For Immediate Release
A monthly mixer has quickly become a must-attend event for young entrepreneurs seeking to build relationships, share knowledge and hear from experts (and live bands) in a relaxed and congenial atmosphere.
USAID and another international partner organized the first Rock Entrepreneurial Monday in late 2012. From the get-go, the events have routinely drawn more than 100 up-and-coming business owners.
Each evening highlights a specific topic of interest to the start-up community. The most recent, held February 11 at a popular Pristina nightspot, focused on women in business. Three female business owners representing a boutique chocolatier, non-profit food processing cooperative and a medium-size electronics firm shared their experiences.
“As women, we should use any opportunity that presents itself,” Bleta Zeqiri, who owns a small chain of chocolate shops in Pristina, told the crowd. “On the other hand, women should share knowledge and help one another, too.”
Later, a question-and-answer session sparked a lively discussion that touched on gender discrimination, maternity leave policies, property rights and other issues. During interludes, the Albi Xhepi band played a mix of covers, including, fittingly enough for such an ambitious crowd, Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire.” USAID has assisted the band with business training.
One participant, 26-year-old Liridona Muhaxhiri, said she showed up to compare notes with her peers on the challenges of starting up a business, including obtaining access to credit. Kosovo businesses face perennial challenges in obtaining financing.
“I want to learn from other people’s experiences,” said Muhaxhiri, who owns a printing and marketing firm in Gjakova/Djakovica, in southwestern Kosovo.
While the program provides technical and financial assistance to young entrepreneurs, it also seeks to create much-needed opportunities for networking and peer learning.
“Linkages—we all need them,” explained participant Valbona Thaqi-Bajqinca, 35, when asked why the Monday events draw so many people. “Plus, it’s a good time,” the private kindergarten owner added with a laugh.
USAID underwrites the cost of the events in collaboration with Innovation Center Kosovo, a Norwegian-sponsored program that shares the USAID goal of supporting entrepreneurship, business growth and jobs creation.
Last updated: February 26, 2014