Government grants and loans for entrepreneurs in Croatia: Guide for 2024

Croatian entrepreneurs at AmCham's "Digitalna Hrvatska 2030" conference in Zagreb
Croatian entrepreneurs at AmCham’s “Digitalna Hrvatska 2030” conference in Zagreb

UPDATED: 17.1.2024.

Let’s be honest. Croatia is not a super entrepreneur-friendly place. It’s easy to point to high taxes as the reason it’s not a great place to open a business and call it a day. However, it is likely more friendly than you would think.

There are certainly improvements to be made, but the situation for companies in Croatia is not all bad. The government, both at the state and city level, has a variety of financial incentives and loan programs available to both Croatian and foreign entrepreneurs who wish to do business in Croatia.

If you want assistance figuring out which funding program is best for you, contact us.

In this article, we cover:

The facts are these…

Government subsidy and loan programs available to both Croatian and foreign entrepreneurs

While there are some incentive programs only offered to small businesses owned by Croatian citizens, the state as well as some cities offer funding programs for businesses owned by foreign citizens too. Below is a list of the programs offered to both Croatian and foreign business owners in Croatia.

#1 Poticaji pri zapošljavanju osoba s invaliditetom (Support for the sustainability of self-employment of people with disabilities)

Deadline: available until the end of 2026.

Available to:

  • Disabled people registered with Očevidnik osoba s invaliditetom (A register of persons with disabilities). EU citizens must provide proof of invalidity from their home countries to register into Očevidnik. See more information here.
  • Croatian and foreign business owners whose company is registered in Croatia

This incentive is intended for people with disabilities who plan to launch their own companies and employers who want to employ persons with disabilities.

They can get an incentive from the state institution Zavod za vještačenje, profesionalnu rehabilitaciju i zapošljavanje osoba s invaliditetom – ZOSI (Institute for expertise, vocational rehabilitation, and employment of persons with disabilities).

This incentive is intended for existing small, medium, and large businesses that employ persons with disabilities, and individual persons with disabilities who don’t have a registered business but want to open one or want to get a job in integrative workshops and protective workshops at small, medium, and large businesses.

More information about this incentive and mandatory documentation for the submission of the request is available here.

#2 Potpore za pripravništvo (Employment grants for gaining first work experience/traineeship)

Deadline: None

Available to: Croatian and foreign business owners whose company is registered in Croatia who wish to employ a young Croatian citizen

Potpore za zapošljavanje za stjecanje prvog radnog iskustva – pripravništvo (Employment grants for gaining first work experience/traineeship) from HZZ is a state incentive for young people who are Croatian citizens and are starting with their first job.

This incentive is intended for these existing businesses in the private and public sectors. The incentive (or a part of it) must be paid back in case an employee stops employment or an employer stops paying salary to the employee during the term of the employment contract. In this case, an employer has 15 days to notify HZZ and return a portion of the subsidy.

More information on incentives for the private sector is available here.

More information on incentives for the public sector is available here.

#3 Subsidies from the City of Rijeka

Deadline: Reopens in September (recurring program)

Available to: Croatian and foreign business owners whose company is registered in the Rijeka area

The city of Rijeka annually offers non-refundable financial support to entrepreneurs living in the area of the city of Rijeka. The aim is to strengthen their appearance in the market and gain additional practical education.

This incentive is intended for existing small businesses in private ownership with headquarters in Rijeka and existing udruga (non-profit organizations) whose aim is to promote certain economic interests of the cluster. A cluster is a group of entrepreneurs who gather within one industrial sector in order to improve the placement of a certain product or service. At least one member of the cluster must have headquarters in Rijeka.

All the details about the previous competition can be found here.

#4 Financial support from Nacionalna zaklada za razvoj civilnog društva

Deadline: Varies.

Available to: Croatian and foreign business owners whose company is registered in Croatia

Nacionalna zaklada za razvoj civilnog društva (National foundation for civil society development) is a state institution that offers support to civil society organizations through financial support programs, co-financing EU projects, international programs, and EU programs.

Nacionalna zaklada supports programs that promote a non-profit sector, cross-sectoral cooperation, civil initiatives, philanthropy, volunteering, and other similar programs.

Active programs of financial support and open applications can be found here.

#5 Subsidies from the city of Split

Deadline: Reopens in March (recurring program)

Available to: Croatian and foreign business owners whose company is registered in the Split area

The city of Split has given non-refundable subsidies to small businesses – craft businesses that are, by the law governing the encouragement of small development economies, defined as small business entities.

Companies that can apply for this incentive are existing micro and small businesses (craft businesses). One applicant may submit only one application for the specified purposes. Support funds are approved up to 100% of eligible costs or up to a maximum of ~4.000 euro.

[Read: 3 Types of Obrt (Trade & Craft Businesses)]

The purpose of the aid is the procurement of machines, tools, informatics, and other equipment and accessories necessary for performing the activity for which they are registered, and the arrangement of business space located in the area of the city of Split.

All the details of the last application can be found here.

#6 Subsidies from the city of Osijek

Deadline: Reopens in October (recurring program)

Available to: Croatian and foreign business owners whose company is registered in the Osijek area

The city of Osijek gives annual subsidies within the program Opći program poticanja razvoja poduzetništva (General program for encouraging the development of entrepreneurship).

The incentive is intended for micro, small, and middle entrepreneurs or existing craft businesses, limited liability companies (d.o.o. and j.d.o.o.), and zadruga. There are two types of subsidies, a measure that supports the development of entrepreneurship, and a measure that supports the development of entrepreneurship for entrepreneurs from the IT sector.

View our guides on d.o.o. and j.d.o.o. and learn how to open and close limited liability companies.

All the details of the program can be found here.

Government subsidy programs available to Croatian entrepreneurs only

Some incentive and loan programs are available exclusively to small businesses owned by Croatian citizens. Below is a list of the programs offered to Croatian business owners only.

#1 EU fondovi (EU Funds)

Deadline: Varies by application

Available to: Croatian business owners whose business is registered in Croatia

Europski strukturni i investicijski fondovi (European structural and investment funds) offer a large spectrum of support and non-refundable funds for all kinds of projects and businesses.

These funds include financing from:

  • Kohezijski fond (Cohesion Fund) – view details here.
  • Europski socijalni fond (European Social Fund) – view details here.
  • Europski fond za regionalni razvoj (European Regional Development Fund) – view details here.
  • Europski poljoprivredni fond za ruralni razvoj (The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development) – view details here.
  • Europski fond za pomorstvo i ribarstvo (European Maritime and Fisheries Fund) – view details here.

All active applications can be found on the EU funds website. It is recommended to check this page frequently to see the latest open applications.

#2 Poduzetništvo mladih, žena i početnika (Entrepreneurship of young people, women and beginners)

Deadline: None

Available to: Croatian business owners whose business is registered in Croatia

The program Poduzetništvo mladih, žena i početnika (Entrepreneurship of young people, women and beginners) aims to encourage the entrepreneurship of young entrepreneurs, start-up entrepreneurs, and women entrepreneurs.

The program offers loans provided by one of the banks, with an interest rate of 2% which can be reduced in certain situations like employment of youth or subsidy of the country, city, or municipality. This program has a goal to help female entrepreneurs open up new businesses or expand existing ones.

More information, including the range of available funding amounts, is available here and here.

#3 Potpore za samozapošljavanje HZZ-a (Self-employment incentive from HZZ)

Potpora za samozapošljavanje HZZ-a (Self-employment incentive from HZZ) is a state-sponsored incentive. HZZ is a Croatian employment service, whose full name is Hrvatski zavod za zapošljavanje. Under this program, they are offering two separate incentives to encourage entrepreneurship among Croatian citizens.

[Read: What is HZZ (Croatian Employment Service) and how they can help you find a job or an employee]

These two incentives are focused on:

  • Self-employment incentive
  • Labor mobility

We’ll now review each part of the program in detail:

a) Potpora za samozapošljavanje (Self-employment incentive)

Deadline: Contact HZZ for deadlines

Available to: Unemployed Croatian citizens registered with HZZ who plan to launch a new business

This measure is valid for 24 months. The amount of incentive varies by business sector according to the Nacionalna klasifikacija djelatnosti (Statistical classification of economic activities).

To get this incentive, a group of people can team up into one business. If several unemployed persons establish and start a new business or continue with the business they have taken over, additional funds may be allocated to the determined amount of support. If more than one person joins a business, only two unemployed persons registered as unemployed by HZZ can receive financial support which includes fixed and variable costs.

This incentive or just a part of it must be paid back if the business closes during the term of support if financial reports aren’t submitted on time, or in other similar situations.

More information, including the range of available funding amounts, is available here.

b) Biram Hrvatsku – mobilnost radne snage (I choose Croatia – labor mobility)

Deadline: Until the funds are used

Available to: Croatian returnee citizens under the age of 60 from EEA countries

The incentive is an extension of the Croatian employment service’s (HZZ) self-employment incentive meant to motivate Croatian citizens to return and start a business and to encourage the population revival of areas with significant emigration.

The incentive is focused on Croatian returnee citizens under the age of 60 from EEA countries and those who have received the incentive Potpora za samozapošljavanje in 2022.

The incentive is valid for 24 months. In case of termination of the contract or if the person moves out of the area before the end of the 24 months, they have to return the paid funds increased by legal default interest.

More information, including the range of available funding amounts, is available here.

#4 Samozapošljavanje nezaposlenih hrvatskih branitelja (Self-employment of unemployed Croatian veterans)

Deadline: Until the funds are used

Available to: Unemployed Croatian citizens registered with HZZ who are veterans of the Croatian War of Independence or are their children

This state measure aims to open new workplaces within this target audience by giving a subsidy for self-employment. The incentive is intended for unemployed veterans of the Croatian War of Independence, and unemployed children of war veterans, war volunteers, and war invalids.

The subsidy is non-refundable as long as it is used according to the contract. After the submission of the request and before signing the contract for the subsidy, it is necessary to register a business in Croatia.

More information and the list of required documentation is available here. The whole program, including the range of available funding amounts, is available here.

#5 Stalni sezonac (Permanent seasonal worker)

Deadline: None

Available to: Croatian citizens who have worked continuously for at least 6 months with the same employer and who will work for the same employer for at least another season (at least 6 months)

The aim of the incentive is financial support to seasonal workers during the period when they are not working, in order to provide the necessary workforce to employers as applicants from all industries have periods of reduced workload during the year due to the seasonal nature of the business. The measure is valid for 6 months.

The employer may use the measure for the number of permanent seasonal workers corresponding to the number of permanent employees with the same employer.

More information is available here.

View our other business posts


Sources:

Mjere aktivnog zapošljavanja
ZOSI
HZZ
Financijske podrške
Europski strukturni i investicijski fondovi
Branitelji

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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