In the spotlight: Some inspiring women entrepreneurs from Albania
#WomenInBusiness #AlbanianEntrepreneurs #EmpoweringWomen #BusinessInnovation #SustainableGrowth
Albania, a nation on the rise, has experienced remarkable economic and social transformations in recent years. These changes have ignited a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit among the country’s young and ambitious individuals. A notable facet of this burgeoning entrepreneurial landscape is the increasing presence and influence of women. Albanian women have seized the opportunities arising from these transformations with tenacity and vision, contributing significantly to the country’s economic growth.
This shift towards women’s entrepreneurship isn’t merely a happenstance. It’s a strategic move evidenced by national policies. Albania’s Business Development and Investment Strategy for 2021-2027 places women’s entrepreneurship at its core, shifting from sporadic efforts to fully integrated, mainstream actions.
Historically, the Business and Investment Development Strategy for 2014-2020 featured a dedicated Women’s Entrepreneurship Action Plan. This plan not only fostered policy development but also facilitated training programs and funding initiatives, empowering women-led companies.
The new 2021-2027 strategy allocates a more substantial budget to agencies like AIDA, enabling comprehensive monitoring and analysis. This holistic approach will enhance coordination among various data sources and provide deeper insights into the impact of women’s entrepreneurship support on business growth.
Furthermore, a robust ecosystem of stakeholders actively raises awareness and extends practical support to women-led startups and businesses. The resulting social and environmental impact is impressive, promoting inclusivity and sustainability in Albania.
Here, we shine a spotlight on some of Albania’s inspiring women entrepreneurs, showcasing their journeys, innovations & contributions to the nation’s economic transformation.
>Rafaela Rica, Founder & CEO, Iceberg Communication
Rafaela Rica, Founder & CEO of Albania’s Iceberg Communication, set up the business in 1999. The company has now grown and provides advertising, media and public relations support to a wide portfolio of well-known brands, including international names such as Deloitte Albania, Statkraft and Samsung.
The EBRD helped the company with an advisory project to help in defining an ambitious business and investment plan and to develop internally its professional marketing function. This was complemented by access to finance under the EBRD’s Women in Business programme from Intesa Sanpaolo Bank; and, within a year, Iceberg’s turnover had increased 87 percent and
productivity by 70 percent.
She also volunteers as a mentor for several start-ups as well as for women-led businesses, both in her country and internationally. She was nominated for an award as Mentor of the Year 2018 as part of the Yunus Social Business Balkans programme.
> Blerina Ago, Founder, Active Albania
Blerina Ago is the founder of Active Albania – an innovative tourism company from Albania that offers active holidays in the Western Balkan. The company attempts to boost sustainable tourism, contributing to the development of new tourism products with a small impact on the environment such as – packrafting, kayaking, birdwatching, snorkelling, etc.
In 2020 she developed virtual travel show – Blerina Travels in Quarantine, sharing past travel experiences, aspirations, predictions and advice with various experts worldwide on how tourism will look during and after COVID-19.
Her additional conquests are – she is the author of 3 digital campaigns – Albania: Unparalleled, Exceptional and Authentic; Stay Safe Now and Visit Albanians Later; Be Taken by Albania. Plus, she is committed to saving the natural ecosystem of Osum Canyons from the construction of hydropower plants, in close cooperation with the national and international community. She strongly extends support to the tourism sector in the region, exchanging best practices and contributing to the drafting of legal framework for active tourism in line with international standards.
She was also voted Woman Entrepreneur of the year (2021) in the category Travel and Hospitality Woman Entrepreneur.
>Aida Zubcevic, Founder & Director, Faveda
Behind the company Faveda is the successful entrepreneur – Aida Zubčević from Bosnia and Herzegovina. With a clear vision to produce plant-based medicinal products, she created a unique brand that stood for its quality and excellent efficiency.
With her team, she is constantly working on educating women from rural areas – aiming to strengthen the rural economy and raise awareness on the importance of proper consumption and protection of natural resources. She was voted Woman Entrepreneur of the year in the category Green Woman Entrepreneur.
> Valentina Taseva, Founder, Semos Education
Valentina Taseva is the Founder and owner of one of the biggest IT training providers in South East Europe. Since 1985, Semos Education from North Macedonia operates in over 34 countries globally with over 140 experts and over 400 courses offered to businesses, governments, customers and students starting their IT, creative and business careers.
It is significant that the company develops a system of IT education and certification as an informal education, increasing the level of computer education and digital skills of its customers. She was selected Woman Entrepreneur of the year in the category Creative
> Fabiola Duro, Founder, INNVEST
Fabiola Duro, is the Founder of Tirana-based INNVEST – a network of angel investors that together with visionary people tackle national economic challenges in Albania.
The scope of INNVEST is to foster innovation across sectors as an important drive for positive change. INNVEST brings together leading entrepreneurs, investors, prime investors, policy makers and merges a vast pool of ideas from across the innovative spectrum – mainly to address national and regional economic challenges.
Meanwhile, she has built an impressive portfolio. She has been focusing on the startup ecosystem for over a decade now. With INNVEST she has changed the nature of Angel Investors in the country and defined the pillars of their collaboration with startup founders, which are – basic knowledge, mentoring, networking & finance.
Her track record has been impressive. Before becoming a CEO, she had worked for the Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, and Telecommunication; and the Tirana Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to name a few.