Women affected by earthquake in Albania equipped to develop and advance their businesses through UN Women Program


Participants of the Women’s Small Business Program. Photo: UN Women Albania/Mariol Novaku
Participants of the Women’s Small Business Program. Photo: UN Women Albania/Mariol Novaku

UN Women in collaboration with the Municipality of Kamza, a town 11 km from the capital Tirana, organized an awarding event with 16 women participants of the Women’s Small Business Program. They presented their business ideas and plans in front of a professional jury and business representatives following five months of training and coaching.

This group of resilient women, whose lives were affected by 2019 earthquake in Albania, took the initiative to strengthen their entrepreneurial competences and business skills through the Women’s Small Business Program, a combined capacity building approach that included training, mentoring, and individual and group coaching.

UN Resident Coordinator in Albania, Fiona McCluney highlighted the importance of women’s economic empowerment as a way to achieve gender equality and praised the project for its focus on this issue at the local level. “I am so glad to see such great examples of women taking real business initiatives to make a change to their lives and change the usual stereotype that businesses are mostly started and run by men,” noted Ms. McCluney.

Their new business ideas and plans covered a wide range of activities, from handicrafts, services, and manufacturing to digital marketing, etc. The best ideas were awarded by the jury to: Xhemile Sadiku in the category “Breaking Taboos in Entrepreneurship”; Anxhe Marku, in the category “Courageous Entrepreneurship” and Alberta Metallari in the category ‘The Most Innovative Idea”.

“All my life I have been a hesitant and insecure woman. I am happy to have been part of the training. I learned a lot and I got to know a side of me that gives me courage. I feel strong and I am ready to start a business.”

Xhemile Sadiku, Dressmaker
Xhemile Sadiku winner in the category “Breaking Taboos in Entrepreneurship” Photo: UN Women Albania/Keti Gjipali

“My job has always been considered as men's work, but I have never had a problem as long as I can feed my family and I feel proud of my work. It has not been easy; I started from scratch but now I feel quite secure in my venture.”

Anxhe Marku, Butcher and appetizer shop
Anxhe Marku, winner in the category “Courageous Entrepreneurship” Photo: UN Women Albania/Mariol Novaku

“Every time we complete an order and the customers are satisfied, I am happy. Woodwork requires high commitment and we do our best to produce artwork of the highest quality. This training made me understand where my weaknesses as an entrepreneur lie. With the acquired knowledge, I believe that now I am more skilled to better manage and develop my business.”

Alberta Metallari, Wood Art
Winner of “The Most Innovative Idea” Alberta Metallari. Photo: UN Women Albania/Mariol Novaku

Edona Bilali, Minister of State for the Protection of Entrepreneurship, attended the ceremony and addressed the women participating in the program. She congratulated them for being managers at home and managers of their own businesses. She informed the participants that the new law on start-ups provides for specific gender quotas. “We have also established financial support for start-ups ranging from 15 to 50 thousand euros,” she noted.

The Mayor of Kamza, Rakip Suli, also present at the event, emphasized that women in Kamza enjoy fiscal relief and are exempted from taxes during the first year of their business.

Women’s Small Businesses initiative is part of the of the “Gender-sensitive post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction” Project funded by the Government of Sweden through the Albania SDG Acceleration Fund. It focuses on supporting and empowering women in eleven affected municipalities, in both rural and urban areas.

“It is inspiring to see how you have been able to combine your dream with a vision for your businesses. Cultivating this dream is at the heart of what we do at UN Women. We are happy that we were able to help you with new knowledge and skills,” said Michele Ribotta, UN Women Representative in Albania, who also addressed the participants and praised them for their remarkable display of passion, self-confidence, and resilience.

UN Women will continue to work with these women while they develop and implement their business plans and will look into opportunities of further support by private companies.