A wealth of ideas

REC Albania's Green Economy Programme promotes green entrepreneurship among students

May 26, 2014 | By Ornela Sulce

Albania_GreenEntrep1Albania's valuable natural resources are critical to wealth creation and essential for socio-economic and sustainable development. Working towards an innovative and "greener economy" is fundamental for Albania, and the country is focusing on: efficient management and use of its natural resources; reducing environmental risks; improving human well-being; and creating more job opportunities and greater social equity.

"These concepts are new in Albania, both for economic decision makers and the country's universities," said Mihallaq Qirjo, Country Office Director of REC Albania. "On the other hand, through this new way of doing business, the country is offering abundant resources and opportunities to match the employment needs of its youth."

As part of the Green Economy Programme, a 'Green Business Ideas Competition' took place in Tirana on May 7, 2014, which featured 20 innovative 'green' business ideas developed by students at Tirana University. The ideas presented covered a broad range of the services and products for use in waste management, energy efficiency, and eco-tourism sectors. More than 220 students received training and support from environmental and business experts during a five-month period in which the ideas were developed.

The aim of the Green Economy Programme, supported by REC Albania and GIZ, is to help introduce effective mechanisms associated with development of a 'green economy' in Albania. This involves a platform for Albanian youth that integrates information, education, innovation and the promotion of entrepreneurship.

Furthermore, the Green Economy Program was promoted on April 30--May 2 in Tirana at the National Labour Fair, during which students presented their project ideas. The REC's 'Green Economy' stall attracted many citizens, and also caught the attention of Minister of Social Welfare and Youth Erjon Veliaj and Prime Minister Edi Rama, both of whom visited and expressed interest in the students' work.

GreenEntrep2The winning ideas, selected by a jury composed of business and university representatives, were announced on May 7, 2014 at the National Art Gallery in front of wide audience of students, environmental experts and business representatives. Students involved in the top 20 green ideas were invited onstage to present their innovations, which included wooden toys, crafts and clothing accessories and mini solar panels. Albanian Minister of Economy and Trade Arben Ahmetaj offered some appreciative words, and encouraged the students to initiate start-up support schemes to bring their ideas into reality.

Several interested businesses present in the event offered internships and other promotion opportunities to the participating students.

Ornela Sulce, REC Albania