ALBANIA – Head of the RYCO Local Branch Office in Albania Mr Kreshnik Loka participated in a virtual round table titled “Start-ups and SMEs before and after COVID-19”, which took place online on 27 January. The round table was organized by the Barleti Hub in Albania with the aim of discussing the current status of start-ups and SMEs in times of the pandemic as well as to share best practices with actors in the field.
During the discussion followed by more than 40 participants, various civil society representatives’ presentations on entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship were held.
Mr Loka took this opportunity to present the work that RYCO is conducting within one of its most important projects in the Western Balkans, the Regional Incubator for Social Entrepreneurs – RISE. This project is currently implemented by RYCO, GROUPE SOS Pulse, South East European Youth Network (SEEYN), Institut Français, and the Franco-German Youth Office (FGYO). RISE is supporting 46 teams by consolidating their social business ideas and preparing them for the Demo Day, where they will pitch their idea to a distinguished jury. Out of these groups, two per RYCO Contracting Party will enter the incubation phase and benefit from a small grant to give life to their idea.
“A pandemic is for sure the worst enemy for an organization which promotes mobility, such as RYCO is, but it is an enemy that we are successfully defeating every day by fiercely continuing our work and moreover using it to our benefit,” Mr Loka stated.
Speaking of the impact of the pandemic on the RISE project activities he added that shifting them to the online space was one of the implemented approaches which does not undermine the effectiveness of the support provided by the project partners.
“Since most of the physical activities were canceled and the project conducted its work online, all the savings from these activities were redirected in increasing the grants that the 12 winning ideas will be awarded with at the end of this first cycle of support,” Mr Loka concluded.
The meeting served as a platform to share good practices, address the challenges that the start-up ecosystem is facing, and establish more cooperation between the participants. Each speaker shared experience on their ongoing projects and agreed on the need for further coordination between actors working in social entrepreneurship.
This round table was organized by the Barleti Hub, part of Marin Barleti University, a structure created to support and develop start-ups and their ecosystem in Albania.