Women working at the Agri-food Community Centre AMC of Kçirë
  • Despite the economic growth of recent years, Albania remains a country with a very low employment rate, especially  in mountain and rural areas and particularly among women, young people, disabled people and ethnic minorities. About one-third of the population is engaged in informal activities, particularly in agriculture.

    Project’s objective: reducing the unemployment rate by strengthening food and wine and handicraft businesses in the north-western districts of Puke, Lezhis and Scutari.

  • 10 local micro-enterprises
    will have access to a wider market

    over 600 small producers
    will have stable employment and source of income

    at least 20 people belonging to disadvantaged categories employed in the supported enterprises

Vasil and Jana are two young Albanians who – like so many of their peers and so many before and after them – for lack of solid prospects for the future, decided to leave their native land to seek their fortune. After getting married they moved to Italy, where they studied and worked  with ceramist masters learning ceramic modelling, firing and painting techniques. But after a few years, they missed their families and the mountains of the village of Krajen too much. So they returned home and set up their pottery studio replicating, among other things, an ancient clay collection and separation system and using patterns derived from ancient Illyrian symbols.
They now run a successful family business that offers professional training to young people at the local Parish and seasonally employs a dozen young people.

Jana paints the terracotta artefacts made by her husband Vasil

Small craft and agricultural businesses struggle to survive in the market. Their closure means a loss of traditions and income.

In the northern region of Albania, which is mostly mountainous, a third of the population is engaged in informal and unpaid work, especially in the agricultural sector: women, young people, and ethnic minorities are those most excluded from the labour market.
The lack of real prospects for the future has led to the resumption of internal migration from the countryside to the cities, as well as to European Union countries, first of all Italy, so much so that remittances from abroad still represent the main income.

Albanian by Nature is a network of rural businesses set up in 2016 by CELIM and by ATO, the Albanian association of fair trade founded by CELIM the year before. The network has become a brand that certifies craft productions inspired by local traditions and made according to modern and European quality standards, that have positive effects on the involved communities and a low environmental impact.
To date four production businesses have joined the network, including Vasil and Jana’s ceramic studio: with this project we plan to involve at least six other ones. The predicted specific training and technical assistance will lead to a noticeable improvement of production in terms of quality and quantity, but also to a better management of businesses. More than 600 producers, including at least 20 belonging to disadvantaged categories, will thereby have greater job opportunities and sufficient income to maintain their families or to contribute towards it.
Additionally, the companies that joined the network will serve as positive models to be emulated and a driving force for local microeconomics. This new situation will discourage people from fleeing from the countryside.

Young people will see the recovery and enhancement of their country's agricultural and handicraft activities as a valid alternative to migration.

The Albanian by Nature shop in Tirana

  • My name is Alessandro Salimei, I am 37 and since 2007 I have been dealing with CELIM's activities in the Balkans.

Project’s overview

For the purpose of developing and completing what has been done in previous projects – from 2010 onwards – to strengthen the agri-food chains in rural and mountain areas of Albania, this project supports 10 small food-and-wine and traditional craft businesses that employ more than 600 producers, focusing specifically on people belonging to disadvantaged categories, helping improve the economic and social conditions of their communities.

  • training and assistance on production and processing techniques and for the achievement of the HACCP-hygiene, Biological and ISO-standard work safety certifications
  • training and organizational, managerial and administrative assistance based on the management model of social enterprises
  • training on marketing techniques
  • issuing of grants

Ultimate aim: promoting a virtuous model of rural enterprise that combines economic development with corporate social responsibility, certified by the Albanian by Nature quality brand, which is also the name of the shop opened in 2016 by CELIM and ATO in Tirana that sells traditional Albanian products that reflect these standards.

  • Project title
    Next practices in AgricolTUra sostenibile: impRese sociali agricole tra innovazione e tradizione in ALbania (N.ATU.R.AL.)

    Project Manager
    Alessandro Salimei, albania@celim.it

    Project Start Date
    July 2017/ June 2018

  • Partner
    Albania Today Organization – ATO

    Other entities involved
    Diocese of Sapa-Laç Vau Dejes and of Shkoder