Migrants' networks of entrepreneurs boost investments in Kosovo
A development project financed by Finland helps to build networks between entrepreneurs who originate from Kosovo. The network was launched in Finland at the end of August.
"There is a great number of Kosovars living abroad. Their help before, during and after the war has aided Kosovo", says the Minister of Diaspora of Kosovo Ibrahim Makolli during his visit to Finland.
The remittances are around 10 per cent of the GDP in Kosovo. Every fifth household receives remittances.
According to the minister, the migrants have knowledge that the country needs.
"We have a lot of entrepreneurs abroad. We want to help them to build networks", he explains.
Minister's trip is connected to a development co-operation project that aims to channel the remittances on different activities. Finland is also financing this project. The project seeks to channel contributions of the diaspora towards poverty reduction. So far mainly individual households have benefited from the remittances.
The Diaspora Engagement for Economic Development project (DEED) is implemented by United Nations' development agency (UNDP) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The project is part of aid for trade development co-operation work that promotes businesses.
The Kosovars living in Finland boosted the network's building in a meeting of entrepreneurs where the Minister of Diaspora gave a presentation on the possibilities for business in Kosovo and the situation of the country. At its best, the network may be a start for bilateral trade between Finland and Kosovo.
The majority of the businesses owned by Kosovars in Finland are restaurants and other small family businesses, says Omer Nura, a restaurant owner from Espoo. He was in contact with around a hundred entrepreneurs while putting together the network in Finland.
The networks in Germany, Switzerland
and the United States are the biggest
All together, the networks have been built in 16 countries. The biggest networks are in countries where the Kosovars have traditionally migrated to, that is Germany, Switzerland and the United States of America.
The networks in different countries help each other to develop.
A meeting between the networks was held in Pristina in May where plans were made for investments of hundreds of millions Euros. That kind of investment would have a considerable influence on development in Kosovo where the annual budget is around 1,6 billion Euros.
It takes time to execute great investments, says Roberto Cancel from IOM. Still, the network of entrepreneurs has already borne fruit.
"For example the Kosovar network in Germany has invested in a center that collects fruit and vegetable in Western Kosovo. The ministry for Agriculture also took part in funding the project with a million Euros", he explains.
A German bank that does business also in Kosovo grants loans for the network members for investments in Kosovo, with German interest rate. The interest rate is considerably lower than the one in Kosovo. The bank's local offices also accept assets in Kosovo as collateral.
According to Cancel, the Austrian network's members have doubled their revenues after the members started to do business with each other.
The DEED project aims to foster investments also in two other ways: The free trade zones help to direct the investments and the investment fund of the diaspora pools resources and scatters the risks.
Migrants are the bridge between two countries
The investments are not only money, minister Makolli reminds. "It is also about experiences and learning different kind of working culture."
Kosovo need investments desperately in order to create jobs.
"We have a young population; the middle age is 29 years. Unemployment has hit worst the youth", says the Minister of Diaspora.
Kosovo is interested in co-operation with Finland in for example medicine, education and in strengthening democratic institutions.
"First of all, the support will help us stand on our own", underlines Makolli