In developing countries such as the Western Balkans, entrepreneurs who bring innovation to the market make a key contribution to the economic development process.
Innovative entrepreneurship has a tremendous role to play in the sustainable development of the economy. When the unemployment rate is high and the economy has stagnated, entrepreneurship can help the economy and reduce unemployment by developing innovative products. Therefore, developing countries such as the Western Balkans, entrepreneurs who bring innovation to the market make a key contribution to the economic development process.
Kosovo’s economy is still highly dependent on remittance inflows and donor activities. Moreover, the Covid-19 pandemic has hit Kosovo’s economy hard. According to KAS data, since the beginning of the pandemic, the employment rate has dropped from 29.1% to 24.1%, and the unemployment rate has risen from 25% to 27.2%. According to a study by the GAP Institute, 198,000 jobseekers were registered in the first seven months of the Covid-19 pandemic, most of the jobseekers were in the 25-39 age group.
While high unemployment and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have caused severe economic crisis, innovative entrepreneurship is seen as an incentive to increase employment and economic empowerment especially among young people. In Kosovo there are several examples of how innovative enterprises have managed to enter the business sector. A unique example of innovative entrepreneurship is “SPECTRA” in Prizren. An innovative, multidisciplinary company operating in the fields of Sustainable Architecture, Information Technology, Circular Economy and Education, which was founded during the pandemic by two young women Premisa Arapi and Primesa Arapi.
Premisa and Primesa are two sisters who completed their studies abroad and returned to Kosovo with the idea of opening a business that is innovative, but which focuses on environmental protection. Through the provision of their services they raise awareness among consumers on how the environment should be protected. SPECTRA’s initial idea was to build a national basis for sustainable development, digitization of daily practices and environmentally friendly production. Through the field of Sustainable Architecture, SPECTRA offers services for green architecture / ecological design, energy efficiency calculation in existing and planned buildings, and all production materials offered to their customers are recyclable.
Meanwhile, through education courses, SPECTRA offers career guidance and planning. Thus they have managed to gather around themselves many professionals from different fields by installing another form of business that offers several services at the same time, contributes to more sustainable economic development and promotes efficient energy conservation solutions. This example shows how a business with some innovative ideas can emerge as an alternative in the job market.
Beyond the many problems faced by businesses in Kosovo – especially during the pandemic period – innovative entrepreneurship plays an important role in the development of the country’s economy. Moreover, it can also be an important step in preventing young people and educated people from leaving the country, creating innovative spaces to practice their profession. It is therefore very important to build sustainable institutional policies that support innovative ideas.
Adelina Hasani is a human rights activist and gender expert