The graduation ceremony of the "Business Integrity Initiative", a project organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Bosnia and Herzegovina (AmCham BiH), was held at the US Embassy in Sarajevo on June 20. The Business Integrity Initiative is funded by the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), an American non-governmental organization affiliated with the U.S. Department of Commerce.
AmCham BiH launched the "Business Integrity Initiative" in 2022 with the aim of fighting corruption in business, by enabling employees who ensure that the company complies with all external regulatory and legal acts, as well as internal policies in member companies (Compliance Officers), to acquire knowledge and skills they need to develop and implement comprehensive compliance programs with external regulatory and legal acts in their companies. Companies participating in the project must agree to comply with the code of conduct, which includes compliance with all laws, contractual obligations and principles of fair competition, and the obligation not to cooperate with sanctioned individuals or companies. The project helps companies that want to attract investors or partners from Europe, the US and the world, which often requires them to comply with the requirements of international partners in terms of law, compliance and anti-corruption activities.
During the ceremony, the American ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Michael Murphy, handed over 25 certificates to representatives of companies whose employees completed the complete workshop course and passed the final exam. In his address, Ambassador Murphy cited statements from a global study by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners ("Association of Certified Fraud Examiners"), which showed that organizations lose five percent of their revenue each year due to fraud and corruption, while companies that implement a comprehensive business integrity program can reduce those losses by 50 percent or more. Ambassador Murphy highlighted other benefits of business integrity, including enabling companies to attract investment, partnerships or financing from Western firms and lenders, as well as help in recruiting and retaining talented workforce. He also emphasized the importance of this program for citizens:
“Business integrity is good for this country. If corruption continues to be the price that is accepted in order to do business in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it will kill the future of this country's economy. Let me once again recognize the corporate leaders and program participants present here today for incorporating business integrity into their companies. As you transform your companies and work to ensure that these best practices are taken up through your local supply chains, together you will have a tangible impact on the wider business climate here.”
Nedim Hamzić, Secretary General of the American Chamber of Commerce, explained in his address why AmCham BiH started this program:
"At AmCham BiH, we firmly believe that business integrity serves as a strong basis for sustainable economic growth and prosperity. It is the backbone of a successful business community that attracts reputable partners, investors and customers. By adopting ethical practices, we demonstrate our commitment to fairness, responsibility and responsible business conduct, earning the trust and respect of stakeholders both locally and internationally."
Ekaterina Lysova, program director of the Center for International Private Enterprises, closed the event with a call to action:
"Despite the name of this event, which says "final" ceremony within the Business Integrity Initiative, I sincerely hope that this is not the final engagement. In fact, this should be just the beginning. I hope that all of you who participated in the initiative and who will receive certificates today will continue to improve your own standards of integrity and come together to demand the same from your partners, both in business (throughout the supply chain) and in the public sphere (leaders in authorities and interested parties)."
All speeches and photos from today's event are available at the following link: https://shorturl.at/kHLYZ