Tihana Smitran is an entrepreneur from Croatia. She is the Co-Founder of MaNaBu, a youth empowerment platform, and the Founder and Owner of Amulet Studio, a creative tech agency in Croatia. Tihana visited Chicago in 2019 as a part of Tech, Education, and Entrepreneurship Professional Fellowship supported by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and implemented by WorldChicago. The program brought 16 emerging tech, innovation, entrepreneurship, and education leaders from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, and North Macedonia to Chicago for short- term professional development fellowships. Fellows like Tihana spent four weeks working with and learning from organizations across the Chicagoland tech ecosystem, including tech companies, government agencies, innovative NGOs, and university and non-university technology incubators.
In Chicago, Tihana worked with 2112 incubator, known as “Chicago’s first incubator,” focused on the development of business and entrepreneurs in music, film/video and creative technology. She worked directly with 2112’s founder, Scott Fetters. Together, they exchanged ideas, goals, and experiences to advance Tihana’s professional goals. Scott also introduced Tihana to several business and innovation leaders in Chicago, many of whom she stayed connected with after the fellowship. For Tihana, the most valuable aspect of her time in Chicago was the professional and personal connections she was able to make, both with other fellows and with the innovation community in Chicago. “Coming from different fields, we [the professional fellows] were all on the same mission to immerse ourselves in Chicago’s entrepreneurial environment, meet new people, create connections, and share experiences.” One of Tihana’s favorite memory of Chicago was attending the Chicago Innovation Award, where she got to witness a community of entrepreneurs coming together to empower and celebrate innovation. “The experience of working and living in Chicago was an experience of a lifetime that I will always remember.”
Inspired by the innovation leaders she met in Chicago, Tihana co-founded MaNaBu upon returning to Croatia. MaNaBu is a youth empowerment platform that helps children ages 5-9 understand global challenges and encourages action in order to inspire them to become leaders and advocates for a more sustainable future. Tihana came up with the idea after hearing a 7-year-old child, Maya, asking her, “why is my favorite park full of cigarette butts?” Tihana has partnered up with Andreas Wil Gerdes and decided to address Maya’s concern by building a movement to engage children like Maya in their communities through the simple but important tasks like cleaning up cigarette butts in public areas. It aims to show children that positive and tangible outcomes can be brought about through simple actions - no matter their age or ability level. They can be the changemaking leaders in their communities.
To learn more, visit the MaNaBu Movement website at www.manabumovement.com.