REG organized a pilot activity to support Women in Business activities focusing on Albanian female entrepreneurs, implemented by CEED Albania. The overall objective is to enhance the leadership, management, and entrepreneurial skills of early-stage and experienced women entrepreneurs and managers, diminish the human capital gap between men and women, and increase the number of women entrepreneurs and managers who contribute to the national economies of the region by owning or managing SMEs. The pilot activity was comprised of an opening event and a 3-day training series for early-stage female entrepreneurs. 

The kick-off event on June 10th, 2014, was held at the Tirana International Hotel. It was attended by 38 business representatives from domestic, regional, and international companies and non-profits, and it served to identify suitable women entrepreneurs who will be involved in future comprehensive training and learning activities. The panel participants were Mrs. Emanuela Pepkola Zaimi and Mrs. Linda Shomo. Ms. Zaimi, founder of the Down Syndrome Foundation Albania, shared her professional path with the participants and illustrated how her tenacity helped her to launch the foundation, whose purpose is to improve the living conditions and integration into Albanian society of children and adults living with Down syndrome. Ms. Linda Shomo, General Manager of Easypay Shpk, shared with the participants lessons learned during her more than 15 years of professional experience in the ICT sector. Following the two presentations, the event wrapped up with a networking reception.  

The three-day entrepreneurship training event, in accordance with the request from women entrepreneurs to organize trainings on non-consecutive days, was held for June 24th, 27th and 30th, during hours which allowed women the flexibility to participate without it infringing on their business and personal agendas. The training was designed in line with the findings of a USAID study conducted in 2013 which highlighted the areas where women entrepreneurs needed to improve and enhance their skills, and provided case studies and practical, industry-wide examples. These findings were later grouped into three major areas of intervention, each of which became a focus of a single day in the training led by a qualified business professional. The first day of training focused on basic leadership skills, self small-team management, personal sales skills, and micromanagement. The second day was concerned with the preparation of the product or service, how to conduct market research, how to match your product or service with market needs, and which communication channels are best provided the business size and budget. The third and final day dealt with the importance of building a system for recording data, and filing paperwork and documents according to tax authorities’ required standards. The training was attended by 15 women entrepreneurs.

Follow-up events have been planned with the following topics: Leadership, Management, and Human Resources; Marketing, Product Positioning, Market Research, and Sales; and Access to Finance, Legal Regulatory Framework, and Micro Financial Management.

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AuthorKaris McGill