Rock Entrepreneurial Social

Nexhmije Ibishi (moderator) and speakers Linda Shala, Ola Syla, Bleta Zeqiri.
Nexhmije Ibishi (moderator) and speakers Linda Shala, Ola Syla, Bleta Zeqiri
USAID Young Entrepreneurs Program

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Faber, Jeremy

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: September 15, 2014

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