First social enterprises in Albania to boost the employment of women and disadvantaged groups

Date: Friday, May 3, 2019

Executive Director of the Youth Albania Professional Services (YAPS) social business Mr. Arben Shamia during the launching of the social enterprises call. Photo: UN Women Albania
Executive Director of the Youth Albania Professional Services (YAPS) social business Mr. Arben Shamia during the launching of the social enterprises call. Photo: UN Women Albania

For the first time in Albania civil society organizations can apply for the status of social enterprises. The Minister of Health and Social Protection, Ogerta Manastirliu announced a call for applications from social enterprises with a view to boosting the employment of disadvantaged groups. The government has allocated $2.2 million to finance social enterprises over the next three years.

Making the announcement, Minister Manastirliu said: "This is a new financial mechanism that will support social reintegration and the professional skills of marginalized groups. It promotes gender equality and the spirit of social responsibility.

The law on social enterprise was drafted in 2016 with the technical assistance of UN Women, which also supported the full legal framework as part of the UN joint program, "Leave no one behind" funded by the Swiss Government. The law provides an alternative to improve the social and economic reintegration of disadvantaged individuals into society, based on the philosophy of leaving none behind. The law also sets out the characteristics, as well as the social and economic conditions to be fulfilled by an organization to be legally considered and recognized as a social enterprise.

Addressing the significance of supporting vulnerable populations and social development, Michele Ribotta, UN Women Officer in Albania said, “The passion of women and men who put a social mission at the heart of their business creates added value that benefits the most vulnerable or marginalized. Social entrepreneurs are citizens who do not stop in front of inequalities but instead decide to act, find a need and meet it – supporting sustainable change”.

The UN Resident Coordinator in Albania, Brian Williams underscored the importance of social enterprises and emphasized the need to allocate public resources to support social enterprises, not only at the national but also at the municipal level.

Social enterprises in Albania, an alternative social development and transformation model

Since 2012, UN Women has worked jointly with the Government to support the development of social enterprises through the sharing of information and knowledge to foster the development of social entrepreneurship in Albania. However, the development of social enterprises in Albania is still at its preliminary stage with the first social enterprises commencing their operations   before 2000, as part of the activity of non-profit projects and programs supported by foreign donors.

Preliminary assessments in Albania indicate that the country has the potential for about 500 social enterprises that could become a valuable source of job creation for the youths, women and disadvantaged individuals.

The launching event was hosted by the Youth Albania Professional Services (YAPS), one of the first social businesses in Tirana. YAPS, aims to apply for the social enterprises status following the government's call for expressions of interest. The company works in the fields of parcel delivery and cleaning services.