eTrafika, a small civil society media association from BIH, focuses on reporting about the needs of the most vulnerable communities, from the LGBT population to immigrants. Driven by the idea to make their business sustainable, their editor-in-chief Vanja Stokić, with the support of the Media for All project and their mentor, eTrafika launched the first Bosnian photo stock website – www.fotobaza.ba.
The media demonstrated a successful case of journalists expanding their views, knowledge and skills to develop a business model. The project did not only provide development opportunities, but it also allowed them to respond to a recognised need of local photographers – photojournalists, professional photographers who do not work with media and amateurs alike- to protect copyright and be compensated while enabling media to avoid copyright infringement suits. The final goal is to be present in the ex-Yu region with both photographers and photos, making them available to the media industry, marketing agencies and business companies.
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Prior Project Media Landscape
Being a non-profit media, with only two employed staff members and a constant financial struggle, the media was not aware of its commercial potential. Editor-in-chief realised there is a clear need by all stakeholders, primarily small and local media, to use photographs and videos with legal certainty, i.e., without copyright infringement. To respond to this need using a viable business model, eTrafika team needed to open itself to a more business-oriented mindset and transform parts of its energy and resourcefulness towards that goal. The fact that its leader, Vanja, has a strong, but not fully developed, entrepreneurial streak created an excellent opportunity for this process.
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The objective of the project was to connect with photographers and through their education, increase the number of photos on the platform for the clients. In the initial support cycle, over 500 photographers published 7,500 photos, with 800 photos sold to 60 registered customers. The extended phase saw 100 additional photographers offering over 3,500 photos. As of April 2023, the website showcases 13,467 photos by 830 photographers from four countries. (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia). Additionally, through a series of strategic events, eTrafika facilitated experience exchange among photojournalists, strengthening its market position.
While eTrafika excelled in the supply side, meeting the original goals but the demand side proved challenging. However, mentoring and capacity building helped the team understand this as a normal occurrence. The positive response from photographers and the recognition received has been remarkable.
The project allowed eTrafika to develop a business-oriented strategic approach and advance entrepreneurial skills. Stakeholders from the region expressed interest in similar databases, supporting eTrafika’s expansion plans. eTrafika is yet to meet its financial goals – with the last six months being the most difficult ones – the first revenue realised, and more is to come. Being a pioneer in this area, creating a start-up and establishing a good relationship with photographers will allow eTrafika to further work on sales deals, potential investors and grants that will support it further.
The most significant challenge the project faced was the change that encompassed mission leading individuals (and media) to endorse business orientation. This change meant shifting away from their previous focus on human rights to something unfamiliar to them – marketing and sales. Another challenge was a lack of a salesperson on the team. This problem was resolved by strategically employing a salesperson during the project duration. The team selected a candidate who would enhance eTrafika’s online visibility as an online influencer. However, this challenge remains as the person was engaged only during the project implementation. One of the most important issues eTrafika had was product development and external people management. With money going out of pocket and having no result, eTrafika had to adopt a tougher stance with developers and accountants.
“When asked if Vanja has developed or advanced her entrepreneurial skills, I say – advanced. She had always had it in her, this rebellious attitude that drives her journalism – now this strong urge was directed towards a business idea that she believes in, and, despite some challenges, she has not stopped since.” – Aleksandar Birovljev, eTrafika mentor