In Croatia jobs were scarce, so Elizabeta Žalac thought she would have to leave home to find work. But an EU investment helped keep this talented young engineer in her native country.

  Dobila sam posao:  Elizabeta i ekološka autoindustrija u Hrvatskoj

When Elizabeta Žalac was born in Đurđevac, a town of 6,000 people in northern Croatia, her parents still drove a Soviet-built Lada. Now she works on one of the world's fastest cars.

Elizabeta studied medical device design at the University of Zagreb but she saw little opportunity to advance her career at home. “I thought I was not going to be able to find a job in Croatia, especially because there weren’t many jobs in the area I specialised in,” she says. “So I was thinking about leaving the country, but I really wanted to stay in Croatia, close to my family and friends.”

She saw an ad for a job as a battery engineer at Rimac, Croatia's sole home-grown carmaker. Rimac manufactures cutting-edge battery technology, which can be used not only in sports cars, but also trains, buses - even wheelchairs. The European Investment Bank first backed Rimac with a loan through HBOR, the Croatian national development bank. Then, in December 2018, the EIB signed a €30 million loan with Rimac to fund the firm’s research and development.

 “What was really important for me was the green aspect of the company,” says Elizabeta.

Rimac’s recruiters saw how committed she was, and they hired her. Her first job: batteries for an electric racing car for Spain’s SEAT. There was only one other woman working in her department, and she had doubts about working in a male-dominated industry, but her colleagues turned out to be very supportive. “I asked questions, I studied after I came home from work, and soon got the hang of it, with the help of colleagues,” she says.

Today, she is working on Rimac’s sports car Concept 2, which reaches a top speed of 412 kmh. “I’m really proud that I’m working in a company that is part of global change, a company that actually has a positive impact on the world and the environment,” she says, “and that all this is happening in a small city, in a country as small as Croatia.”

Elizabeta’s job is one of millions created with the support of the EIB, the EU bank.  By 2021, investments signed by the EIB Group in 2017 alone are expected to have raised EU GDP by 1.1% and to have created 1.2 million jobs. Even in 2036, there will still be a 0.7% increase in EU GDP as a result of the EIB's 2017 investments, as well as 650,000 extra jobs. Jobs like Elizabeta's.