds Master of Architecture Engineering (Summa Cum Laude) and a Master of Political Science in European Integration, both specialized in human rights of people with disabilities and creating barrier free environment. Since he blindly believed in multidisciplinary educational approach, his unprecedented combination awoke his passion for human rights and architecture, while professional carrier guided him toward community organizing, start-ups, innovations and entrepreneurship.

During his 10 previous years of civic engagement, he has worked with a number of local, national and international organizations, including Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and UNDP, positioning himself as one of the most influential youth leaders in BiH and one of the strongest BiH youth voices. Senad is one of the initiators for the establishment of several organizations, including Youth Council of Visoko Municipality, “Damar Omladine”, MREVUK – Network of High School Councils of Zenica – Doboj region, etc.

As part of his extensive practical experience in civil society organizations, he has participated in, co-ordinated and implemented numerous projects, represented BiH as a youth ambassador around the world, and was part of several prestigious fellowship programmes. Senad is Humanity in Action 2014 Fellow for Human Rights, Pat Cox 2015 European Parliament Fellow, European Forum Alpbach Fellow and OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina Youth Advisory Group Member. In 2016, he had a TEDx talk on the topic of youth engagement and activism in Bosnia and Herzegovina: “Are you brave enough to ask for more”.

Senad is part of the strong millennial movement of youth leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina who are always moving boundaries and using their skills, competences and knowledge to contribute to advocate for inclusive and open society.

At the moment he is engaged as Sales and Marketing Director at innovation, creative and start-up center Networks INT and Managing Director at first regional innovation forum “Sarajevo Unlimited”.

ST: You are “famous” as a person who travels a lot. Which continents have you visited so far? How many states in total?

Being a wanderluster is in my veins. I discovered the advantages of being a global citizen at early age of my life, therefore, vegetating only at one little corner of Earth was always making me anxious. Exploring new places, different habits, rich cultures and broadening my horizons use to be the only solution for being peaceful and thrilled, but also the school on its own. Lessons I have learned by mixing with humans different by all means, architecture I saw and history I witnessed shaped me as I am, both individually and professionally. With every journey taken there was huge inner journey.

So far I have seen approximately 35 different countries. Some of them I have seen only once, while for majority I went back since I always felt I was simply not done with the place I visited.

Once I have heard that travel is fatal to prejudice and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. For me, travelling is like reading – no matter how much you know you should never stop because the lessons to be learned are always countless.

Speaking about the favourite place that Mr. Alibegovic visited he says that he has experienced several travel moments so spellbinding, so breath-taking, and so fascinating, that have left him short of breath. After visiting almost 35 countries there are several instances that have affected him so deeply.

 “And one of those was visiting the Alhambra in Granada. It was once in a lifetime chance to have been able to live and experience the cultural variations expressed within every corner of this lively place, while its monumental and imposing structure with its historical story of diversity and clash of cultures left the immense impact on my architectural sense. Simply stunning!

In next couple of months I am preparing for several unique travel experiences in every possible way, and one of them is to the land of mystic healing, traditional medicines, artistic culture and scrumptious food – Bali. I can already feel new favorite travel experience!

ST How you manage to find time to be that much successful and have time to travel as well?

It is all about adequate time management and about being passionately in love with things you do, no matter how cliché it sounds. For me travelling experience was always part of my professional and educational upbringing, therefore, starting from high-school over university days I was always using seminars, conferences, educations and exchanges abroad as an excuse to have free or paid trips to unknown places. That is how I managed to have so many passport stamps until I was 25, but also to finish my both degrees and to get professional engagement.

One of the important things Mr.Alibegovic is currently working on is Sarajevo Unlimited, this year, transforming itself into much bigger innovation festival-like event happening from November 2nd until 4th at six different locations: Dom Mladih Skenderija, Cinema Meeting Point, Networks, Mikser House, Vijecnica and Courtyard by Marriot hotel.

Sarajevo Unlimited is definitely not yet another conference. We love to say that we are platform for making people feel intoxicated by the madness of idea and beauty of innovation. That is actually how we came up with the idea of mapping Sarajevo as city of talents and innovations.

As a result of one-year work in the field of entrepreneurship, education and promotion of culture of innovation, as well as efforts to reduce the so-called “brain drain”, which in the post-war period is measured by tens of thousands of young people, start-up, creative and innovation centre Networks created “Sarajevo Unlimited”, the first regional platform for gathering visionaries, innovators, youth leaders, institutions and domestic and foreign investors in one place. In November 2016, during the two days of the Forum we managed to bring 35 speakers from 13 countries around the world and the world’s most prestigious companies, to host 1300 participants during two keynote speeches, 3 panel discussions, 5 parallel workshops, a start-up and innovation fair, trainings for young entrepreneurs and present 32 best start-up stories and 20 innovations from different fields. 

The whole idea behind the Sarajevo Unlimited is to present Sarajevo and whole Bosnia and Herzegovina as a truly unlimited space, as well as put an emphasis of the region and world on what we are best in – namely talents, innovations, ideas and creativity, and through real examples show to youngsters of Bosnia and Herzegovina that with ideas and creativity, success is possible here, in our country but also in the region.

Feedback that we have from companies, institutions, organizations and individuals from all around the world and line-up of speakers coming this year is clear evidence that “Sarajevo Unlimited” was necessary platform and proof of success we made even before the official start of the forum. However, this would not be possible without our sponsors Logosoft, m:tel and Raiffeisen bank. In order to have full circle of successful promotion we need people who will come and join this platform, therefore, I am inviting everybody to check out our new website and register themselves. Be unlimited!

Being ambitious group of people we decided this year to gather 3000 people during three days (from November 2nd until 4th) at six different locations, with more than 55 worldwide know speakers (Swatch, Deutsche Telecom, Nordnet, etc.) and 50 regional start-up stories (Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina).

Interview by Zejna SY


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