FACT SHEET: Yunus Growing Social Businesses in Albania

Speeches Shim

Two young women and a young man hold competition prize certificates for 1,000 euro
USAID and Yunus Social Business Balkans hope to cultivate Albania’s “entrepreneurial ecosystem” that is conducive to young people becoming successful and productive drivers of the economy.
Yunus Social Business Balkans


Name: Growing Social Businesses in Albania
Duration: January 2016 – January 2019
Budget: USAID $1,000,000 / YSB Cost Share: $177,184 / Leverage: $2,000,000
Implementer: Yunus Social Business Balkans


Albania remains a country with many social challenges and disparities. With high poverty and unemployment rates, and the difficulty of the Government to be able to foster inclusive growth, Albania’s young generation continues to seek opportunities abroad. Entrepreneurship has the potential to drive social and economic development in Albania. Therefore, ecosystems that could support entrepreneurship, sustainable provision of services, and the potential for inclusive growth from social businesses (SBs), are very much needed.

In July 2013 USAID and YSB Global Initiatives signed an MOU to enter into public-private partnerships demonstrating mutual commitment to promptly and proactively work together to further the shared goals in various countries. The key objectives of the partnership in Albania is to promote entrepreneurship and the development and growth of social businesses that effectively address the needs of low-income, vulnerable and under-served communities; develop sustainable incubation services and investment approaches that effectively support the above goal; and engage a wide range of additional organizations in the private, public and non-profit sectors in the advancement of social business and other innovative approaches to fostering high impact entrepreneurship.



The project conducts and/or facilitates public events, workshops, and other types of social business promotional events across the country to create awareness for the potential of SBs and to educate aspiring entrepreneurs on basic business principles. These events are tailored to “idea-stage” entrepreneurs providing them with the basic necessary skills to further develop their idea into prototype stages so that they will become eligible to apply for YSB’s incubation/accelerator program.


YSB provides a range of technical assistance and business development services for entrepreneurs that help to turn initial business plans into concrete and investable SBs. Therefore, YSB provides: i) a structured, 4-month support program (the “accelerator”) for prototype and startup-stage businesses and ii) tailored advisory and coaching services for later-stage businesses. Based on their needs, entrepreneurs receive access to specific trainings, mentoring from YSB’s mentor pool, access to third party services or other services that can be sourced from YSB’s global network.


For the most promising social businesses, YSB provides a mixture of equity and debt financing as seed or expansion capital in order to implement these businesses. Such cases or entrepreneurs are eligible to receive up to €500,000 in financing from the YSB Fund. YSB’s post-financing support to portfolio businesses extends beyond monitoring and evaluation by offering ongoing coaching and mentoring, consulting for growth or crisis management and continued access to a network of entrepreneurs and business professionals throughout Albania and globally.

  • An 8-day intensive pre-accelerator program with 32 startup enthusiasts, 14 national and international speakers, and 12 mentors resulted with the design and initial testing of seven startup ideas, with three of the best startups receiving seed funding (€4,500) from YSB Fund to develop prototypes and further testing.
  • One cycle of incubation/acceleration program with six graduating startups, resulted in four of successfully entering the market, with one receiving seed funding from YSB Fund.
  • As a result of tailored advisory and coaching services for two later-stage startups, one startup received an investment of €470,000 to create better job opportunities and working conditions for women in textile industry in remote area of Albania--200+ jobs are expected to be created in its 2nd year of operations.
  • Organized two “problem-solution-fit” days for “idea-stage” entrepreneurs and “early-revenue stage” businesses—Tirana (25 participants) and Lezha (30 participants)—where entrepreneurs had a chance to get expert advice and hands-on practice on business models designs.
  • Conducted five entrepreneurship and social business promotion events with youth groups and university students on the concepts and processes of starting a business.