Having in mind the aims and functions, the places where they operate and the communities that they serve – the values and potentials of these entrepreneurship remain high.
The social entrepreneurship in Albania was mainly developed after 2011. It started with a public debate about this form of economical organization with a social aim. The debate was initiated by the implementation of Social Business Initiative by European Union, including the Western Balkans.
The partner Albania for Change and Development (Shqipëri për Ndryshim dhe Zhvillim), as an organization that supported the social entrepreneurship had the chance to witness some of the developments in that sense.
As a sector that is still being formed, without the proper state’s appreciation, it suffers from the total lack of official data. The legal framework that started in 2016 and was completed in 2019, it presents issues resolving organization and function of social entrepreneurship. It offers the minimum of stimulating measures, not even implemented, and even this has not given any results.
Regardless these, our studies resulted that social entrepreneurship are being spread. Tirana remains the biggest and most important hub. 40% of these are dealing with the integration of marginalized communities. 31% support the interest of workers, farmers or artisans by ensuring decent wages. The other 24% of social entrepreneurship offer social services. They focus mainly on the unemployed, youth, women, individuals under the level of poverty and Roma community.
The biggest part of social entrepreneurship has five employees, even though there is a small part of them with more than 16 employees.
Having in mind the aims and functions, the places where they operate and the communities that they serve – the values and potentials of these entrepreneurship remain high. Especially in this difficult time of a pandemic, when regardless that the social entrepreneurship were not included in the schemes for receiving aid by the state, a big part of them did not stop their activities, even though they reduced it.
Social entrepreneurship offers vital services for many social categories that are not addressed by the public services, including there the rehabilitation services of all forms, psycho-social counseling, supportive services for communities in need, support for the activities for integration in work. Thanks to the support of the foreign donors, social entrepreneurship quickly adjusted their services in an online form.
An important development and innovator in entrepreneurship are associated with the beneficial use of the confiscated properties of organized crime. This is a new practice for the Western Balkans, introduced and developed in Albania three years ago by the Partners Albania, supported by the Delegation of European Union in Albania. The first three social entrepreneurship were founded in three different cities in the country, all of them at properties confiscated from organized crime. They now serve as small economies of production like confectionaries and places of production of craft. There are employed young people, as well as women who have been victims of domestic violence. This successful practice is being spread in other properties in other cities, accompanied by the positive developments of the legislature in this sense. In a case like this, the value of social entrepreneurship overcomes those mentioned above, making them direct contributors in strengthening the rule of law and community engagement.
In order to not lose this moment of developing the social entrepreneurship, it is important that the support for them to grow. The need for regional cooperation, access at the market and new funding sources is urgent. This need was made public in DuaPartnerInvest, a platform of regional cooperation that aims to attract investments and special assistance for entrepreneurship in the Balkans.
The future of entrepreneurship is deeply associated with the regional cooperation, as in many other parts of the economy. With the high interests of the actors in the Balkans and the increasing support of private and public actors, the social entrepreneurship, regardless the difficulties in growing, it is expected to have very important progress.
Juliana Hoxha has been the director of “Albania for Change and Development” since the organization’s founding.