Monday, March 14, 2011

Hamby King and why not having McDonalds in BiH is bad

Hamby King, the first time you see it in Sarajevo you are surprised. There's no McDonald's in Sarajevo and yet you may stumble upon the sight of what appears to be a Burger King, not known for being an international brand. When I found this place for the first time I was surprised, but I figured it was a relic left over from the 1984 Winter Olympics. Once inside the Hamby king you realize though that the building and the name are the only things in common with Burger King, it is a bit of fun to see in person though, if you are visiting Sarajevo and you come across it.
Located in New Sarajevo about 1/2 way thru the city Hamby King is the closest thing to a McDonald's that you will find in Bosnia. Which is surprising since McDonald's are pretty much everywhere in the world. It's not to say that McDonald's didn't try to get into Bosnia after the war in the 1990's they recognized that Sarajevo was an international city with a lot of Americans and foreigners who would recognize their brand. For years McDonald's tried to make inroads in Bosnia with little to no success. The level of corruption, ineptitude and incompetence was too much for this multinational corporation to bear and after years of futility gave up on Bosnia. For some of my friends they consider this American example of excess and corporate McEconomic development to be a something they wanted no part of. While I am no fan of McDonald's, what I had to explain to them is how bad it is for investment if McDonald's gives up on you without success, your in trouble. Yes McDonald's is bad food served fast and the health ramifications of overeating is obvious but the other side is they are the pioneers of economic development, the first ones into a new territory and the last ones to leave (even Belgrade has one).
When McDonald's gave up on Sarajevo it meant so many other investors in Bosnia from the west would do likewise. Sometimes small victories become big defeats...