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FOLLOWBUSINESS

SPECIAL REPORT

S O L E A T OMars P T25rd I O2016 N ALBANIA

IA AN S B AL AIN M G RE EATIN Y

M RA A G I O PR AN ’S ALB PORT C IF OR UP Y’S F O S TR N

M B MY AND IDE RT PR EA

T UN IO CO IRAT LE B P AS UITA EU Q D E N TO TH A W O

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E TH AL IONCT T A E NS J ’S SE PROANIA S

IAN AT R: O CR ADO ? Y S AS ORITCE B I AM PR HAN IC MY O ENRAFF S

B AL G HA ’ ON DIN SED AN AU BR ‘P

T T ON R TE CTI T BE NNE CO

IS : EN TION A S S R LA RUPED A EM R IV BL O C CE RO R P PE JOR IA. S N HA O A A M LB FT S T A IN TKRA STEM RISK Y A ST D S THIS O TE O G IGA T MI

STATISTICAL DATA, SURVEY, ANALYSIS, BUSINESS INTERVIEWS, DIPLOMACY, TRAVEL, ART… © Copyright FOLLOW BUSINESS ALBANIA 2016. All rights reserved.

N TIO P UM TS NS MEN O C EST , T S EN INV ORT OYM P EX MPLIA E N U BAN IN

AL

#BUSINESS #MARKETINGDIGITAL #BUSINESSOWNER

OCTOBER

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA CONTENTS

CONTENTS PROGRAM FOR ALBANIA TO 4 IFC’S SUPPORT COUNTRY’S ASPIRATION TO EQUITABLE GROWTH AND EU CORRUPTION IS 8 LARSEN: PERCEIVED AS A MAJOR PROBLEM IN ALBANIA. STATKRAFT HAS GOOD SYSTEMS, TOOLS AND PROCEDURES TO MITIGATE THIS RISK.

12 THE CONSUMPTION EXPECTATIONS SURVEY ALBANIA, 20 VODAFONE 15 YEARS OF AMAZING JOURNEY! EDUARD ZALOSHNJA

DIETLOF Z MARE

24 MEETING THE ‘DIFFERENT’ LEADER PINELLI: “CONVIVIUM” 26 MARCO EXPERIENCE IS A GREAT DEAL” MICHAEL ULMER

30 BUKË DHE VERË ARBËRESHE “THE ART IN YOUR COUNTRY IS TO FIND 32 GLOS: THE WAY TO EU, KAS WILL HELP YOU” MAL BERISHA

TO CHANGE THE YOUTH’S MINDSET THAT MONEY 36 TIME AND POWER IS THE ONLY THINGS THAT MATTER ZERBANOO GIFORD

LJUNG: 40 HENRIK "DUXIANA FEELS WELCOMED IN ALBANIA" INVESTMENTS 44 CONSUMPTION, IN ALBANIA EXPORTS, AND UNEMPLOYMENT EDUARD ZALOSHNJA

AMBASSADOR: 54 CROATIAN MY PRIORITY? TO ENHANCE BETTER TRAFFIC CONNECTIONS SHOPPING CENTER” BEATS COMPETITORS, 60 “TOPTANI EVERYTHING SO NEAR YOU!

FOLLOW BUSINESS ALBANIA FBA PUBLISHING © KUMI PRINT Editor: Rudina HOXHA Design: Leart Zajmi WEB: www.FollowBusinessAlbania.com EMAIL: info@followbusinessalbania.com NOTICE The publishers regret that they cannot accept liability for error or omissions contained in this publication, however caused. The opinions and views contained in this publication are not necessarily those of the publishers. Readers are advised to seek specialist advice before acting on information contained in this publication, which is provided for general use and may not be appropriate for the readers’ particular circumstances. The ownership of trademarks is acknowledged. No part of this publication or any part of the contents thereof may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form without the permission of the publishers in writing. An exemption is hereby granted for extracts used for the purpose of fair review. All photos used in the magazine are by Shutterstock unless otherwise credited.

October 2016

PRIVÈ 64 KEPI THE START FOR A HIGH QUALITY REAL ESTATE IN ALBANIA OF ALBANIAN CHILDREN EXPERIENCE 68 70% VIOLENCE, REPORT

72 PALAZZO ITALIA SENSATIONAL PROJECT 76 THE ON ALBANIA’S BRANDING HAS ‘PAUSED’ SCOTT GOODSON

80 ALBANIANS ARE GREAT HOSTS! EXPERT: “ALBANIA HAS 82 TOURIST BEEN A GREAT SURPRISE IN ALL ASPECTS” KNUT FLECKENSTEIN

88 ALBANIA REMAINS MY BEATING HEART AND MY PRIDE 92 HUNGARY: THE LAND OF SPAS 94 UNFORGETTABLE FESTIVAL IN THE CITY OF ‘1001 WINDOWS’ HILDA MAHA

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA FINANCE & ECONOMICS

Laura Qorlaze has 21 years’

experience with international and local accounting firms. During her work in Albania and abroad, Laura has been responsible for overseeing a range of client services including audit and other attestation services, financial advisory services, tax consulting and accounting consulting across a wide range of industries, from telecommunications, energy and public utilities to construction and consumer goods. Laura has an in-depth understanding and experience of the application of international and national accounting standards as well as business valuation methodologies. In addition, she spent nine years in the telecommunications industry in Albania. During her years working in accountancy, Laura was holder of the Certified Public Accountants, USA (CPA), a member of the Albanian Institute of Authorized Chartered Accountants, IEKA (ACA), a member of the Society of Certified Accountants and Auditors of Kosovo (CAA), and a Bankruptcy Administrator. In April 2016, Laura was appointed IFC’s Country Representative in Albania.

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How would you describe the new position you are holding as Country Representative of IFC in Albania and what are the major strengths you would bring to this job? Thank you first of all for giving me the opportunity to talk about IFC in general and its work in Albania, as well as my new appointment as IFC’s Country Representative in Albania.

IFC’s Program for Albania to Support Country’s Aspiration to Equitable Growth and EU By Rudina HOXHA

Laura Qorlaze is the new head of International Financing Corporation (IFC) in Albania. Taking this post last April, she embodies 21 years' experience with international and local accounting firms. In her first interview, she told Follow Business Albania that the IFC has currently a total investment portfolio in Albania of $820.7 million in 26 projects across a variety of sectors, including energy, infrastructure, banking, manufacturing and trade.

IFC was established in 1956 as part of the World Bank Group to support private sector investment in emerging markets to create jobs and raise standards of living. IFC’s financial products enable companies to manage risk and broaden their access to foreign and domestic capital markets. Our financial products consist of fixed and variable rate loans extended to the private sector, which finance both early-stage companies and expansion projects. IFC also makes loans to intermediary banks, leasing companies, and other financial institutions for on-lending. The credit lines are often targeted at small and medium enterprises or specific sectors. In addition to lending, IFC engages in equity investments that provide developmental support and the long-term growth capital the private sector needs. IFC invests directly in companies’ equity and also through private-equity funds.

She explains that the IFC’s program for Albania for fiscal years 2015-19 is aimed at supporting Albania’s aspiration to achieve equitable growth and integration into the European Union. “The program will be pursued with a focus on our twin goals of reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity, through priority sectors such as energy, infrastructure, banking, agribusiness, tourism and manufacturing,” Qorlaze said. According to her, the major challenge of IFC is the crisis which has had an ever bigger impact on foreign companies in countries where foreign capital is supposed to flow to the Albanian economy. “This reduces the appetite of investors to invest, which to some extent limits the opportunities for IFC to partner with private sector investors.”

October 2016

Companies need more than financial investment to thrive, however. They need a regulatory environment that enables entrepreneurship. They need advice on best business practices. IFC’s work also includes advising governments and non-government institutions on how to improve the enabling environment for the private sector. We help companies 5


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What are the main challenges IFC is facing in Albania? The 2008 global crisis has posed difficulties for many private companies, making it hard for them to engage in current or new projects. The crisis has had an ever bigger impact on foreign companies in countries where foreign capital is supposed to flow to the Albanian economy. This reduces the appetite of investors to invest, which to some extent limits the opportunities for IFC to partner with private sector investors. improve corporate governance, strengthen risk management, and become more sustainable—financially, environmentally, and socially. Since Albania joined IFC in 1991, IFC has been a supporter of sustainable economic development in the country through its investment and advisory services. We currently have a total investment portfolio in Albania of $820.7 million in 26 projects across a variety of sectors, including energy, infrastructure, banking, manufacturing and trade. IFC’s program for Albania for fiscal years 2015-19 is aimed at supporting Albania’s aspiration to achieve equitable growth and integration into the European Union.

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The program will be pursued with a focus on our twin goals of reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity, through priority sectors such as energy, infrastructure, banking, agribusiness, tourism and manufacturing. I was appointed as Country Representative for IFC in Albania in April 2016, which requires me to oversee and support the implementation of IFC’s program in Albania. I believe my educational background in finance and my professional experience in the private sector as a financial advisor in a wide range of industries for the past 21 years will help me provide the right guidance and expertise to execute IFC’s ambitious program in Albania.

There is a strong interest in public – private partnership at the moment, why is that? As I mentioned previously, IFC provides advice to create a strong, broad enabling environment for private sector development. Although IFC’s work with governments is primarily delivered via the World Bank Group Global Practice (WB and IFC joint advisory group), we provide advice to governments on preparing and structuring Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mandates. Introducing PPPs is one of the key focus areas of the Albanian government. PPPs are a practice that have been successful in the region and beyond. In countries with constraints on public resources,

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA FINANCE & ECONOMICS

growing economy with growth exceeding 6 percent per annum on average, a trend which continued until the global financial crisis of 2008. Sectors such as construction and services in trade, transport and communication were among the key drivers for such growth. The banking sector followed the development of the private sector, which was led by consumption primarily fueled by remittances from Albanians working abroad as well as increasing public spending.

In your view, what is needed to further boost the economic development of Albania? What are the week points in this respect? Despite recent improvements and better prospects for the future, the Albanian economy is still facing insufficient growth rates to fully recover from the 2008 global financial crisis. The high level of non-performing loans in the banking sector, a direct result of deteriorating productivity and trade, in turn contributes to keeping growth rates low due to restrictions placed on business to access financing. On the other side, a heavy regulatory burden and inadequate framework for private investment, fiscal indiscipline and uneven implementation of the law continue to negatively affect the business climate, and therefore growth.

IFC Headquarters in Washington D.C.

there is a need for governments to turn to the private sector as an alternative additional source of funding that will ultimately help economies grow. Engaging the private sector in delivering public services helps improve the quality and efficiency of public services.

Creating conditions for accelerated private sector growth is important for Albania.

To increase investments and generate Nevertheless, to achieve a successful PPP transaction, it is important to implement an economic growth, it is important that adequate communications strategy, i.e., timely, transparent and constructive discus- state institutions play a greater role in (i) sions and presentations to relevant stakeholders as well as regular public information. orientating businesses to invest in high growth sectors; (ii) creating sectorPlease can you give your assessment about the evolution of the private sector focused promotion policies to attract new in Albania? How do you see its transformation? investments; (iii) ensuring freedom of access by improving business regulaThe opening of the Albanian economy in the 1990s and its transformation from a tions and reducing compliance costs for centralized to a liberalized economy created huge opportunities for Albanian entre- the private sector; (iv) avoiding informality preneurs to invest in many sectors, which radically changed the nature of the and ensuring fiscal discipline and law economy. Thanks to the initiative of these entrepreneurs, supported by a number of enforcement; (v) and encouraging banks structural reforms undertaken by the government, Albania became Europe’s fastest-- to resume lending to companies. October 2016

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About Statkraft Statkraft is a leading company in hydropower internationally and Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy. The Group produces hydropower, wind power, gas-fired power and district heating and is a global player in energy market operations. Statkraft has 4200 employees in more than 20 countries.

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Banja Dam Overview

October 2016


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA ENERGY

Larsen: Corruption is perceived as a major problem in Albania. Statkraft has good systems, tools and procedures to mitigate this risk.

How is Statkraft doing in Albania after some years now? Can you make a balance sheet? Statkraft has been in Albania since 2006. The concession agreement for Devoll Hydropower Project was reached in 2009, as a JV with EVN from Austria. In 2013, Statkraft decided to become the sole owner of the project, by reaching an investment decision and proceeding with construction. Statkraft is very satisfied with the progress of the project. We recently held an opening ceremony for the first HPP completed in the Devoll Cascade, Banja HPP. On September 23rd Statkraft officially celebrated the opening of this very first plant in Albania. The opening was celebrated with Prime Minister Edi Rama and Statkraft CEO Christian Rynning-Tønnesen. Banja hydropower plant will generate around 255 GWh of renewable electricity per year. The plant consists of two main Francis units, as well as an eco-flow unit. The dam above the power plant is 80 meters high and creates a 14 square kilometers reservoir, in the form of a new lake in the Devoll valley.

October 2016

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Social Responsibility Corporate responsibility is an integral part of our business in Statkraft. At Banja we were able to demonstrate our strengths in social and environmental responsibility in a good manner. Based on international standards, Statkraft is committed to ensure that all affected parties are as well or better off after the project than before. Hence, the project has also contributed to new houses, school, new agricultural activities, afforestation as well as solid waste - and sewage treatment facilities.

and a brand new school at modern standards. More than 250 agreements were signed and delivered input for Livelihood Support Development with the aim to provide effective livelihood restoration and income support, that will increase the quality of life for the project affected households. We are currently implementing an afforestation program covering 255 hectares, with another 500 ha in the planning phase.

We have constructed and improved more than 100 km of new road infrastructure including 14 bridges. In Gramsh alone we reconstructed the Trashovice bridge and built a new road all the way to Dushk, through the villages of Zgjupe and Silare. We have built 16 new replacement houses

How do you see the energy market in Albania? Our presence in Albania is made against the backdrop of energy market liberalization. This dates back to the Athens treaty of 2005, when Albania made a firm commitment to harmonize its energy sector with that of liberalized Western European markets. The ongoing market liberalization in Albania is extremely important for us and the decision taken last year, on the New Energy Law is a very promising step in that direction. This is important to Statkraft as it increases transparency providing heightened motivation for further investments in renewable energy in Albania. Statkraft is very happy to see the full commitment of 10

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CEO of Statkraft, Christian Rynning-Tønnesen on stage

How is your relation with key institutions in the country? the Government to establish a power exchange and day-ahead market in Albania.

installed capacity of 256 MW, increasing the power generating capacity of Albania by 17 percent.

The passing of the Judiciary reform is also very important for Albania as it will put conditions in place for foreign investors to gain trust in the Albanian institutions, and the country to accelerate its economic growth.

The construction of the Moglice hydropower plant, with an installed capacity of 183 MW, is ongoing, and planned for commercial operation in 2018. This part of the project also reached a major milestone recently, as the river was diverted from the dam site, making it possible to start dam construction. The total investment of the Devoll project is estimated to approximately EUR 550m.

In my view this country has a lot of potential. Albania stands in an advantage to other countries in the region, with its favourable location and abundance of natural resources although still in a need to find its niche in the regional market.

Any other HPP planed in the Devoll Cascade? In total, Devoll-project will have an October 2016

Has Albania met all the expectations of Statkraft ? Main concern for Stakraft is the development on electricity prices overall Europe. The prices have fallen by around 50 percent over recent years.

Statkraft is committed to transparency in all countries we conduct our business. We have in place good systems, procedures and tools to protect our integrity. Devoll Hydropower Project is developed as a concession agreement involving a partnership with the Government of Albania, thereof a positive outcome of a project like Banja HPP, depends upon the support and role of many stakeholders. We are very happy to have found in this country great abet towards our business and Albanian institutions have shown great support towards our project.

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA MACRO/CLOSER LOOK

THE CONSUMPTION

EXPECTATIONS

SURVEY Albania Business Barometer September 2016

For the first time in Albania, we calculate the Consumer Demand Index – measured with methods used by the worldly renowned Institute for Business Cycle Analysis Will consumers buy more food, clothing and durables in the following months, compared to the same period of the previous year? The survey was designed, supervised and analyzed by Dr. Eduard Zaloshnja, Research Scientist at Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Washington, DC.

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Based on the interviewees’ responses, we have constructed several consumption indices, which serve as a basis for computing the weighted Consumer Demand Index, following the methodology used by the worldly renowned Institute for Business Cycle Analysis (http://www.consumerdemand.com/About.aspx). The indices are calculated as a ratio of the weighted number of non-negative responses over the number of negative responses. Once future waves of our survey are conducted, we will be able to forecast future consumption based on the annual changes in our indices. The Consumer Demand Index differs from other indicators by its focus on actual behavior instead of “impressions” or levels of confidence. It is based on direct information from households about their own plans, not on their expectations for any number of generalized macro-economic conditions. In fact, the Bank of Albania calculates quarterly another consumer index – the Consumer Confidence Index – as a weighted difference between the percentages of positive and negative responses to 4 blocks of macroeconomic questions asked in its periodic survey. This index is supposed to predict consumption in the subsequent months. If the index registers improvement in a quarter (compared to the same quarter of the previous year), a real consumption increase (on an annual basis) is expected. However, an analysis of the Bank of Albania’s Consumer Confidence Index and consumption for the 2010-16 period reveals that there is no positive correlation between the two. In fact, there is a slight negative correlation (Correlation Coefficient = -0.18).

Eduard Zaloshnja

In this issue of FOLLOW BUSINESS ALBANIA, we bring for the first time fresh insights into Albanian households’ buying plans, based on a representative survey of 800 urban households (household consumption represents around 82% of GDP in Albania). The survey was conducted by phone in the first days of September, using a randomly selected sample of households, representing all urban Albania (in rural areas near subsistence farming is predominant – family farms consume mostly what they produce). We will continue with future waves of this survey every September, interviewing the same panel of respondents.

Graph 1 shows real annual changes in household consumption and the preceding the real annual changes of the Bank of Albania’s Consumer Confidence Index. As the graph clearly demonstrates, annual improvements in consumer confidence are rarely followed by increases in household consumption.

Graph 1. A comparison of the annual real changes in household consumption and the preceding annual changes in Consumer Confidence Index, 2010-16 (in percentage points)

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5

0

-5

-10

-15

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2010 Q1

2010 Q3

2011 Q1

2011 Q3

2012 Q1

2012 Q3

2013 Q1

2013 Q3

2014 Q1

2014 Q3

2015 Q1

2015 Q3

2016 Q1

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA MACRO/CLOSER LOOK

The Consumer Demand Index The weighted Consumer Demand Index is 1.02 in September 2016. It indicates that consumption in the last quarter of 2016 will be higher or the same as in the last quarter of 2015. The weights we used to calculate this index are as follows: 74% food and clothing; 7% household durables; 5% driving/riding durables; 14% home improvement. The weights are based on the basket of goods used by INSTAT to calculate the Consumer Price Index.

13%

29%

MORE

LESS

8%

PERHAPS MORE

51%

SAME

Graph 2. Will your family spend more on food and clothing in the last three months of this year, compared to the last three months of the previous year?

The Food and Clothing Index is 1.03 in September 2016. It

indicates that sales of food and clothing in the last quarter of 2016 will be higher or the same as in the last quarter of 2015. The weights we used for non-negative responses were as follows: More = 1; Perhaps more = 0.5; Same = 0.25.

16% YES

Negative responses were given the weight of 1. (See detailed results of the Consumption Expectations Survey ).

84% NO

Graph 3. Did your family buy any furniture, TV set, refrigerator, washing machine, or any other home appliances in the last three months of the previous year?

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA MACRO/CLOSER LOOK

The Household Durables Index is 0.77 in September 2016. It indicates that sales of furniture, TV sets, refrigerators, washing machines and other home appliances in the last quarter of 2016 will be lower than in the last quarter of 2015. The weights we used for non-negative responses were as follows: Yes = 1; Perhaps = 0.5. Negative responses were given the weight of 1. 10%

4% PERHAPS

YES

86% NO

The Driving/Riding Durables Index is 0.63 in September 2016. It indicates that sales of automobiles, motorbikes and bicycles in the last quarter of 2016 will be lower than in the last quarter of 2015. The weights we used for non-negative responses were as follows: Yes = 1; Perhaps = 0.5. Negative responses were given the weight of 1.

Graph 4. Is your family planning to buy any furniture, TV set, refrigerator, washing machine, or any other home appliances in the last three months of this year?

4%

YES

96% NO

Graph 5. Did your family buy an automobile, a motorbike, or a bicycle in the last three months of the previous year?

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA MACRO/CLOSER LOOK

The Home Improvement Index is 1.25 in September 2016. It indicates that in the last quarter of 2016 more households would/could improve their dwellings, compared to the last quarter of 2015. The weights we used for non-negative responses were as follows: Yes = 1; Perhaps = 0.5. YES 2%

2% PERHAPS

Negative responses were given the weight of 1.

97% NO

Graph 6. Is your family planning to buy an automobile, a motorbike, or a bicycle in the last three months of this year?

Conclusions Since the Consumer Demand Index was not measured last year in Albania, we cannot forecast consumption based solely on the level of this year’s index. 9%

YES

91% NO

Graph 7. Did your family made any improvements to your dwelling in the last three months of the previous year?

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA MACRO/CLOSER LOOK

Next year we can compare the two levels of the index, as well as the real consumption growth in the last quarter of 2016, in order to predict the growth for the last quarter of 2017. As we measure the index in the years ahead, we can forecast the household consumption growth in Albania more accurately.

2% PERHAPS 10% YES

87% NO

Graph 8. Is your family planning to make any improvements to your dwelling in the last three months of this year?

However, the responses in the September Consumption Expectations Survey indicate that consumption in the last quarter of 2016 will be higher or the same as in the last quarter of 2015, but no strong growth can be expected.

October 2016

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA INNOVATION

Vodafone Albania, 15 years of amazing journey! By Rudina HOXHA

Many changes have taken place over the past 15 years – the world, the society, the people and the workplace have been transformed noticeably. The booming of mobile, cloud and collaboration technologies has truly altered the way we work, bridging geographical barriers and facilitating business practices. Irrespective of all these changes, there has been one constant partner that has enabled us to always be connected since 2001, and that is the first name that comes up to your mind when you think of communication. I am talking about the most admired brand, Vodafone Albania

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August 3rd, marked the 15th anniversary of the first phone call on Vodafone Albania’s network. Vodafone, one of the worlds’s leading Telecommunication Company joined Albania to its global network by launching 15 years ago its GSM services in the country. Evaluated as the fastest global GSM network, Vodafone has entered the electronic communication history: as a pioneer of introducing the latest technological developments in the Albanian market such as 3G, 4G/4G+, HD voice etc, as the first mobile company with a foundation dedicated to social issues, as the first company to introduce the mobile money transfers and payments service, Vodafone M-Pesa. And this is not all! The future gets us closer to another challenge. Also, Vodafone aims to pioneer in introducing 5G services in Albania, because Vodafone customers October 2016


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA INNOVATION

have always been the first and will continue to be the first to experience revolution Today more than 2 million customers have trusted their communication needs to Vodafone Albania and benefit from the latest and most advanced communication services in the market. 15 years of journey have turned Vodafone in the most reliable communication partner for Albanians. Behind the scenes of this 15th anniversary stand hard work rewarded with great achievement through years, continues investments that reach more than 500 million Euros, social contribu-

Dietlof Z Mare, Chief Executive Officer at Vodafone Albania

stands the ability to be close to customers’ needs with best services, best customer experience and best network with the widest coverage in every corner of the country tion through Vodafone Albania Foundation and CSR which has touched and changed the lives of different communities in need, and what’s most important, it

In 15 years journey, Vodafone has always been a step ahead in bringing benefits of the mobile and digital revolution to the country and the driving force behind the

development of the mobile industry in Albania. In 2011, Vodafone was the first to launch 3G services, introducing for the first time a high speed mobile Internet access at affordable prices.  4 years later, Vodafone was again first to launch a state of the art 4G/4G+ network, hence revolutionising the customers’ navigation experience and introducing another advanced level of speed and quality. In 2015, Vodafone introduces another innovative service for the Albanian market, M-PESA – a unique service which helps customers and Albanians to perform financial transactions through the mobile phone from everywhere and anytime. They can pay bills, pay for goods, top up their phone account, receive money from their relatives abroad just through the tips of their fingers and without the need of a bank account Over the years, Vodafone has launched various services and applications almost for every category of the society covering different crucial areas while the Albanians have consequently seen a number of upgrades and enhancements made to their products and services “portfolio”. Innovations, new services & products

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA INNOVATION

have often achieved celebrity status, brought people closer, made families happier and helped the sick or the disabled ones. Valuable remains the Vodafone e-books app where Albanians can choose and read books either in Albanian or English from a wide list of books available in the platform, now available even in audio version for visually impaired people and in sign language for hearing impaired ones. On the other hand, it developed Tirana Ime app, via which the citizens of Tirana can easily find on their smartphone real-time useful information about road traffic, urban transport, tourism, etc. “I am happy to see the outcome of our 15 years of commitment, investments and hard work of talented people of Vodafone team, which led to great results in terms of brand recognition, market share and industry development. Our focus has always been to provide our customers with the highest quality services, the best value for their communications and we continue to have customers and their needs in the heart of everything we do. The future upon us is shining out digital! Our next challenge is the roll out of 5G in Albania, and our customers will be again the first to experience a revolution that will totally change the way they work and live forever.” - said CEO of Vodafone Albania, Dietlof Mare Vodafone Albania is a fully owned subsidiary of Vodafone Group, one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies. Albania is one of the markets that have achieved leadership position in a number of business KPIs such as market share, brand admiration, customer satisfaction and network quality - a true leader in the Group.

The future ahead reserves big surprises for Vodafone customers as the company will keep pioneering in bringing the most innovative and life changing services to them with the main focus in empowering them in a rapid developing area 22

15th Anniversary of Vodafone Albania – key milestones 2001

- Vodafone launched in Albania.

2002

- 1st 100 000 customers in 4 months

2003

- Leaders in Post-Pay services

2004

- Leaders in revenue share

2005

- 1st youth pre-pay tariff plan

2006

- The 1st to launch Mobile Broadband services

2007

- Vodafone Albania Foundation; the only one in the business sector

2008

- Leader in market share and revenue

2009

- The 1st to introduce Blackberry Services.

2010

- The 1st to launch 3G services in Albania

2011

- The most admired Brand - No.1 Community in the Vodafone Club

2012

- The 1st to launch ‘Telemedicine’ Project.

2013

- Introduction of Vodafone RED tariff plans

2015

- The 1st to launch 4G services

2015

- Launch of the innovative mobile payment solution Vodafone M-Pesa October 2016


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA TABLE FOR TWO

When all expect him to be a seasoned economist, he is very much into hotels, mountains, music, travels and above all into people.Travelling for 15 years across the Southeast Europe, he is an architect by profession. Having a knack for hotels, he has designed and owns 8 ones (7 in the main cities of Germany and one in London.) “Look I had really a lot of luck in my life. In my heart, I am an architect and I do it in the TBP, of course, not as much as before. So, I was not really a manager. I was not taught to be a manager. I was taught to be a carpenter, an architect, an interior designer. Of course, I did an MBA. But I am not a typical economist or whatever. I look things a bit different,” Ulmer, a father of two, opens up his conversation with me in one of the TBP offices with a nice big view facing the horizon.

Meeting the ‘Different’ Leader As we all keep wondering what makes a manager successful, Michael Ulmer, the General Manager of Tirana Business Park, gives some good hints. As leading the most noteworthy German investments in Albania in the retail market,the 24 carat German man chronicles a colorful success story. Ulmer is an entrepreneur, a father and a lightning rod. His key to success seems to be sheltered in his character which fights the new challenges of today’s business world with new perspectives. We all have these perspectives around but not always we embrace them to the maximum like he does.

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The first meeting with Ulmer, who is a drummer as well, took place during the party organized by the Tirana Business Park on the occasion of its 1st anniversary. In a white t-shirt and a pair of jeans, Ulmer seemed to give a bit of his time and attention to everyone. With a constant smile on his face, he never failed to show that he does not consider himself a God especially among his employees. On the contrary, the latter are what count most for him. A TBP family photo in one of the periodic publication of this company showed Ulmer at the very end of the line of the employees unlike other managers who would stay in the center of the photo or all over the photo but not Ulmer. Low-key profile with an authoritative look when needed, he speaks only when he thinks that his words would be more precious than the silence. All these are indeed a sign of a modern, different manager who is currently more in demand by the big companies all over the world. At the same time, he has injected an organizational evolution in his company’s culture. But what are some of his interests and passions who have molded such a manager?

“Give me a Mountain instead of a Hotel Room” “I don’t like hotels (Laughing). Of course I stay a lot in hotels. That’s the reason that privately I don’t like hotels. Instead I like hiking or climbing the mountains. But if I October 2016


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA TABLE FOR TWO

work and I stay in hotels, I go for a hotel chain, very much known in Germany now, Motel One. I like it very much because it has an affordable price, good design, good service, no excessive stuff and you know what you get. It is like a

second home for me. But what I like much more is our hotel. We own 8 hotels. They are called MK (named after a small village close to our HQ). They are built in the main cities of Germany, in London and elsewhere. I don’t need luxury hotels, just a clean room, good services and no disturbing stuff. I try to bring inside my experience with the hotels I stay during my trips all over the world. At the end of the day, it is easy and simple: we need a good atmosphere inside the room. I don’t need to be treated like a king in a hotel; instead I like easy and simple things. And if we have guests at the company, we invite them at the hotels.”

stayed on my mind. With headphones and music on his ears, he can go really far. I love to travel alone and my family, my kids. ”

A Lifetime Trip “My first trip to Nepal, Himalaya. It was 2007. I climbed 5000meters high. From that summit, you could see many other mountains around. It was a phenomenal moment. We started the climbing at 4a.m. in the morning and you see the sunrise and the sunset from there. All these make this trip a great experience. After all, it is about expectations. Mine are not so high when I travel. We, as human beings, make the trips nice or bad. We are the ones who destroy the nature.”

Take-Risking goes with intuition hand in hand In his view, coming to Tirana has not been an easy decision but take-risking is one of his major quality. Moreover, he felt it in his mind but even in his stomach. “I was looking at this plot more than two years before we decided to buy it. Because Albania was back then weaker than now. And the big question was what can happen later? We discussed with EU

The Himalayas

about our plans as nothing was known for sure. Now it is much more stable. One secret of our company is that we take risks upfront. If you are one of the first movers, you have better possibilities,” Ulmer says. He is happier than before now for his decision seeing that Albania is progressing in its way to Europe.“I really believe that Albania is making a very good step towards Europe. Albania has a big opportunity. For us, it was a decision in the mind but even in the stomach. This is a place which will be developed and a place which will be connected with Europe. All the roads lead to the Balkans market. The issue is when and who. We were the first to take a bigger risk,” he ends.

Ulmer reminds me of an old adage: “Business people should stay in the woods.” “I am a mountain guy. I like the countries in the northern part of Europe because I am fine with the cold. Countries like Canada, Norway, Sweden and others are my favorite. Climbing, hiking or backpacking are what I like. A wood cabin is more than welcome for me.”

Kovachevitsa My favorite destination? - “Places or countries not so much known. I try to explore strange places. I was working in Bulgaria for some time. Going from Bulgaria to Greece I found a small village, all of stone, its name was Kovacevica. Bulgarians are aware of it but the others do not know much about it. This village October 2016

View from Kovachevitsa village

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA HOTEL

Where are you originally from and when did you get into the restaurant business? I am Italian, originally from Naples, a city well known for the high quality of raw materials such as tomato San Marzano, Pasta from Gragnano and many other products. I was engaged in this kind of business in a young age as my family was running a Pizzeria and a Trattoria. In the very beginning I was not excited toward this cooking idea but through time I explored food in different ways and here it was actually the moment when I realized that what I wanted was to cook, to create new special dishes. As I was observing the satisfaction that people would get from my dishes, the desire for me to create in “kitchen” kept growing. All I ever wanted is what I am actually doing, cooking.

When did you move to Albania? I moved in Albania in 2015 ready to face this new challenge that was intriguing me in this brand new hotel, at the Plaza Tirana. Convivium, the restaurant I am engaged lately which is placed in Plaza Tirana Hotel, gave me the opportunity to create and organize delicious dishes with a variety of spices and an enquired quality in taste.

Marco Pinelli: “Convivium” Experience is a great deal” The Italian Executive Chef, Marco Pinelli, with a long international experience in the most prestigious hotel chains, is the Chef of The PLAZA Hotel which has a great cooperation with Italian food suppliers to meet all the requirements and the tastes of all kinds of clients. Of course, combined with the best food suppliers that exist in Albania. In the following interview with “Follow Business Albania”, Pinelli explains why working for “Convivium” is a great deal and above all, why he said ‘yes’ to the invitation to work in the newest 5-star hotel in the center of Tirana. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet

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A lavish breakfast buffet at The PLAZA Tirana

How do you like the area your restaurant is in? It is located in the center of Tirana, which I believe it is a favorable place for its success. It is very carefully located close to institution, houses and different businesses so it can be easily noticed or spotted.

What has been the biggest surprise since you moved to Albania? I was truly surprised from the fact that these people were willing to contribute, learn and create. They are full of life and enthusiasm something very useful and extremely crucial for this kind of job. Their hospitality made me want to work and collaborate with them in the best appropriate way so we can succeed. They made me part of their own culture and they accepted mine as theirs, something truly admirable.

How would you characterize your experience with Convivium Restaurant? My experience with Convivium is yet to be seen as it is the very new restaurant opened by the Plaza hotel, but until this October 2016

point I have to accept that it is a great deal. Its design is one of the most unique designs I have ever noticed especially to its entrance and its special organization. But the most important thing that makes it successful and unique is the accommodation skills, the energy of the people working for it and of course the enthusiasm we have for as we call it “food experience”. Our dishes are unique and not common. We offer the idea, the taste and the enquired experience of enjoying a place designed for your most relaxed and beautiful moments. We have worked a lot upon menus and the purpose is for every taste to be unique and unforgettable. We have interesting and unique dishes like,Goose Foie Gras Terrine, and Guinea Fowl.

There are a lot of restaurants in Tirana. Why should a prospective diner choose yours? Perhaps I would find this answer to my previous explanation of the restaurant but I fear that this will not be enough so I will maintain the fact that we choose to offer quality, variety that will make people wonder “what is else”. 27


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We choose to make people wonder or realize that they have never probably taste dishes like this before. Believe you me, when a client asks for you to join his table and gives you his endless appreciation, then yes, then you can actually feel it.

What dish is your signature dish and why that particular dish? This is actually a question that I often deal with, but my answer comes always with another question. If you have three kids, which one would you choose to be your favorite? This is a question that it is almost impossible to be answered because it is impossible for a parent to make such a decision. This is how I feel with my dishes, it is almost impossible to choose one as my favorite as they are all products of my creativity and they have all same signature. 28

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Give me 5 words to describe Convivium! Stylish, Attractive, Qualified, Unique, Relaxed Atmosphere October 2016

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA ART OF TRAVEL

“Bukë dhe Verë Arbëreshe” What happens when true patriotism runs in one's diplomat's blood veins? He or she gives his/her soul to the work. This is the case of the ambassador of career, Mr. Mal Berisha. This past summer, he toured in some of the Arbëreshë -inhabited regions of Italy, mostly Molise and Calabria, guided marvelously by the long-standing Arbëreshë scholar, Michelangelo La Luna. The Arbëreshë people, as dignified successor of the Skanderbeg's spirit, and maintainer of the Albanian traditions in centuries, seems to have seized the soul and the attention of the diplomat and scholar, Mr. Mal Berisha. In fact, his interest in the Arbëreshë people is early but more conspicuous on the eve of the 104th anniversary of Albania's Independence Day, to be celebrated by the end of November. “It is a sentiment of curiosity, respect and longing. It is love and why not, even an obligation towards them as people of the same blood who passed on the traditions through centuries though living in a foreign land,” says Mr. Berisha among others in a long article on this unforgettable trip (malberisha.com/?p=1800). Emotions ran high when Mr. Berisha, accompanied by his Spouse as well as by Xhoana Papakostandini, once a diplomat at the Albanian Embassy in London, known for her patriotism, her husband, Sergio and their daughter, Anja, found themselves in the village of Santa Sofia d’Epiro where the Albanian flag was waving together with the Italian and European ones in front of the local church. Or when they noticed that the small restaurant by the church was called “Bukë dhe Verë” (Bread & Wine); or when they visited the Arbëreshë Ethnic Museum in Civita.

Mal Berisha (L) and Michelangelo La Luna, July 29, 2016

But a visit in the village of Maki (Calabria), the birthplace of Jeronim De Rada, the foremost figure of the Albanian National Awakening in 19th century, of Arbëreshë descent was the ultimate emotion. With his camera, the diplomat brings some of the most interesting and vivid evidences that the Arbëreshë people are those who so significantly served to the national cause.

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA STATE & SOCIETY

View from one of the KAS events in Tirana

Glos: “The art in your country is to find the way to EU, KAS will help you” If you want a country to move ahead, the consciousness about its past should be raised. “Of course, Albania has great laws. Compared with the international laws, they are not bad. By these laws, Albanians’ freedom to act, to talk, to think is guaranteed. But are they really free given that many laws are not put into practice?,” Head of Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) Office in Albania, Walter Glos wonders in an exclusive interview with Follow Business Albania. According to him, the duty of the Albanian politics is to do the best because the Albanians deserve it. “That’s why we insist on the Albanian politics to carry out the reforms in the context of EU. I mean here even the conduct of free and fair elections,” he says. Glos emphasizes that KAS will help Albania on its development process. “But we will not exert a great pressure in order that the new democracy takes its own time,” he says. 32

In what way is KAS applying its principles - freedom, justice and solidarity - in Albania? What tangible results have been achieved so far in this respect? Konrad Adenauer Foundation Albania operates since 2009 and its main instruments are the seminars, debates, consulting, foreign expertise especially from Germany, publications and workshops. KAS deals with many topics including the cooperation with the political parties as an instrument to strengthen the democracy of one’s country. The cooperation with the political parties is important because we see them as instruments to consolidate one's country's democracy. In this context, we focus on the political formation. So, one year and a half ago, we established the Albanian Center for Good Governance (ACGG) which is an independent institution, financed by the KAS. Alongside with ACGG, we try to improve the political parties' structures and contribute to the modernization of the Albanian Democratic Party. During his last April visit to Albania, the October 2016


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA STATE & SOCIETY

German Parliament Speaker Norbert Lammert appealed on us to support the political parties in Albania and make them cooperate with one another in order to contribute to a healthy political pluralism. This is of a paramount importance from the country’s prospect to join the EU. The art in your country is to find the way to EU. To attain this objective, the focus is primarily on the intelligence of Albanian youth but we should not forget on the other hand that facing the past is an aspect which impacts every step in life. The communist past of Albania plays an important role in this country. So, some years ago, we decided to dedicate ourselves on this issue. If you want a country to move ahead, the consciousness about its past should be raised. Given that, KAS has created another institute - IDMC which deals with the youngsters in different universities. We are glad to see how dedicated these youngsters are towards facing the past. We are proud that KAS Albania has managed to bring all the ex-persecuted organizations together (being aware of their disagreements among them) in its office and help them to agree on building a national memorial. Despite our wish, we

need to have the political supporting to achieve our objectives. We do what we do in the name of Albania’s European integration. As far as the Albanians are concerned, we try to explain to them as much as we can on the EU, its institutions, the way they operate and what does it mean to be part of this big family.

In your view, to what extent are the Albanians free? This is a very good question. It touched me when I read it. We cannot stay without mentioning the 100-year history of Albania – the difficult years of communism and the big efforts to achieve democracy. Of course, Albania has great laws. Compared with the international laws, they are not bad. By these laws, Albanians’ freedom to act, to talk, to think is guaranteed. But are they really free given that many laws are not put into practice? Say, the free debates on corruption, the need for a free judiciary or the decriminalization which disturb the Albanians’ freedom. If by Constitution, the Albanians are free, this fails to happen in reality

because they don’t have access to the laws. This problem gets complicated when coupled with many other grievances. I feel so bad seeing this country fighting in this regard when it enjoys enormous resources such metals, oil, water, green energy, and its friendly and great people. I have visited many world countries but I never come across that form of hospitality I have found in Albania. So the duty of the Albanian politics is to do the best because the Albanians deserve it. That’s why we insist on the Albanian politics to carry out the reforms in the context of EU. I mean here even the conduct of free and fair elections. Of course, the international pressure is important but not too much in order to let the Albanians be themselves. In the end, I would like to emphasize that 20-25 years of new democracy are not many. We, as Germans, but even the experiences of other countries, have proved that such a change takes a lot of time. KAS will help Albania on its development process. But we will not exert a great pressure in order that the new democracy takes its own time.

Head of KAS Albania, Walter Glos accompanying the President of Bundestag, Norbert Lammer in one of his visits in Albania.

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA STATE & SOCIETY

But do you think this is the right time as the society seems still under development? It is a difficult step for the people. But we cannot say that the society is not riped out. The people should get integrated into the political processes. They should be oriented towards the meaning of the next political steps. They should know what has happened in the past. I think the Albanians should do that as soon as possible. So, I am pro opening these files.

What are some of the KAS's major projects which contribute to the integration of Albania to EU?

Do you see these 25 years as transition or democracy? Both. On one hand, the results of Albania in all these years are evident. I can highlight the political change. For the first time, I was in Albania in 2009. Only what has changed since that time should be recognized. It can not taken for granted. Therefore I can say that the Albanian democracy is improving. On this road, this country is not alone. The United States and the EU are by its side. We believe that the day will come when the Albanian state institutions act like in a functional democracy, where they act independently from one another. This will need some time because it is a matter of mentality.

It seems the communist past of Albania is now and then on the way to achieving many objectives. What is your feeling? This is a priority of our work and I explained above why so.

We work heavily with the youngsters to raise their awareness. We do that by creating situations which evoke the past such as the organization of 34

the competition “Ask your grandparents.” The youngsters ask their grandparents different questions on the past and they hope to get the answers they expect to. We wish the politics to do more in this respect. Two years ago, we proposed the law on the opening of files. We helped in the drafting of this law. Luckily the law was approved. But the next step is missing. Mrs. Gentiana Sula was proposed by the Parliament to head the office in charge of opening the 140.000 files. The Parliament needs to approve the five members of this Authority. This step is not being taken. From our view, this is not good at all because we invested time and money in this endeavor. So, we are pending from the Parliament.

This is a theme we support most. Everything should be done to make possible the start of EU negotiations for Albania. We are sincere towards the people during our events. We state that joining Europe does not happen overnight. When we talk about European integration, the Berlin Process comes to my mind. A part of Berlin Process are even the conferences of the Western Balkans. And Albania’s contribution should be recognized in this respect. If we think about Durres Rinas road, the Berlin Process gets highlighted automatically. The road to EU is difficult and all the candidate states should be supported.

The reform in judiciary is the buzzword of Albania. What do you think about it and what is KAS doing to modernize the Albanian judiciary?

This point is not on the agenda of the Parliament for the second semester of 2016. Given the general elections due next year, it seems this matter won’t be in the limelight of the Parliament even next year. This is so unfortunate.

Without the international initiatives, there would have not been an approval of the law on the reform in judiciary on July 21. The next step is the implementation. This is the other point where the EU and the US should focus to have this reform successful. This reform takes time. If some judges have to leave their posts, they will follow all the right steps to take on their rights.

So, one of the main problems we see when we talk about the communist past is the lack of political recognition or commitment to this problem. May be the politics is a bit afraid of this decision and its consequences on the opening of the 140.000 files. But it cannot happen otherwise. It may cause conflicts. But it is better to know and solve these conflicts instead of letting them sleeping.

On this point, the EU and the Americans are investing a lot. It is important to lead this country to reach compromises, so the European standards can be maintained. Given its past, it should make all its efforts to keep these standards. In cooperation with the School of Magistrates, we bring professors from various German institutes like the “Max Planck” Institute to lecture on the topic. October 2016


NET RECRUIT TOP RECRUITMENT AGENCY IN ALBANIA

Rruga Brigada VIII, nr. 16 Kati 5, Apt. 29, 1019, Tiranë, Albania

e-mail: info@netrecruit.al www.netrecruit.al

Through our offices in Tirana, Saranda and Vlora we will be there for you on every step of the way. Our team will be happy to provide our services to you. We can help you get the Albanian property or investment of your dreams. info@albaniapropertygroup.com www.albaniapropertygroup.com

October 2016

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA PEOPLE & SOCIETY

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA PEOPLE & SOCIETY

What's your career journey in human rights? My Journey in the field of human rights has been centered on social justice and gender equality. Surely it is obvious if half the world is undervalued and 85 people hold the same wealth as 3.5 billion people globally there is dreadful injustice. I have dedicated my life to ensuring that every human being receives the opportunities and love they are entitled to. It is shameful we still have slavery rampant in the world. Everyone should have access to enlightened education, housing, healthcare, sustainable food and a clean and beautiful environment. If man can walk on the moon and has the capacity to blow the world to smithereens surely we can have a more equal, fair and kinder world. We have to change the mind set away from people thinking that money and power is the only things that matter. What matters is unlocking the human potential and goodness inherent in all people

Have you seen things change in your professional life time?

Time to change the youth’s mindset that money and power is the only things that matter This is one of the many powerful messages that the Zerbanoo Giford, a British human rights campaigner, philanthropist, women’s champion and writer of Indian origin conveys in this exclusive interview with Follow Business Albania. Gifford was brought from India to Britain by her parents when she was three. She was educated at Roedean School, at Watford College of Technology, at the London School of Journalism and at the Open University. As an immigrant, she has committed herself to the empowerment of women especially in the public arena. In addition, she remains an everlasting charity woman. “When you are generous to another person you don’t have to wait for the results you feel the joy you give instantly. How wonderful!,” she says.

October 2016

The world has changed beyond belief in my life time. As an immigrant and a woman I was stereotyped and expectations of what I would do was not very bright. It was made clear to me that I would never be elected to political office in which determined me to defy the pundits. I was elected making history in 1982. Since then I have committed myself to the empowerment of women especially in the public arena. Today no political party would be seen without adequate representation of women. It sometimes saddens me when I speak to young people whose lives are so different from ours that they have no understanding or respect for the pioneering women that went before them. Many of us sacrificed our ambitions to ensure the collective good. Today women are able to excel in every field because of those who had the vision and dedication to ensure equality of opportunity became a reality.

Has technology played a part? Technology is playing a vital part liberating people. Today they can connect quickly with each other and have access to knowledge and world news. Many of my generation are technology illiterate, including myself. I find it easier to have face to face contact. I have been called a cosmic networker,my connections with people are on a one to one basis or through my writing, public appearances, speeches and work at the ASHA Centre with young people who endlessly inspire me www.ashacentre.org.

What effect does doing charitable work have on a human being? Taking part in charitable endeavors has been a defining part of my life starting with working as a teenage volunteer for the homeless in London. Later I became the London organizer for the homeless charity Shelter. As theDirector of the oldest human rights organisation in the world Anti-Slavery International, I campaigned for the rights for hundreds of millions of enslaved peoplein the world especially children in bonded labor who have been deprived of a childhood. They are forced 37


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA PEOPLE & SOCIETY

with active volunteering. Young people leave inspired and transformed and ready to work with others to change their communities.

What's the key to success? Letting your soul rock.

What's the importance of writing for you? Writing is one of the ways I have found to change not only my own life but others. I write about great heroes and heroines who have left inspirational legacies that are often forgotten or ignored and need to be remembered. Men like Thomas Clarkson who dedicated his life to ending the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, Dadabhai Naoroji who fought tirelessly to become the first non-white member of the British parliament in 1892 and Noor Inayat Khan Britain’s last radio operator who was brutally murdered in Dachau by the Nazis for fighting against fascism. Many years ago I used to also write a political column that challenged those in power.

to work in mines, factories, farms and brothels for the insatiable greed of some unscrupulous people. I always tell people that we are all here in this world for a reason, to do good.

Politicians must start acting for the good of all communities.Real service is notself-service. My writing is always underpinned with the thought that everything is possible and all that you can only take from life is what you have given away.

As it is stated in the Bible ‘As you sow, so will you reap’. When you are generous to another person you don’t have to wait for the results you feel the joy you give instantly. How wonderful. How can the young be inspired?

What do you think of Brexit?

The young are inspired by seeing and being involved in real action. They are tired of talking about a better world, they want to see it in action.My greatest achievement is founding the ASHA Centre in Britain which is now recognised globally as astunningly beautiful Centre that successfully creates opportunities for young people from every part of the world and from every community and faith.

I feel ashamed at what has happened after the Brexit vote in Britain. I think the hatred and division that it has engendered is shocking. If people are told by some unscrupulous politicians that people from other countries are to be feared, then no one should be surprised if foreigners are targeted with hate campaigns. I have experienced it myself and those that work at ASHA Centre from Eastern Europe have been abused in the supermarkets and roads.

At the ASHACentre they are exposed to a richly varied programme of activities designed to meet the challenges of our times, through combining community arts, sustainable living, transformational leadership, intercultural/interfaith dialogue

Where are the great leaders who have dynamic hearts and understand that we all live in a interconnected world where unity and our shared humanity is to be applauded. Out of love not fear you create a bold new world.

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA LIFE & ART

HOW TO TELL IT’S 9AM IN MILAN. BY 9, BY 12, BY DHL.

April 2016

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Henrik Ljung: "Duxiana Feels Welcomed in Albania" Please can you make a short presentation of yourself? My name is Henrik Ljung and I represent the fourth generation of the Ljung Family who has owned and operated Duxiana since 1926. I started my Duxiana career in 19‌oh I was born with it. Like many of those who have worked in family companies will tell you, at first you resist the temptation to join your family business. You want to try your own wings, to explore the world and feel like you earned it. 40

October 2016


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA VENTURE

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA VENTURE

So, I did my army service in Sweden in 1994-1995 and then moved to Brussels in 1995 where I eventually graduated in 1999. A couple of weeks before graduating, I started thinking “you know what, I deserve to work for Duxiana now”.

thinking to myself: I love it and I’m proud of it. I felt like a James Bond who travels a lot, is diplomatic, solves problems and has many opportunities... Soon after I headed to Sweden to help Duxiana grow worldwide. And basically that is what I have been doing since 1994, making sure Duxiana is growing and finding new markets. Surely the latter is the most fun part of this business, no matter if it is Korea, India or Albania. My job is pretty easy because our product speaks for itself. I don’t need to say too much. Ninety percent of the people who work with us and who decide to promote Duxiana, buy the bed first, love it and call us saying: “I need to promote this bed. I need to leave California and go to Korea and sell this bed, or I need to go back to Albania to bring this

started to grow really quickly with the Duxiana concept.

What are some of the hotels which have chosen the DUX bed for their rooms? There are quite a few hotels in Scandinavia, New York and others, about 150 worldwide. One of the most famous is the Burj Al Arab in Dubai.

View from the grand inauguration of Duxiana in Albania on April 28th, 2016.

At the time, i was looking to study diplomacy in Stockholm when my father contacted me and told me that he needed some help in our New York office. This was the chance I was looking for. I moved to NY in 1999 and started work in our corporate office in Upham. For almost five years, my job consisted of traveling to all our stores, about 40 at the time, meet the people, see how they were doing and, in a few words, help them out. During those five years, I heard all the questions, had all the answers and had met all of our people. I remember 42

bed to the Albanian market”. The people try the beds in the hotels, they love them and ask us how they can have them. We are a fairly small company but we make a strong beep globally.

What are the major markets of the company? Scandinavia has always been the major market throughout the years. The biggest market outside Scandinavia is the US, where in the beginning of the 80’s we October 2016


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA VENTURE

Duxiana in Albania. That’s where I came into the picture. I met Saimir the first time last year and since then we have been figuring out how to establish ourselves in Albania.

Who is your ideal customer? One who appreciates the good quality in a product, buys it and becomes its ambassador.

How can someone buy your product? The best way is to contact a store or a representative of the company. In Albania, our beds are showcased in the lobby and in the rooms of the Rogner Hotel Tirana. The contact point is Saimir. You just call him to arrange a private meeting and try the bed for yourself. It will be an amazing experience. His contact info:

Saimir Topollari President of Duxiana Albanian Operation

How did you reach Albania? It was a coincidence. Saimir Topollari had stopped in our store in Manhattan and by chance my father happened to be there. We have had Albanian connections before through a restaurant across the 58th St. ne New York. It was called Bruno’s and it was driven by Albanians. We also had Albanian connections in Sweden. We were thinking about what other connections we had. My father mentioned De Niro who has Albanian blood and he owns a hotel down in Greenwich and may be that is something. Anyway, my father and Saimir exchanged the contact details and I think the next summer, my parents went to Tirana because they wanted to visit Albania and ask Saimir if he would be interested to working together. They met, explored the country and talked about how to bring October 2016

saimir.topollari@duxiana.al www.duxiana.al +355 67 20 70 333 +355 69 70 70 333

Saimir Topollari Over a decade in the United States, Saimir Topollari left the American dreamland to take the lead of Duxiana Operations in Albania. With the support and trust of the Ljung Family. “Albania is developing and the Albanian culture is starting to shift, to where investing in good health is becoming a priority. Albanians have started to appreciate quality products. They are investing more and more towards their health and general well being. Especially in a good bed, a key contributor to a more healthy lifestyle. “We are positive. To us, it’s worth leaving a country to return home to Albania for the sake of trading a good product for your people.” How has Duxiana Albania positioned right now in the domestic market? Duxiana has been in the Albanian market since the beginning of this year. The grand inauguration on April 28th, 2016 was the culmination of our efforts. We are very active on social media and, so far, have mostly led low budget marketing campaigns. We are currently trying to stir the interest of the Albanian elite class. Once the interest is there, we hold private meetings during which time clients can see and experience the bed up close at Rogner Hotel Tirana. Being that the DUX Bed is hand-made with specific requests from our clients, orders usually take between 3-4 weeks to arrive. What are your expectations about this unique product? One with a, clearly, challenging target market. Like everywhere in the world where Duxiana products are being sold today, we depend a lot on word of mouth from loyal customers who love their DUX Bed. And just like in many of our markets, we believe that Duxiana products can dominate the Albanian market when it comes to personalized, high quality, certified, hand-made products. Our goal is to give Albanian consumers a chance to purchase high quality products in their own country without having to travel abroad to do so. Duxiana is one of their options now. Ideally this product needs a personalized approach, that’s why we have distributed our brochures in English and Albanian. There are many ways to promote this kind of product; we aim in finding the most effective ones. 43


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA SPECIAL REPORT

CONSUMPTION, INVESTMENTS EXPORTS, AND UNEMPLOYMENT IN ALBANIA

Household consumption = 82% of GDP; Investments = 26.5% of GDP; Exports = 36.5% of GDP

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Eduard Zaloshnja The author works as Research Scientist at Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Washington DC, USA From the beginning of time, consumption has been the main economic goal for every family, tribe and society. To achieve this goal, countless rivers of sweat and blood are shed for centuries throughout the world. Albania is no exception. Consumption rose in Albania in the decades following WW2, but returned to a bare minimum by 1991. The per capita household consumption in 1991 was the equivalent of today’s 18 Euros per month. Shops were almost empty, food was rationed and the country’s grain reserves could last only 6 days.

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Gross Domestic Product From 1992 to 2008 Albanians went on a consumption binge, fueled by the remittances of hundreds of thousands of workers that migrated abroad after the fall of Communism (more than 1/3 of registered Albanian voters live currently abroad). The expression “Albania exports workers and imports consumer goods” became a cliché in economic circles. The per capita household consumption experienced a 10 fold increase during that period, but still remained the lowest in Europe – only 180 Euros monthly per capita in 2008. After the global financial crises hit Greece and Italy, the countries where the bulk of Albanian emigrants live, remittances from abroad started to dry up – data from Bank of Albania show that per capita remittances fell from 27 Euros to 16 Euros per month during the 2007-14 period. On the other hand, the construction sector started a major contraction due to housing overcapacity – according to Albanian Census, 1/3 of dwellings were unoccupied in 2011. And the major slowdown in construction was followed by a slowdown in incomes for families that were directly or indirectly relying on it. With internal and external cash inflows to families slowing down, household consumption slowed down, too. From 2008 to 2015, the average annual household consumption real growth was a mere 1.5%. In 2015, the per capita household consumption was 236 Euros per month (1 Euro=140 Lek) – only 4 Euros higher than in the previous year (The total household consumption experienced a slight decrease in 2015, but

196

208 180

170 173

173

216 190 173

227 194

183 192

198 203

population shrank by 1.5% due to emigration. Thus, per capita consumption was 1% higher). In the first quarter of 2016, the per capita household consumption was 232 Euros per month, or 9 Euros more than in the same quarter of the previous year (Graph 1). There are no data to break down this monthly consumption figure by region or by income level, but it’s a sure bet that in large urban areas and in high income families, consumption levels are much higher than in rural areas and in poor families, respectively. The 232 euros per capita spent monthly on consumption in the beginning of 2016 are much higher than 170 Euros per month registered in the first quarter of 2008, but most of the increase was due to inflation. While per capita consumption rose by 37% during that period, the consumer price index rose by 24%. In the last two quarters of 2015 and in the first quarter of 2016, household consumption picked up some steam (compared to the same quarters of the previous years). However, the growth rate is not anywhere near the growth rates Albania experienced in the 1992-2008 period. And, as our survey of consumption expectations shows (Page XX), the slow household consumption growth may continue in the months ahead. Moreover, as Graph 2 shows, Albania’s per capita monthly household consumption remains below its neighbors’ consumption (Given the high rural populations in Albania and Kosovo, household consumption may be underestimated in these countries due to own produce consumption in family farms).

227 201 201

214 205

236

256 219

212 215

223

Graph 1. Per capita monthly household consumption in Albania, 2008-16 (in Euros)

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253

234 234 232 223 224

227

Source: INSTAT

October 2016


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MONTENEGRO 367 SERBIA 297 MACEDONIA 239

ALBANIA 236

KOSOVA 221

Graph 2. Per capita monthly household consumption in Albania’s neighborhood, 2015 (in Euros)

Given the slowdown in housing construction and remittances from abroad (the consumption engine’s fuel in the 1992-2008 period), Albania is focusing its energies toward two other

October 2016

Source: CIA’s World Factbook

drivers of consumption – investments and exports. Both can increase employment, thus increasing incomes that go toward consumption.

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Investments In the 2006-09 period, Albania experienced a boom in public investments, mainly in road construction. At the height of that boom (in 2008), public investments represented 9.4% of Albania’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – financed almost entirely through public debt. By comparison, in 2015, public investments represented only 4.4% of GDP. Due to a debt consolidation agreement with IMF, Albania will continue to keep this low level of public investments – in four years, it needs to bring down the public debt from the current level of around 70% of GDP, to the level that prevailed before the start of boom years’ debt binge (below 60% of GDP).

The slack created by lower public investments seems to be filled by private investments in recent years. As Graph 3 shows, despite the low level of public investments, investments in fixed capital increased significantly in 2014 and 2015, compared to previous years. In 2015, Albania’s per capita monthly investments in fixed capital were comparable to Montenegro’s and Macedonia’s and much higher than Kosova’s and Serbia’s (Graph 4)

110 100

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2016-Q1

2015-Q4

2015-Q3

2015-Q2

2015-Q1

2014-Q4

2014-Q3

2014-Q2

2013-Q4

Graph 3. Per capita monthly investments in fixed capital in Albania, 2008-2016

66

60

53

2013-Q3

2013-Q2

2013-Q1

2012-Q4

63 66

62

58

57

2012-Q3

77 76

75

71 73

2012-Q2

2011-Q1

2010-Q4

2010-Q3

2010-Q2

2010-Q1

2009-Q4

2009-Q3

2009-Q2

2009-Q1

2008-Q4

78

61

56

2008-Q3

2008-Q2

73

2012-Q1

64

56

2008-Q1

72 75

2011-Q4

68

77 77

2011-Q3

76

95

88

85

2011-Q2

85

2014-Q1

96

99

Source: INSTAT

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MONTENEGRO 88

MACEDONIA 82

ALBANIA 81 KOSOVA 69

Graph 4. Per capita monthly investments in Albania’s neighborhood, 2015 (in Euros)

SERBIA 65

Source: CIA’s World Factbook

While Serbia and Kosova are caught in the middle of a geostrategic struggle and Macedonia and Montenegro have their ethnic problems (which discourage investments), Albania has only itself to blame for the still low level of investments. Slovenia, a Balkan country that didn’t go through the ethnic wars that plagued the peninsula after the break of former Yugoslavia, invested 314 euros per capita monthly in fixed capital in 2015. By comparison, the ethnic-tension-free Albania invested almost 4 times less than Slovenia.

increase the reliability of the power supply in Albania.

The high level of corruption and the justice system unfairness and ineffectiveness are repeatedly mentioned in international reports as a major hindrance for investments in Albania. In the past decade, several proposed big seaside resort projects have not come to fruition due to unresolved ownership conflicts and/or corruption hurdles. The most notable was the Club Med project in Kakome (near Saranda), which could bring high value tourists to Albania.

As construction stopped being the engine of economic growth by 2009, Albania’s exports started to grow dramatically. Until 2009, the value of exports covered only about a quarter of imports (Graph 5). Starting in 2010, the percentage of imports covered by exports exceeded 30%, reaching 45% in 2015.

Four others had been planned in the Adriatic coastline, but only groups of private villas (called “touristic villages”) are built so far. As the example of the Anatolia’s seaside resorts shows, the billions invested in resorts bring income and hard currency to the country, and provide employment for decades to come. According to World Travel & Tourism Council, one billion dollars in resort investments in developing countries creates a total of 20000 jobs – 4000 directly related to the resorts themselves. The recent justice system reform in Albania, required and encouraged by both the EU and the US, is expected to eventually lower corruption and increase the justice system’s fairness and effectiveness. Meanwhile the land ownership reform is expected to lower land title disputes. Furthermore, investments in new electric power generation and transmission capacity will October 2016

All of the above may encourage new investments, both in the tourism sector and in manufacturing. However, in the next two years, the main investments are expected to be concentrated on the TAP gas pipeline and on the Devolli hydropower project – both are projects that do not provide long-term employment.

Exports

Further export growth in the short run is hindered by low crude oil and metallic ore prices in the international markets. However, in the long run, a pickup in international prices, coupled with an expected increase in investments due to justice system and ownership reforms, may open the way for an accelerated growth in Albania’s exports. Currently, Albania’s per capita exports of goods and services are significantly lower than most of its neighbors’ (Graph 6). In 2015, the per capita exports were at 105 euro per month and included textiles, footwear, asphalt, metals and metallic ores, crude oil, vegetables, fruits, and tobacco. By comparison, Slovenia, the most developed country in the Western Balkans, exported per capita 12 times more than Albania, including in its exports high value products such as manufactured goods, machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, and food. 49


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21%

23%

28% 22% 22%

25%

30% 24%

26% 24% 23% 23%

26% 25%

26% 26%

34%

36%

45% 48% 46% 40%

24%

1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

Source: INSTAT

Graph 5. Percentage of imports covered by exports in Albania (1993-2015)

MONTENEGRO 189

MACEDONIA 177

SERBIA 168 ALBANIA 105

KOSOVA 14

Graph 6. Per capita monthly exports of goods and services in Albania’s neighborhood, 2015 (in Euros)

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Source: CIA’s World Factbook

October 2016


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Unemployment As mentioned above, investment and export growth can reduce unemployment. In turn, a reduction in unemployment can increase consumption – thus, inducing the functioning of the Albanian economy at or near full capacity (Bank of Albania reports that the Albanian economy has underused its capacity in the last 6 years).

However, the unemployment rate is currently very high in Albania. The official unemployment rate is 16.9%, but it may include those working at near-subsistence farming. According to CIA’s World Factbook, the real unemployment rate may be around 30%. In Albania’s neighborhood, only Kosova has unemployment higher than 30%, with Macedonia being close to this figure (Graph 7). By comparison, Slovenia has an unemployment rate of only 12%.

KOSOVA 35.2% ALBANIA 30.0%

MACEDONIA 26.9% SERBIA 19.3%

Graph 7. Unemployment rates in Albania’s neighborhood, 2015

October 2016

MONTENEGRO 18.5%

Source: CIA’s World Factbook

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WORLD ACADEMY OF TIRANA Proudly the only International Baccalaureate World School in Albania IB school code: 006795 “International Baccalaureate (IB) World Schools share a common philosophy – a commitment to high quality, challenging, international education that we believe is important for our students. Only Schools autŠ‘”‹œ‡†„›–Š‡ ”‰ƒ‹œƒ–‹‘…ƒ‘ơ‡”ƒ›‘ˆ‹ts three academic programmes: the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP), or the Diploma Programme (and in ƒ††‹–‹‘–Š‡ ƒ”‡‡”Ǧ”‡Žƒ–‡†‡”–‹Ƥ…ƒ–‡ȌǤƒ†‹†ƒ–‡•–ƒ–—•‰‹˜‡• no guarantee that authorization will be granted.”

World Academy of Tirana, Rr. Rezervave, Lunder - Tirana, ALBANIA Tel.: +355 69 60 56 123 www.wat.al, info@wat.al


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Sanja Bujas Juraga, Ambassador of Croatia to Albania Originally from the beautiful Dalmatian City of Ĺ ibenik, she moved to Zagreb when she enrolled in the Faculty of Law. For her and her family, Zagreb has become their hometown. She is married and has two children. Deep in her heart, she is very much connected to her Dalmatian roots. Bujas Juraga is a professional diplomat for 23 years, ever since she joined the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Since my arrival, my positive feelings and expectations have been confirmed in so many ways. I can see many similarities in the mentality and the cultural spirit of our two nations. Besides, the hospitality of Albanians is so unique and overwhelming to the extent that it has made me feel like a citizen of Tirana. It is a great honour for me to represent my country in the Republic of Albania. Croatia and Albania have excellent bilateral relations, based on openness and transparency, without any open issues. Nevertheless, it is a big challenge for me to mobilize different sectors or our societies, local authorities and the business communities to stronger engagement in developing our bilateral cooperation, with measurable and visible results.

Albania and Croatia diplomatic relations - the state of the bilateral relations today. Diplomatic relations between Croatia and Albania have been established in August 1992, early on after Croatia’s proclamation of independence. Our independence movement coincided with the processes of abolition of communism in Albania. Those were turbulent times for both countries - of the greatest historic significance for the future of our nations. Bearing in mind the traditional friendship between our peoples, we have been sympathetic and supportive of each other from then on really. We had the same foreign policy priorities from the very beginning - membership in NATO and the EU. We joined NATO together in 2009 and have been most successfully cooperating in this organization and different peacekeeping missions ever since. Croatia has been a strong supporter to Albania on its path to the EU from the very beginning and it still is one of the fiercest advocates of EU enlargement in Brussels.

Croatian Ambassador: My priority? To enhance better traffic connections By Rudina HOXHA

Her impressions on Albania I assumed my duties as Croatian Ambassador in Tirana at the very beginning of this year. Coming to Albania seemed to me as going to a familiar country because of our historic ties, because of the beautiful Adriatic Sea that connects us, and above all because of the genuine friendship between our nations that I have been very well aware of.

October 2016

We do care about Albania and the developments in this country. Right now we are paying the greatest attention to the processes related to the justice reform. For the sake of the Albanian citizens and for the sake of the stability and the prosperity of this beautiful country we are most hopeful that juridical reform will be continued efficiently, particularly its implementation. The adoption of the new constitutional reform on justice system by the Albanian Parliament on July 22 was a tremendous success and victory. However there is much more to be done without further delay of course - because missing out on this opportunity will delay launching of negotiations with the EU, and that will certainly be detrimental for the development of the country. Croatian experts have been very active in different EU projects providing technical assistance to Albanian authorities. Croatia is a junior partner in the EU Twinning Project on the State Audit Reform, together with Poland and we are very proud of the cooperation in this very important area, in simplified way to say it is about how the state spends taxpayer’s money. Croatia is the “youngest” member of the EU with the freshest experience of EU accession and that is our advantage. We are doing our best to transfer our knowledge and experiences to Albanian institutions. 55


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Economically our two countries are not overly powerful but we can offer much more to each other than we are doing now. There is definitely room for intensification of our economic cooperation. There is huge potential for that because our economies are compatible in so many ways and we have to explore all opportunities. In order to facilitate that, we need a direct flight Zagreb - Tirana but also a maritime connection. We are in the process of negotiating ferry routes between Croatian ports and Durres. These connections would be most helpful for our business relations but also for tourism. My first and foremost priority is to initiate the necessary changes - be it in trade exchange, investments, joint ventures, or cultural cooperation. To succeed in this, we definitely need better traffic connections. 56

Things have been changing in Croatia thanks to EU Croatia’s membership in the European Union is a dream come true, the same as the membership in NATO. We are proud of being part of the EU in any respect, particularly in the decision making processes and the creation of common European policies. The EU is an intricate structure as such as we know but we have gradually mastered the operational templates and our officials and experts feel at home in Brussels by now.

The efficiency of our cooperation with EU institutions applies more and more to the use of the “famous” EU funds as well, both on the national and local level. October 2016


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To come back to your specific question the answer is Yes. Our expectations have been met of course. We knew all along what EU membership stood for. Things have been changing in Croatia thanks to EU membership in many positive ways. The transition does not happen overnight though and it certainly will take a few more years for our society and institutions to introduce the so called European standards in all spheres. We are surely getting there. Our institutions are seriously looking into all business and cooperation opportunities. I would also like to mention another recent example of new opportunities. Namely, representatives of numerous tourist agencies from Dubrovnik visited Albania a few months back. The visit was organized by the tourist boards of the Dubrovnik County and the Albanian Tourist Association. Croatian tour operators met with the Albanian partners. They were discussing models and frameworks of future cooperation and visited important tourist sites in Albania. As a result of this most successful event we have already launched mixed tourist packages for this tourist season.

This summer, in the contacts with Croatian authorities and business people, it was agreed to organize the study on a multipurpose trip from Croatia to Albania. That group of people will enjoy in your country as tourists but also as visitors exploring the possibilities for connections in business-science-education field. There is so much potential and obviously we are on the right track to tap it. All in all, we would like us to take better advantage of the friendship there is between our countries and peoples. In my term of duty I personally will not shy any effort to make a tangible contribution to the development of our relations with this beautiful country and its people.

Tourism, so much potential between us Tourism is one of the most important pillars of both the Croatian and Albanian economies. That is another similarity between our countries - the huge tourism potential. We are more advanced in this domain of course but thanks to that we are in the position to assist Albania in the development of its potential. Albanian authorities are very much interested in this specific kind of cooperation to the point - as we have been told - that Croatia is in many ways a model tourist country for Albania. We are proud and appreciative of that. Just recently there was a very successful meeting in Tirana between the Croatian Minister of Construction and Spatial Planning Mr Lovro Kuščević and Minister Eglantina Gjermeni. October 2016

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Meet in Balance at TheClub SPA Encompassing 3,000 square meters, the TheClub SPA offers a unique range of activities for your well-being – an oasis of relaxation and recuperation for body and mind. We invite you to immerse yourself in health and well-being, and restore your body and soul to physical balance and inner harmony. Our TheClub Life Balance programs will help you do just that. The Swiss SPA Life Balance Philosophy Business combined with the best of well-being: Meet in Balance is especially designed to give your teambuilding day or management meeting that extra-special something to foster team spirit, creative developments and the well-being of you and your colleagues. You can utilise the philosophy of the TheClub Life Balance to ensure that your meeting is an effective and memorable occasion. As, whatever your situation in life, you have to find the right balance in order to achieve physical and mental well-being and relaxation. You can choose from four different programs: Beauty, Relax, Vitality or Detox. Treatment Menu With our body treatments you can turn off the world. Return back into the game rejuvenated and revitalized. Push the pause button for life and revitalize your spirit with our expert techniques and methods using customized ingredients. Leave everything up to us, and you’ll walk out of our SPA with new energy and power for your daily routine. www.theclub.al


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“Toptani Shopping Center” Beats Competitors, everything so near you! A new mega retail and entertainment project is adding up to the centre of Tirana and to the main metropolitan area. It is ‘Toptani Shopping Center.’ On the eve of its inauguration, due in the fall, a talk with Ms. Rudina Hoxha, Responsible of Leasing & Marketing at 'Toptani Shopping Center' sheds more light on this new project which is emerging day by day. Hoxha underlines that “Toptani Shopping Center”, which satisfies the highest standards in services as well as architectural and technical aspects, has a great asset. “Location! It is the nearest station for purchases. Apart from the best mix of brands and services, we offer our customers the chance to save money, save time, save traffic jam! “Toptani Shopping Center” brings everything, so near!,” she emphasizes in the following interview. October 2016

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Please can you make a summary of some of the major facts about “Toptani Shopping Center”? “Toptani Shopping Center” is located in a thriving and vibrant area in the heart of Tirana, Albania’s capital and main metropolitan area. It is the newest retail and entertainment destination. With an area of 60,000 sqm spanning over eight floors and convenient parking space for 600 cars, we aim to provide an unforgettable all-in-one shopping and entertainment adventure by providing a powerful mix of retail, dining, and entertainment facilities.

To summarize some key facts about “Toptani Shopping Center”:

How will this new Center assist the businesses in the country? “Toptani Shopping Center” is an ideal business opportunity for investors and companies interested in retail, office and entertainment premises. It is the perfect location to engage customers with business companies. We believe that our center provides the highest standards in services as well as in architectural details and technical solutions. We aim to create a shopping and entertainment experience by offering the best possible range of retailers and services which exceed all expectations in a modern and attractive environment. This is a center designed for the tenants: A functional space, well positioned in each floor, with a large flow of customers. We are flexible in providing the ultimate space tailored to the specific business needs and brands of interested parties.

• Convenient location in the center of Tirana • Eight floors of retail, office, and entertainment space • Underground parking with a capacity of 600 cars • Unique, attractive design & modern architecture • Great visibility & lighting due to the open atrium • Home to famous international brands

When can the “Toptani Shopping Center” be inaugurated? The Grand Opening is expected to be in the autumn 2016. The exact date will be made public through our marketing campaign.

How will the “Toptani Shopping Center “ fight off competition? “Toptani Shopping Center” has the biggest advantage. Location! It is the nearest station for purchases. Apart from the best mix of brands and services, we offer our customers the chance to save money, save time, save traffic jam! “Toptani Shopping Center” brings everything, so near!

What marketing methods have you planned to use? We will use a great mix of advertising, events and social media to generate awareness and drive foot traffic to “Toptani Shopping Center.” In charge of October 2016

developing the marketing strategy I will consider the complex layout of the center and the huge variety of products and services offered that need to be promoted. It will require significant time

spent at the center talking to merchants, understanding their new products and features, trying to get input into our marketing initiatives, and informing them of what we have planned for dolor the center. Lorem ipsum sit amet 63


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How would you characterize the architecture and the design that you have created here? Is there an unifying theme behind this project? Enida:There are many aspects that we found in this special contextthat inspired us to this design. So, we can say that this design is tailor-made for this place.

KEPI PRIVÈ the start for a high quality real estate in Albania

The first thing that we integrated in the design was thetopography. Every building is a response of the specific topography of

By Rudina HOXHA

The Cape of Rodon(Kepi i Rodonit) is one of the most untouched parts of Albania. The beauty of this Cape elevates as the car drives ahead bit by bit. The wide space and trees on both sides of the road leading to Cape of Rodon make it hauntingly beautiful – a place where you’ll discover solitude and barren beauty at its best. But this part, in the North of Durres, has become even more beautiful by a special project, which bears the authorship of Enida Mitro-Wieshalla and Marcus Wieshalla. She is a terrific Albanian architect while he is a German specialized in financial services. As a couple they make an ideal combination to produce a perfect tourism project like Kepi Privé. This project, consisting of 8 stand-alone luxury villas and a private hotel of 8 luxury rooms and suites, is so particular because it is driven by the desire to guarantee the quality of living of the people rather than money aim. Kepi Privé guarantees the ‘wow’ effect. Nature is inside each and every villa. “What makes us unique is that we have built this project from the client’s prospective. We are not just the investor here. We create something while keeping always in mind that it should be something about which the clients should be very enthusiastic. It must trigger that “wow” effect. Sometimes this kind of approach it costs a lot to us. I don’t meanjustmoney but time and energy we put in it to make ithappen. Thisis a kind of approach I have have not seen anywhere else” says Enida Mitro-Wieshalla in the following interview for Follow Business Albania. Whereas Marcus Wieshalla thinks that this project is so special as nature is brought inside whereby it is guaranteeing its quality of living. “It is a place where you pull yourself and you feel great. You feel warm and in peace. The quality of living is in the focus. The pure quality. And another very important aspect is that the location and architecture of the project keeps it is so very private, discrete and intimate."

October 2016

View from one of the villas at Kepi Prive

the site. Another importantelement is the linearity which is inspired by the most important line we see here, the horizon. It might look very simple but this is what attracts us most. The result is a kind of architecture that does not pretend to challenge its contextbut is just privileged to be part of it, treating its context with great respect.

What are the clients’ needs in this project and what would you have done differently if you would have not taken into account the clients and their sensations? Enida: May be the most important need to be fulfilled here is the relation of the user with the outside space. We created spaces that give you the most of this magnificent view. 65


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From every space there is a strong visual connection that makes you feel the landscape. If the client chooses to come here and he/she appreciates that special feeling (he/she does not like to spend time in a closed space), he/she enjoys the most of the landscape and the view. Marcus: That’s why we used panoramic windows. What you see when you come inside is a picture and not a hole in the wall. It is the beauty of the whole area that we brought inside the villa.

Why should people choose Kepi Prive over the other similar projects? Marcus: Because itoffers many things no other project / development does.Take a look at the other projects. The distance between one house to another is between 3-5 meters.At Kepi Privé the distance between the villas startfrom10-15 meters. Enida:The most important difference is that we have built this project from the client’s perspective. We are not just the investor here. We are creating something while keeping always in mind that it should be something about which the clients should be very enthusiastic. It must trigger that “wow” effect. And sometimes this kind of approach it costs a lot to us. I don’t mean onlymoney but first of allthe energy we put in it to make it happen. This is an approach I have not seen anywhere else.

in time and uses resources in an intelligent way.That’s why we did not build more than 8 villas. It would have been easy to construct 16 villas on the same plot but sustainability would have lost consequently.

What risks and challenges embody this project?

Where did you get the inspiration to build such a unique design?

Enida: Actually we took a lot of time to think about everything in order not to encounterany surprises. Actually we did not have any from our side. What we did not expect was something that came from the human factor. We did not expect that it would cost so much time and energy to have the right solutions and to make things done properly and perfectly. But the result speaks for itself.

Enida: We have been travelling a lot in many beautiful places. We are very sensitive to the beauty and we take it with us. We work with this kind of sensation. What we want to create is something that fits to this place and it moves you, it creates an emotion, a special emotion. It brings you memories. This collective sensation from the other countries has been re-built in another way with a sensitive approach to fit to this special place.

What does sustainability mean in this project for you?

We are very sensitive to the beauty and we take it with us. We work with this kind of sensation

Marcus: Let’s take the colors! You will find the entire color palette of the sandy Marcus: Sustainability embodies this beach here inside. Take the color of the project thoroughly. It was one of our main carpet in the living room. You have the priorities to create something that will last feeling that the water is inside. There is 66

nobody who does not like the sea. When you think of the sea, you want to have the horizonin front of you. And then you need a warm, comfortable and safe surrounding. And if you think of all these aspects, Kepi Privéis a pure example. There are no negative effects here. There is no manipulation. When you come here you almost don’t see the project at all, you are invited in the nature. It is all about simple and pure lines, simple and pure colors. Enida: We are emphasizing and framing things that are worth tobe emphasized. If you have this blue surface in front of you, you cannot make a small window. You need a wide screen.

What is the most memorable experience so far about this project? Marcus: It was the first landing at Rinas airport. We were flying above this part of the coast and it seemed to be empty. This was the spark for me. I wasmesmerized by the beauty of this coast, I did not expect to see something like that. Later we started to think about the place…

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Then, we thought this is it ! Pure, unspoilt nature which is not typical in Europe where everything is becoming more and more crowded.

What’s your attitude towards art and design? Enida: It is a very open minded attitude. We create things that respond to the needs of the client. At the same time, we pay a lot of attention at sustainability. We do not go for a certain style. We just create tailor made solutions emphasizing the beauty of the place and fulfilling the need of high quality design. Marcus: What we create is timeless, ageless. You should not like it only today, but tomorrow as well. Since I was a little child, I remember bathrooms in the beige color. And it did not run out of fashion. Because it is the color of the nature. It is not old-fashioned, on the contrary it is very contemporary.

How do you see this project in 5 or 10 years? Marcus: Maybe this is the start for a high quality real estate in Albania with a low density of development which stresses only on the quality of living.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet

Can you mention some added values to this project? Enida: All the brands that we have worked with, mostly German, Austrian and Italian, were well-thought and well-selected by us. I think this has also to do with our sustainable approach.

Can you mention some added values to this project? Enida: All the brands that we have worked with, mostly German, Austrian and Italian, were well-thought and well-selected by us. I think this has also to do with our sustainable approach.

October 2016

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70% of Albanian Children Experience Violence, Report TIRANA – “70% of children admitted that violence is present in some forms in their life. Out of this number, there are about 5% of the children that are reporting high levels of persistent and pervasive violence. To give specific examples, this figure of 5%, translated to some of our biggest cities would suggest that there are more than 3.500 children in Durres and more than 3.000 in Elbasan that are experiencing violence on a regular basis.”

October 2016

This was the core of the 2015 Child Well-Being Report, launched by World Vision Albania & Kosovo last June in the presence of many human rights activists, organizations, media and diplomatic corps. Such worrisome data were stated by the National Director of World Vision Albania, Toni Gogu and the Design Monitoring and Evaluation Manager at World Vision, Ariola Kallciu with the special presence of Connie Lenneberg, Regional Leader, Middle East and Eastern Europe, World Vision International.

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View from the event where the findings of the World Vision report were made public.

The report says that “70.7 % of children reported that are aware of cases of child abuse, violence and neglect. When asked if they have reported a case of a child experiencing abuse, violence, neglect or exploitation in their community only 14.5 % of children answered that they did.” On the other hand, the report emphasized that “a majority of adults responded that they would report a case of suspected child abuse in their community - with only 13.5 % answering they would not.” However, the data revealed some

concerning findings. 50.6 % of adults are not aware of any service present in their area where they could report the suspected abuse.” The report highlights a great result that “Children with whom WV has been directly working during FY15, show higher levels of empowerment, CP related skills, stronger connection with their caregivers, and lower levels of violence”, thus suggesting that “WV’s direct programming approaches with children do have significant effects on the lives of those children. Children with

whom WV works also have greater involvement in decision making processes.” Regarding one of the three major programs of WV Albania, the Education Program, the WVA&K increased focus on teacher capacity for inclusive education (full access to education for minorities and children with disabilities)and empowering school structures and communities to promote the ‘School as a Community Centre’ Model. The program reached 15.577 beneficiaries, out of which there were 1.168 direct participants (children and adults). Schools in general report that they are making progress towards providing inclusive education, ranking inclusiveness at 73.7%, although much work needs to be done in this sector, the report says. Albania still lacks a fully functional system which should prevent, protect, and rehabilitate children from all forms of abuse and discrimination. In other words, Albania still does not have a child protection system in place. That’s where the World Vision goes in with its great role by speaking up on behalf of children and improving their lives through Child Protection Programme, Inclusive Education, Youth Program, Business Facilitation and other projects based on child well-being.

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organizational municipalities.

changes

around

the

We need to make sure that there is political will that the government of Albania commits to quickly ensure the child protection units are re-established in every municipality, the standards to serve to children are met and their staffs are trained and maintained in those positions, so they are able to be effective. In terms of Albania and the region, unfortunately the level of violence is quite global in many countries and the key element that distinguishes the level of violence from one country to another is really a good child protection system. It is not about putting the children in institutions, instead supporting the families to be successful.

For this report, produced by World Vision Albania &Kosovo (WVA&K) to show progress towards its National Strategic Objectives and related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) objectives,data were collected from the 11 Areas in which WVA&K implements its programmes. More than 8.000 respondents were involved in the surveys between September and December 2015 to produce this report. October 2016

I was in Albania 5 years ago. I visited an urban community where there was a lot of poverty. I met with a group of women who had children with disabilities. They were really struggling to look after their children and to survive. One mother with a severely adult disabled son were suffering economically and her son would try to find some work every day to keep alive. She said sometimes he comes home and he says “I would rather have gone under a bus today than come home without work.�

Conny Lenneberg Regional Leader, Middle East and Eastern Europe, World Vision International The 2015 report on child well-being in Albania& Kosovo, launched last June, is really important because it highlights how extensive the level of violence is the children experience in their homes, schools and community. I think there is a something we all agree and that is that this is Unacceptable. We know what does it means to change that. What this report is showing is we had interventions which worked. The child protection system has been promised by the government many years ago and it has been quite disrupted by the recent

And I think when families have that level of need and the frustration the people feel, some of that violence can be understood. But we need to make sure that such needy families are missing some social support or safety because they love their children as much as everyone does. Violence is not just related to poverty. It is across all the spectrum. We can do more to help such families, so the level of frustration and despair can be elevated. Apart from that, I can highlight that the children must not be put in institutions. I do know that 80 percent of the children in institutions in Albania have parents. The latter have left their children there because they are reported either not to care for them or because of violence. So, it is important to make sure that these children are placed with good families and the families can be supported, so the children can live with them. 71


We are working to make the dining experience at the Palazzo increasingly linked to the seasonality of products offering complete menu from appetizers to desserts that varies every quarter. 72

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What is so special about PALAZZO Italia? Why people should choose it over the others in Tirana? All Italians and Albanians who have lived, in Italy , come to greet us. Not just to eat and enjoy the cuisine, Not only for the wonderful Location, Not only to breathe the air of the house. We tried to offer our customers with the choice of a few dishes and excellent , taste , culture and tradition of Italian cuisine. October 2016

All prepared with products "Made in Italy" and skillfully composed, to give the feeling of eating as in Rome. Tirana offers a lot of choice to eat and eat well. Choosing Palazzo Italia is like choosing where, how and when to eat really Italian food, we invite you to try. 73


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What are the top culinary influences of PALAZZO Italia? Surely the Roman cuisine has influenced many of the decisions regarding both the dishes to be served and the choice of products that make up the chef's creations.

What are some of the new dishes you’ve been working on? We are working to make the dining experience at the Palazzo increasingly linked to the seasonality of products offering complete menu from appetizers to desserts that varies every quarter.

Name three of dishes a first time diner at PALAZZO Italia should try? The carbonara is absolutely our most sought-for Specialty. In fact, it is created in the traditional way, with bacon and pecorino romano.

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Got any easy recipes for our readers? FLAN WITH CARROT AND GINGER WITH PARMIGIANO CREAM Ingredients: Serves 6: 350 g. carrots 2 eggs - 50 gr. Parmigiano cheese 100 ml. of liquid cream - salt - butter extra virgin olive oil (a pinch of powdered ginger optional). For the sauce: 100 ml. of cream - 100 ml. milk 40 grams. parmesan. In a pan, braise the carrots cut into slices with a little olive oil. Salt. After they have browned a bit ', cook them adding a little' of water at a time. Once dry the water and cooked carrots extinguish the fire. In the glass and blender, blend the carrots and add cream, cheese, (possibly the ginger) and 2 whole eggs. After that everything is well mixed, butter 6 cups and distribute the compound. Place the cups in a baking dish in which we put nice hot water and a piece of paper towel between the cups and the tin. Bake at 180 ° for 25 minutes or until the flan is detached from the baking cups. Minutes from cooking flan, prepare the

fondue with the cream, milk and Parmesan. Bring to a boil and boil until it thickens the sauce. Turn out by inverting the cups and pour a nice spoonful of Parmesan cheese sauce. Serve. P. S. The chef said to try the flan with any other vegetables that are delicious all the same! I'd recommend artichokes and zucchini.

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PALAZZO ITALIA është restoranti juaj me 100 % guzhinë Italiane dhe piceri tipike Napoletane e Romane. Pallati përbëhet nga një restoranti i brëndshëm, oborri që shërben si Bar-Restorant, si dhe nga i vetmi oborr vertikal i brëndshëm në Tiranë. Gjithashtu nga një klub ku zhvillohen evente me muzikë si dhe festa të të gjitha llojeve.

OBORRI I JASHTËM Paradite mund të shijoni mëngjesin në stilin Italian, me ekspresin e zgjedhur, brioshet e freskët dhe lëngjet e frutave të freskëta. Gjatë drekës mund të shijoni guzhinën e shpejtë që në muajt e ngrohtë gatuhet si një Show Cooking perpara jush në mënyrë që të hani dhe me sy.. Darka e transformon oborrin në një ambjent romantik.

RESTORANTI i Palazzo Italia ofron guzhinën tipike Italiane me produkte 100% të importuar nga Italia. Kujdesi në zgjedhjen dhe përgatitjen e lëndëve të para si dhe shërbimi i kujdesshëm e bën restorantin zhjedhjen ideale për drekën apo darkën tuaj. Mund të zgjidhni te hani Brenda në sallën e ngrohtë ose në oborrin e saj në mes të gjelbërimit.

KOPËSHTI I VARUR I BRENDSHËM është më shumë se një restorant. Në një ndër sallat e brëndshme të pallatit është kopshti i varur, i vetmi në Tiranë me këtë karakteristikë. Gjatë muajve të ngrohtë çatia e sallës hapet duke bërë që të keni ndjesinë që jeni jashtë në mes të gjelbërimit sikur të ishe në një ndër rrugicat e vjetra të Italisë.

VERANDA E BRENDSHME ndodhet direkt mbi sallën e madhe, e rezervuar e cila shërben si vend ekskluziv për darkat apo koktejet tuaja. Pozicioni i privilegjuar përballë dhe mbi kopshtin e varur dhe afër çatisë që hapet në muajt e ngrohtë, e bën këtë kënd të Palazzo Italia vëndin më të kërkuar.

ICLUB një ndër ambjentet më të frekuentuar të Palazzo Italia, shërben si salla ku organizohen eventet më elegante të lokalit. Ambjenti është i pershtatshëm për festa të ndryshme si ditëlindje, darka familjare ose punë si dhe eventet tona të programuara me DJ ose Muzikë Live. Na ndiqni në rrjetet sociale për të parë eventin e rradhës!

TAVOLINA NR. 1 - BALLKONI MBI OBORRIN E JASHTËM, ky kend i mrekullueshëm e romantik i cili mund të prenotohet për mëngjesin, drekën apo darkën tuaj më intime. Pozicioni i privilegjuar mbi rrugën dhe i rrethuar nga gjelbërimi do e bëjë pushimin tuaj këtu të paharrueshëm. Ju Mirepresim!

+355 69 959 7318 palazzoitalia2015@gmail.com Rruga Mustafa Matohiti, Tirana #terrugicaesales

#terrugicaesales


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA MARKETING

BIO of Scott Goodson Scott Goodson (born 20 September 1963) is a marketing strategist, creative director and advertising executive. He is the founding partner of advertising agency StrawberryFrog headquartered in New York City. Goodson started his advertising career in Stockholm, Sweden, launching Bjorn Borg’s fashion line and is of a group of marketers who emerged from the Swedish advertising industry in the late 1980s and 1990s. His peers include other Swedish creative thinkers who have broken out on the world stage. The inventiveness and visual style of this marketing did much to shape the evolution of contemporary advertising. Goodson and his cofounder Karin Drakenberg moved to Amsterdam in the late 1990s to start StrawberryFrog with the launch of the small two-seat smart car as their founding client along with IKEA and Ericsson Smart Phones, the world leader at the time. “We built the agency around an open-room principle. From this platform emerged speed, friendship, respect and all the important things that are needed to make it happen. Our office is housed in a large open space in the penthouse of a building on Madison Avenue and it allows us to work with a lot of motivation, inspiration and knowledge because it’s all-open and everyone is mixed together. Everyone knows and appreciates each other’s work and if anyone is called away of feeling ill someone can come in and keep the process going,” says Scott Goodson, co-founder of StrawberryFrog.

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View from the StrawberryFrog HQ in New York

The sensational project on Albania’s Branding Has ‘Paused’ Scott Goodson: “My team heard only that the project was paused” By Rudina HOXHA

Not any steps have been taken towards the project on the branding of Albania, which was sensationally made public in 2014 in Albania. This is confirmed by Scott Goodson, the CEO and Founder of StrawberryFrog, the ad company which alongside with APCO Worldwide, won the competitive pitch, organized by the Albanian government two years ago. The StrawberryFrog won with its global campaign entitled “Go Your Own Way”. The winner’s activity was supposed to include media relations, stakeholder outreach, digital and social media, advertising and a short film competition. But what was proclaimed to be the largest tourism campaign to date for Albania is only on the papers. “We have not done the campaign. It has not been produced thus there are no results,” Goodson states in an exclusive interview for “Follow Business.” Asked how the Albanian government has justified that, the 53 year –old experienced marketing strategist responds “My team heard only that the project was paused.”

In 2014, StrawberryFrog won a competitive pitch process conducted by Albania. You took over the developing and deploying international ad and marketing campaigns geared to boost knowledge of Albania and the country’s vast touristic offers. What has been the response so far? After StrawberryFrog was appointed to lead the work in a competitive pitch, the project stopped and we only developed initial strategic work. We have not developed any cultural movement or advertising or communications for this project as we have done for other destinations such as Dubai: https://youtu.be/p9ZIMyQagLg October 2016

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Has the so-called “Go On Your Own Way� campaign giving any fruits? We have not done the campaign. It has not been produced thus there are no results.

So you mean the project has stopped, nothing has been done so far? Perhaps "Paused" is a better description as we remain ready to move forward.

Have you thought about a strategy on how to brand Albania worldwide while the country is currently suffering from a drug and corruption image? I am a big believer in creating cultural movements for brand which is explained in my book Uprising available on Amazon or in my Podcast also called Uprising which is free to subscribe to on ITunes

Please tell us about the latest innovation trends of StrawberrryFrog. What is the reason that it is still the number one in the field of marketing and brand issues? Are you using smart tourism branding?

Cultural Movement! Please listen to the Uprising podcast.

What has the Albanian government said about the 'pausing' of this project? How has the government justified that? My team heard only that the project was paused.

How can you describe your cooperation with the Albanian government? How does this cooperation work out?

Or the best selling book

Excellent at the start. They truly want to put Albania on the map, and so they should because it's a wonderful destination that the world should know about. 78

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September 2016

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What makes a good hotel? Good service and cleanness are most important. But of course a good hotel should be also nicely located and provide a memorableatmosphere.

Where do you like to spend holidays, in the city, on the beach or in the mountains? I prefer to spend holidays at the beach, but with the chance to visit an interesting city nearby as well.

What are your preferred destinations?

KNUT FLECKENSTEIN Albanians are great hosts!

Karpathos in Greece and Algarve in Portugal. I like Karpathos because of its beautiful beaches but also because it has preserved its naturalness despite growing tourism. That’s also a good example for Albania: The country’s natural attractiveness shouldn’t suffer from too much tourism.

What are your favorite hotels?

What was your last trip?

My favorite Hotel is the Alimounda Mare on Karpathos. I really enjoyed my stay there! The Hotel has an excellent service and is located in a quiet place while not being completely remote.

My last trip was actually to Karpathos!

What is never missing in your luggage? A good book!As a Member of European Parliament I have always a full time schedule and therefore not enough time to 80

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read for my own pleasure. I always look forward to read a good novel or an autobiography while on vacation. No political essays!

What is your way to combat jetlag? I try to stay active, by keeping walking and even partying. What is the country, which offered you a great experience and the worst one? One great experience has been my visit to Spain in 1992 where I had the chance to experience the Olympic Games. My worst experience was in Algeria in 1985 when I got lost while driving and nobody could or wanted to understand me.

Where should everyone go at least once in their life? I think everyone should have seen Lake Constance in Germany and New York City once. They are both good examples for two different spheres: beautiful and calm nature on one side and vibrant city life on the other.

Your favorite hotel in Albania? What do you feel about Albania anytime you visit this country? How would you characterize ‘Albania’ experience? My favorite hotel in Albania is the Sheraton Tirana. What really fascinates me about Albania is how friendly the people are. And they are great hosts!

For me Albania is a wonderful country with a lot of opportunities and with a lot of potential which will be developed step by step. October 2016

KNUT FLECKENSTEIN, 62, is a German politician who serves as an MEP for the Social Democratic Party of Germany since 2009. He has been the European Parliament’s standing rapporteur on Albania since 2014 and led an annual report on the country’s progress before. With special feelings for Albania and the Albanians especially for their hospitality, Fleckenstein has been very supportive of the opening of accession talks between Albania and the European Union. Recently he has often visited Albania to boost its political leaders in finding consensus over the approval of the reform in judiciary as an essential part of the five key priorities which the EU expects the country to fulfill before it will open negotiations.

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Jeannine Litmanowicz's Bio Born 59 years ago in Lima, Peru.Daughter of Lithuanian mother and Polish father, who grew up in France after WWII. Eldest child of 4, married to an Israeli and mother of 2 married daughters and grandma to Noam, a 2 year old smart boy. Attended the American High School in Peru, studied at the Sacre Coeur University in Lima Peru (UNIFE) – obtained a BA in Psychology and then moved to Paris, France, to pursue French Studies and graduated as French Literature and Civilization BA. Speaks perfect English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Hebrew, and can understand Arabic, and small conversational Yiddish and Catalan. Passionate about people, opera, cooking and gathering friends around her table, entertaining for crowds and enjoying life as it is. In love with the Balkan countries, where she might retire and start reading as much as she can after all these years travelling around, meeting people and making friends all around the world… After arriving in Israel in 1980, began working at the most prominent hotels in Jerusalem at the time: Sheraton and Hilton. After marriage obtained a job at the American Consulate General in Jerusalem and had a very good job with the most prominent diplomats at the time. After several years and being a young mother, left the Consulate for a few years in order to work for the Bezeq Telephone company, being 82

the President's Assistant and several other jobs in the communications field. Also, worked as PR person for such offices as the Israel Bonds, YadVashem Holocaust Museum and the Bank of Israel, amongothers. After several years, went back to the American Consulate General, as promised, but, as love conquers the hearts, her passion was, is and will be the tourism field. She took a Hebrew University course in Tourism while promoting her native country (Peru) and making unusual destinations aware to the Israeli public. Nowadays, engaged in her new project in the touristic field: "Be My Guest" travel experience, which is in the last part of preparations in order to launch the project in 2017, with some international partners and sponsors. She will make her dream come true: approaching people as people and selling destinations with the personal experience of meeting locals and share more than just a regular destination. Very strong contacts around the world, as well as her passion to cooking for crowds has made her realize that people meet locals and learn more than just visiting the destination… she will share her project with love and passion to other people and will expand to more and more countries around the world. You can make an appointment or visit her in Israel in order to be part of the "Be My Guest" project, which will approach the world in so many forms and connections… and love of life! October 2016


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- Recently you visited Albania for the first time. What were your major impressions about it? Were your expectations met? I met with Albanian Ambassador to Israel, Dr Bardhyl Canaj after his arrival to Israel and heard about your country. I must admit that this was my first real encounter with someone who spoke wonders of your country and I felt very curious to see it by myself. Ambassador Canaj told me about life in Albania, the folklore, the ancient sites and the people there, emphasizing the excellent food and wonders of the coast, and offered to arrange a trip to see your country with my own eyes... after that, I was anxious to see everything! I spent five beautiful days visiting most of your country, and, to say the least, I became in love with all what I saw and visited... not only was everything beautiful, nice and surprisingly welcoming, but it was an unexpected place to discover... you have a beautiful country!

During this private visit, you met with various Albanian tourism authorities. Can you make us a wrap up? My first encounter with Albanian authorities was excellent. I was greeted by top Tourist Authorities in various fields, and they were extremely professional, understanding the potential that there is to include Israel as one of the top markets to be introduced. The have the know-how in order to attract more tourists and have them explore Albania in the different areas that it can be shown and offered to most of our tourists. We could make Albania a top destination, once we can plan and offer the best of your country to our demanding crowd of travelers. Israel is about 8 million citizens, and the annual amount of Israelis

Tourist Expert: “Albania has been a great surprise in all aspects” For the first time, Jeannine Litmanowicz, an Israeli tourism expert, was in Albania for a week to see what’s like tourism in this not yet fully discovered country. Here are her impressions:

October 2016

Litmanowicz with the Albanian Ambassador to Israel, H.E. Bardhyl Canaj (L) and Director for Balkan States in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, Mr. Dan Oryan.

travelling abroad was over 5 million last year only... Israelis can be divided into several categories of travelers, but mainly family trips where they can find nature, attractions, shopping and feel secure. Families travelling abroad are big spenders and they can "adopt" a destination if all these are provided, and make it a returning destination for these clients. Another big market in our country is that of the senior citizens. This group is also a select market, they travel more than once a year, and their 83


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destinations are usually the near countries, where the can find cultural events, shopping and food. These travelers are big diners, enjoy from the freedom of not having to be subject to a work schedule and nowadays that travelling became more available, they spend their time doing so and enjoying life. My idea is that Albania could become a wonderful destination by all means to these groups, and this could also apply to other public. You have a lot to offer!

In your view, where should Albanian tourism authorities concentrate their focus? Since Albania is practically a new country to be explored, and being tourism such a huge area to attract tourists and improve the economy of the country, I think that the main emphasis should be to make it more available through the media in

other countries, to improve your PR abroad, like Ambassador Bardhyl is doing, for example.

Schools we ever visited, and it was really a place to be shown to the world about the quality you offer in the field.

A couple of nights ago, we arranged a broadcast transmission here in Israel, where Ambassador Bardhyl was the main guest, and we had 3 hours of fascinating stories about your country, the people, the history, your beautiful beaches, and... food!! We cannot ignore food, one of the main themes where it has become a top idea for most television shows around the world.

My suggestion is to focus on these parameters, a destination that could be seen from a culinary adventure that could attract foodies from all around the world and through their eyes and experiences, show what Albania has to offer from so many interesting points of view.

One of the highlights of my visit was the Neranxi International School of Cooking, where I was mostly impressed by the quality and the cleanliness of the school. We were greeted by the owner himself, Mr. Nikollaq Neranxi, who was extremely professional and Ms. Elena Rrapaj, who is the Director of the School. Our impression was that it is one of the best Culinary

You have extensively travelled even in other Balkan countries. How do you find Albania among them? Yes, I have travelled extensively all my life, from early times in South America and the whole continent, and through Europe during my younger twenties, but somehow, never made it to the Balkans... my mistake! And probably most of others, too! I have found wonderful countries, charming people, a vast culture in all of

View from the visit at Neranxi Culinary Institute in Tirana.

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them, peculiar, interesting places in each and every country... for me, Albania has been a great surprise, in all aspects, but especially, being the daughter of Holocaust survivors, I learned that the only country in Europe in which the Jewish population increased considerably after WWII was Albania. My special connection, tragically, to the Holocaust, makes me aware that if a small country, so humble and so honest as Albania did what they did in order to accept the refugees from other European countries and put their lives in danger in order to protect innocent people, I can only say that it made me feel as if I found a piece of God's Paradise among other nations. This, to my beliefs and own particular history, just adds to the many facets that Albania has to show about to people who will visit the country. And of course, Albania has many other assets soon to be discovered by future tourists.

You enjoy many significant connections in the world of business in Israel, US and further. What is your invitation to Israeli potential investors and tourists? In my humble opinion, a lot of investments could be offered to the market, and I believe your foreign service department might be enhancing this through their embassies around the world. During our visit I met with a young entrepreneur in Tirana, who was extremely knowledgeable of what your country has to offer, and in perfect, immaculate English gave us a vast explanation of how business is done in Albania. I believe people like him can be the best liaisons for foreign investors in order to get acquainted with the country's economy and investments. And once the first companies start investing, the others will follow.

What are your next plans? Will you continue your efforts to promote tourism between Albania and Israel? My next plans, as I am preparing a new joint venture in tourism, is emphasizing the Culinary Tours. I am now developing a platform that could be suitable for most countries, especially the Balkans, which will be implemented in order to attract food lovers, wine connoisseurs who will October 2016

also enjoy from a good opera performance, or a nice atmosphere in a secluded Riviera which has yet to be discovered (Saranda, in my opinion, could be the best destination for the Israelis!), where you can combine a relaxing vacation while attending some food and wine demonstration, and making day tours to some of the ancient sites that are UNESCO protected and can show the tourist the country and its history. My personal believe is that once the Israelis get to know Albania in its full potential, you can start learning Hebrew, so you will be able to connect with the Israeli customers in our own language! I plan to visit Albania many more times, especially with culinary expeditions, and I am positive about sharing this with other tour operators soon.

And besides that, I will conclude my interview with our Hebrew blessing: "Shalom", which means PEACE. We greet people and we say goodbye with this word. Shalom means peace, but it also contends the beauty of a warm "Hello" and a much meant "So long", meaning that, with God' Help, we will be saying Shalom many times during our next welcome and farewell from your country. 85


Tirana Business Park (TBP) is the largest german real estate, direct private investment in Albania. It is located only 2 minutes away from the International Airport „Mother Teresa“, in an area of 22 ha. By 2022, 17 buildings will be erected, with a total build up area of app. 176,500 m2 and 3600 parking spaces. TBP is divided in two main areas, PDA (Project Development Area) and RA (Resale Area), each of them 110.000m2. PDA will be dedicated for offices, retail space, commercial areas, shops, food, storage, internal and external parking spaces and supportive services while Resale Area will serve to any demand arising, so it is an area to be tailored to the needs of TBP’s customers. This ambitious, 100 million euro project is being implemented by Lindner Group of Germany. The Lindner Group is Europe’s leading company for interior fit-out, facade construction and insulation engineering with 50 years’ experience in ‘Building New Solutions’, the development and implementation of individual, high-quality project solutions, as well as developing successful business parks in Europe, such as, Business Park Sofia, Bulgaria and Galvaniho Business Center, Bratislava, Slovakia. The buildings express an attractive architecture, a new excellent working location; a concept of a city within the city and nearby the airport. It represents a genuine concept of urbanism, architecture, landscape, traffic and infrastructure for a premium business activity. At TBP sustainable architecture blends with nature, by bringing positive impact on users‘ work-life balance; at the same time, high priority is given to the service provided and the premise facilities and flexibilities. The first construction phase includes three buildings with a gross floor area of approx. 39,000 square meters. TBP’s Grand Opening took place on June 30, 2015. TBP is on its way to become one of the hot spots in Southeast Europe, by bringing together industries, enterpreneurial models and creative impulses.


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA CULTURE

"Albania remains my beating heart and my pride" Hilda Maha is an Albanian designer who has earned fame over the years. Though she lives abroad, she admits that Albania has always been "the beating heart, the gut feeling, the strength and pride, the spark and the deepest root." The creative lady has high ambitions. "I am adding knitwear to the brand, amazing handmade lace and a capsule of couture garments. More openings internationally and also Beijing fashion week," Maha said in the following interview with "Follow Business Albania."

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Initially I am really interested in your great mixed background of Albania, Italy and UK. Please tell us how this connection stands and how did this impact your career? I came to Italy with my family as a child 26 years ago then I moved to London for my university studies at Central Saint Martins for several years and came back to Italy afterwards. They each play a huge role in me both as a person and as a designer.

How do you refer in your daily work to the rich Albanian folk costume tradition and your old family photography from your aristocratic family history going back to the year 1280? I love them, I look at them specially through old photos, try to understand them and the history behind them that is the expression of a rich and sophisticated culture. It's not only about folk costume, it's everything, from objects to accessories, from art to archealogical discoveries, books, legends, nature, architecture and music and more. They all have much to say, it's a language i translate, then incorporate in a new language, in contemporary fashion so it starts a new life in our time to transport it to the future. Fashion is expression, what I try to do is to convey cuture and thoughts with my brand, get people to know it, show another point of view while doing something useful that is not simply pretty but is infused with meaning also.

London was the consolidation of my passion for fashion and my education, training and structure in it, the buzz, the freedom of expression and enthusiasm, so I design like a Londoner. Italy is my every day, my taste, the eternal beauty and sophistication, it's the eyes I see the world with and how I percieve reality. Albania has always been the beating heart, the gut feeling, the strength and pride, the spark and the deepest root.

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What was the major motivator that got you interested in designing? Do you have a model you follow? My family says i started drawing very early, they have plenty of episodes to tell, i would decorate everything i could get my hands on with any mean even before I started walking and speaking, that instinct was somehow born with me and in me. Growing up i started to have a preference in female figure drawing with lots of details in the garments and accessories, i made up fantastical worlds and stories for each and every one of them and drew the garments to fit with the story. Somehow is still the same process but on a larger scale, every collection now is a development of a story I want to tell.

would enjoy wearing, i have always wanted to have special pieces that are different, that give me an emotion, I don't necessarily want to do something simply because it's “in fashion� or popular. The same goes for my work, i don't want to run after the market's diktat in order to sell more while doing more copies of the same thing. That is not what I stand for. The whole huge body of work behind every collection from the initial research to the last finishing details follow the same philosophy, so the final result is naturally different and that makes the woman who wears it stand out from the crowd. I do not have specific celebrities on my agenda but a contemporary woman with

In both cases what i ask and try to understand is who they are. What is their identity, what do they stand for, what message they try to convey and what their strengths and weaknesses are, i then try to get them across through my design bearing in mind the desire and use of the client, it applies to every field i have experienced so far although it's not always an easy task.

What activities and hobbies do you enjoy when you're not designing? I am naturally a very curious person so i do have many interests, the list would be quite long but just to name a few, i enjoy travelling and exploring new places and cultures, i like reading and visiting exibitions and art galleries, i am constantly getting my hands dirty and trying all sorts of arts and crafts and media, then i apply them freely out of their usual fields and contests, love that element of surprize. I wouldn't say i have a specific figure or model I follow, i have an idea of a woman which has been forged and molded by the amazing women I have been lucky enough to have in my life and what I have experienced. It's not as much a physical ideal, it has more to do with personality, mind, character, strength, passion, attitude, culture and dedication.

Why do you think your clothes make women stand out from the crowd? Who are the celebrities who are on your agenda? As a womaniI also design for garments I 90

curiosity and attitude who doesn't let the outfit wear them, they wear it. At the same time i want my garments to be enjoyed, worn to pieces and be then part of memories in somebodies life not to be only used as a medium of an artistic expression.

As much unsettling as i am with everything else i tend to be a traditionalist when it comes to my loved ones, spending time with my friends and family is very important to me, they are my rock, they keep me grounded, remind me of the joy of simple things and what is ultimately worth living for.

What is the most important question you ask when first meeting with a client to discuss a new design or project?

Undoubtedly Albanians are waiting for you. When do you intend to organize a fashion show in Tirana? Do you have any cooperation with any Albanian textile brand?

I work for my brand and i do have private customers, i also work as a freelance sometimes for other brands, in the fashion field and not.

Before graduation in London, during my stage year, i took part as a special guest with a capsule collection in the very first edition of Albania Fashion Week. October 2016


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I then went back to London for my final year and the final exam for graduation we had to produce a capsule collection completely up to our liking. I have always preferred to create my own material, from prints to embroideries to all the rest as much as possible. For my graduation collection which was inspired by Albanian traditional folk custome i had the plain fabrics entirely made in a tiny factory in Shkodra on the old traditional textile frames run by women, i absolutely loved the result but it was a titanic effort in many ways with me being present until the final result was achieved, it was very time consuming. I am running samples with a few factories in Albania and am constantly looking for new ones, it is my desire to be able to use them in my collections and production but this will happen only when i am completely satisfied with the final result, it will take time, specially because i am not physically in Albania due to my work schedule, but it will get there. October 2016

The same goes for the fashion show, i want it to have the right contest, i have a few ideas in mind and i'd like to carry them out as true as possible to my vision which is not an easy task.

What’s next for your fashion to combat the keen competition in this field? I have many projects I am following at the present, i can't speak openly about some of them but exciting things are happening, for instance i am adding knitwear to the brand, amazing handmade lace and a capsule of couture garments.

More openings internationally and also Beijing fashion week. Stay tuned! 91


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Hungary: The Land of Spas Geology: A visit to Hungary allows a unique combination of rich cultural experience with medical, health or wellness treatments. Relaxing in warm water, rich in curative minerals in beautiful surroundings and with the prospect of massage, mud treatments and many other sorts of special treatment, is a rare luxury that you can easily afford here in Hungary!

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The key to Hungary's thermal culture is its location on the Carpathian Basin. The earth's crust is very thin here, allowing water to rise easily to the surface. Thus it is a land of more than 1,000 hot springs. Since ancient times, and all though the History of Hungary, the hot water bubbling up all across this region has been put to good use for its beneficial effects. The ancient Romans prized the healing effects of Hungarian thermal October 2016


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waters and developed bathing culture in Hungary more than 2000 years ago. During the Turkish occupation in the 16th century, the Turks added their own beautiful Turkish Baths, some of which are still in use today.

themselves asAquaparks, (though they all feature thermal water pools). Some Spas in Budapest are housed in beautiful old buildings in Classical or Turkish style dating back anything from 100 to 400 years have become famous as tourist attractions in their own right. Aquaworld Resort, the biggest indoor water theme park in Central Europe is located in the outskirts of Budapest, while the largest spa complex is located in Hajdúszoboszló. Another larger-than-life phenomenon is Lake Hévíz, a real natural phenomenon with an average yearly average water temperature of 25 °C (77 °F ). This is the largest biologically active thermal lake in Europe. Tourists also enjoy the phenomenon of swimming in a huge, warm lake, even on the coldest winter day!

Gellert Baths Pool

Where to find them: Spas are located in big cities and smaller towns throughout the whole country. Some are simple thermal baths serving the local community, others are larger commercial baths. All the major spas and baths in the country offer thermal pools, leisure pools and some kind of family fun areas (kids' pools or slides of all lengths and shapes) and some count

Rudas Baths

Hungarian spa hotels also offer cosmetic and beauty treatments of the highest quality, combining the beneficial effects of healing thermal water, professional know-how and the latest treatment trends. There are also successful Hungarian beauty products and treatments, which are based on natural active ingredients (mineral-rich thermal waters and mud).

More information, inspiring photos, videos and tips for your trip to Hungary, please visit gotohungary.com

October 2016

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Unforgettable Festival in the City of ‘1001 Windows’ The multicultural festival of Berat, held for three days (21-23 July, 2016) managed to turn the city, protected by UNESCO since 2008, into the epicenter of Albanian music, art, culture, heritage and tourism. For the third year, the stone alleys of the Berat city echoed by the foreign languages of the various tourists who rushed to the city to enjoy a rich cultural-artistic program. It was the Organization “Njerez dhe Ide” (“People and Ideas”) which made this festival possible. Most of the concerts and performances were staged at the city’s pedestrian street, a gift by the AlbanianAmerican Development Fund, which naturally merges with the local historical alleys and buildings. On the other hand, a series of training sessions by the French and Albanian stone workers contributed to the reconstruction of one of the local characteristic alleys. This was another considerable effort to raise the awareness about the preservation of tradition and the promotion of Berat as an undisputable tourist destination.

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October 2016


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Follow Business Albania October - 2016  

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Follow Business Albania October - 2016  

FBA is targeted toward top-level decision makers and executives, private investors, opinion leaders, and high potentials. FBA offers exclus...

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