Social Enterprises in South Kosovo Go InternationalJul 11, 2016
Fancy locally-produced, healthy raspberry juices? Or traditional-style, mountain village-made ajvar from baked peppers and other vegetables? Well, you are in for a treat. Two social enterprises now operate in the Sharr/Šar mountains in the south of Kosovo, producing these slices of awesomeness while contributing to socioeconomic development in the community.
The social enterprises Mladi Na Selu from Dragash/Dragaš and Udruženje Proizvodjača Maline - Sušice from Štrpce/Shtërpcë set off in late 2014 on a quest to not only supply the market with their superb produce, but also create jobs for the local community. Work inclusion of vulnerable members of the society and re-investment of income into creating more job opportunities is one of the underlying concepts of social entrepreneurship that is gaining on speed in Kosovo.
Together with the Austrian Development Agency, UNDP recognized the potential this form of business combined with positive social impact has, and through the InTerDev project helped the social enterprises set up their production units, purchase processing equipment and raw materials, and gain know-how on what it takes to function as a social enterprise.
But there is more: the social enterprises are now starting to receive international attention. In July 2016, both enterprises were able to network, establish business contacts, and promote their product lines at the Terra Madre International Fair in Tirana, Albania.
“I am very happy that I had opportunity to represent our social enterprise at the such a big event, it was a great chance for us to gather new experiences, to establish new contacts and to see where do we stand comparing to other similar producers. It was good to see that the interest for our products was very big”, says Aleksandar Milenković from the social enterprise UPMS.
With the aim to double the production and introduce new items such as apple or forest fruit juices to the portfolio, the small businesses will in the summer formalize new partnerships, while bringing cash for members of the local communities.
“The event was a good opportunity for me to learn about production techniques and different ways of packaging and presenting products. Also, the fair was an ideal place for networking with producers and potential clients from different countries. The most important thing is that I could see the areas in which our social enterprise could do better”, concludes Sefer Tudjari of the Mladi Na Selu.
So, if you want to relax with a bottle of exquisite raspberry juice or host your friends with a traditional ajvar from locally sourced veggies, and at the same time contributing to creating jobs for people who don’t have one, visit the Sharr/Šar mountains!