Alumni Feature: Vedran Didara, Croatia

Vedran and other Fall 2015 Professional Fellows at a volunteer activity with the Chicago Cultural Mile Association

"Volunteering experience from [the Professional Fellows Program] in Chicago gave me the resolution and clear direction on how to get myself involved in community projects and help projects with skills I have.”

WorldChicago’s Professional Fellows Program encourages and empowers participants to give back to their communities after the program’s completion. Vedran Didara of Croatia was no exception.

The entrepreneurship expert has a strong background in supporting Croatian SMEs. Vedran has held several roles in both the public and private sectors, in which he has worked to expand the Croatian tech ecosystem. Nearly five full years after traveling to Chicago for the Professional Fellows Program in 2015, Vedran has called on the values of citizen diplomacy to help his community respond to new challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, stating, “During COVID-19 quarantine in Croatia, as an alumnus, I have felt that I need to help my community with the knowledge I can share on business idea development.”

In response to the virus, Vedran applied to be a mentor for the HRvsVIRUS project (https://versusvirus.hr/). This knowledge sharing platform was designed to gather people virtually to brainstorm ideas to combat COVID-19. Vedran took a leadership role in mentoring two different teams, in which capacity he guided them on how to develop a business plan with a social impact.

One project revolved around easing the burden on parents who found themselves in a position of having to navigate remote work and childcare at the same time. The other focused on the development of a smartphone application to enable users to ask for any kind of help based on their location (such as requesting a grocery delivery to their home).

According to Vedran, “the energy from participants of the project was amazing and it was a truly rewarding experience.” He added, “[HRvsVIRUS] gave me an opportunity to help my community to deal with the situation we were all in. Volunteering experience from [the Professional Fellows Program] in Chicago gave me the resolution and clear direction on how to get myself involved in community projects and help projects with skills I have.”

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