Empowering Job Creation and Exports

Speeches Shim

Thursday, December 12, 2019
Empowering Job Creation and Exports
Sheqer Ukaj, Owner of Elnor [wood manufacture producer] and Lisa Magno USAID Mission Director at the Empowering Job Creation and Exports event
Ardian Kurtolli, USAID

Good afternoon,

In 2014, I could count on one hand the companies ready to export outside of the region. Now, five years later, over 120 Kosovo companies are ready and successfully exporting.

When we started EMPOWER, Elnor was sending only two trucks of wooden furniture per year to Europe. Today, Elnor sends four trucks per month.
That is 48 trucks per year!

You can find Elnor’s furniture, together with other Kosovo solid wood products, in a Stuttgart showroom. In partnership with a diaspora business, we established the showroom as a hub for Kosovo wooden furniture. Your products have also become available on websites like amazon.de.
In fact, the best-selling product online was a German Amazon chair made in Kosovo.

Significantly, the Made in Kosovo brand is becoming synonymous with consistency in quality. Not just the wood and furniture products I mentioned, either.

International companies are sourcing high-quality apparel products from Kosovo under designer labels—MaxMara, Dolce & Gabbana. Just walk through the house constructed outside. Everything you see proudly bears the Made in Kosovo mark and is ready for export. Even the house, itself, is ready.

And then there are the amazing Kosovo people behind these products. For the first time ever, Kosovo engineers received international certifications for the installation of photovoltaic panels. This means that Kosovo companies, with certified engineers, can bid and export not just their products, but also their services too. Companies like Elen and Jaha Solar are already competing for international tenders and exporting their services.

The women of Tiki Mosaics in South Mitrovica are turning recycled glass into amazing tile products that can match the Italian version in quality and functionality.

If you need to be convinced that Kosovo is full of dynamic, talented people with innovative ideas, just look at the ICT sector. Check out the 3D printers manufactured by Formon and the software engineered by Adaptivit.

Together with Sida, USAID smartly invested in Kosovo’s private sector. Kosovo businesses matched this donor investment 5 to 1. As a result, 5,000 more people have jobs and over $200 million was made in new sales. Globally, USAID recognizes the importance of strategic engagement with the private sector by incorporating your perspectives and market-based approaches we develop our Country strategy and programs.

To Sida, the Cardno team led by Skender, Kosovo businesses and entrepreneurs—it is an honor to celebrate these successes with you today. I do need to say that for USAID, the true measure of our success is when the work and results continue into the future—with or without us.

As donors, this is the time for us to step back and for Kosovo to lead. Do not shy away from this challenge as you have shown it is not only possible—it is actually better. Sustainable solutions are locally led.

A good example is the annual EMPOWER events—the Green Festival, Apparel Industry Convention, and the Wood Industry Convention. Our local partner associations have already taken the lead in organizing this year’s events. There can be no better advocate for your sector than your industry associations.

Lead the way—write the next glorious chapter of Kosovo’s private sector development.

Thank you.

Pristina, Kosovo
Issuing Country