How to Become a Driving Force: Kosovo Diaspora
Dependency on remittances in Kosovo remains substantial – with 25 per cent of households reporting reliance on remittances, a figure that is even higher among households in rural areas and those headed by women. The dependence on remittances as a paramount livelihood strategy is underscored by the finding that remittances represent the second largest source of income for remittance-receiving households.
Remittance use is overwhelmingly geared toward basic consumption among recipients, with more than 90% spent on basic items such as food, clothing, housing, durable goods, health and education. The number of migrants who report about converting their received remittances into income or employment-generating activities is very small.
With this in mind, UNDP Kosovo created the “Diaspora Engagement in Economic Development” (DEED) project which is being implemented by UNDP and IOM. The overall objective of the project, which is supported generously by the government of Finland, is to support the Kosovo Government’s efforts to facilitate increased contribution of the Diaspora to Kosovo in the form of investments that can generate growth, and also to promote saving and investment among remittance-receiving households.
In this regard, recently, two events took place that engaged the Diaspora, who are currently visiting in large number thair families in Kosovo. Kosovo’s Ministry of Diaspora and Kosovo Bankers’ Association (BAK) coordinated with the Investment Promotion Agency of Kosovo and supported by the DEED project, held the first Forum on Banking and Investment Services for Diaspora which took place on 13 June.
This first public forum of its kind brought together for the whole day, the Kosovo’s Minister of Diaspora and the Minister of Economic Development as well as other policy makers, representatives from UNDP, the Banking Association of Kosovo and other private sector representatives from Kosovo, but also members of the Kosovo Diaspora, entrepreneurs living in the United States, Germany and other countries, alongside others in Kosovo and the region who shared experience and many of their entrepreneurship success stories. Moreover, it was the great opportunity where private sector representatives together with regulators and other parties interested and potential investors from other countries, provided good experiences and best practices from and for the companies based in Kosovo.
Promotion and enhancement of the linkages between Private Sector, Remittances and overall economic development in Kosovo were underlined, and with the innovative projects that link remittances with new commercial banking products and services while being profitable to support development objectives, where introduced.
Another event that took place was a organized a three days workshop on finalization of the National Strategy for the Diaspora and Development of its Action Plan organized by Kosovo’s Ministry of Diaspora which took place in Prizren, from 13– 17 June.
The workshop brought together for three days the representatives from Kosovo’s Ministry of Diaspora; Minister of Trade and Industry, Statstical Agency of Kosovo as well as other policy makers, representatives from UNDP, the Banking Association of Kosovo and other private sector representatives from Kosovo, but also members of the Kosovo Diaspora.
It is expected that the strategy is approved by the Government of Kosovo no later than August of this year and its implementation begins immediately thereafter. This strategy does not need parliamentary approval or promulgation of any special legislation in support.