What problems does Sapientify give solutions to?
Sapientify is the first Albanian online platform dedicated to foreign languages services. We have tried to point out and work on our students’ needs on learning a foreign language since 2018. During these 3 years, we have developed lots of different methodologies and materials that have made the process of learning easier and more approachable. We have been expanding also in the B2B sector offering personalized language solutions to the staff and employees through live sessions, video courses, presentations, etc
How did your interest in this field begin? What was the initial push?
In January of 2018, I was left in bed almost paralyzed for about 4 months, not knowing whether I would walk again or not. At the time, besides teaching in a language center and translating I was also working as an online English teacher for a foreign online platform. After my health problem, my online classes were the only thing left to bring me some revenue to support myself. There is where I had the feeling that there were many more teachers or experts out there in Albania that might need to work remotely. That motivated me to open Sapientify- a community where students and teachers from anywhere in the world can get together for the same goals!
What has changed and how have things changed since the beginning?
In the beginning, it was a platform that invited all experts from all fields of expertise, but then we saw that Albanians abroad were more interested to learn the foreign language of the country they live in whether for integration, work, or ensuring the appropriate documentation. Therefore, we switched our attention to foreign languages only trying to provide everything people needed to integrate successfully in all aspects of life, through language learning.
What are the biggest obstacles you faced in developing a business?
The biggest obstacle we faced at the beginning was skepticism. People were skeptical and puzzled on deciding whether they should trust us or not- having only online services. Then with the pandemic, there was increasing interest and trust. The second obstacle was finances- I can thank my friends and family for their support, well also the bank for the loan (hahaha). So, as you can imagine it has all been self-funded so far, and being a startup, and a woman-preneur brought some ups and downs along the way.
How has your activity grown over the years?
Several things have changed since the beginning of Sapientify.
- We have had a positive growth of our students (in quality and number)
- We have created personalized video courses for self-study.
- We are negotiating to make possible employment for our students abroad, through agreements with different companies.
- We now are an accredited test center for the international English ESOL exam.
- Now we have not only Albanian students, but also foreigners.
How much were you affected by the pandemic and where did it have the most harmful effect specifically?
The pandemic brought an expansion of online services, which means that there were competitors now. There was also a problem with the payments because most offices and institutions were closed and this created difficulties in proceeding with the payment. Having here into consideration that most of our students used to live abroad made it more difficult.
What are your future plans?
There are several future goals that we want to meet in our company:
- Creating employment opportunities for our students who live abroad or want to go abroad.
- Collaborating with different organizations and Albanian diaspora.
- Starting to teach the Albanian language for foreigners
- Scaling in the international market. The majority of our students are Albanians, but we are growing in number even with foreign students.
- Opening an online shop dedicated to different educational language materials.
How much and how has the fact of being a woman in business affected you?
Ask men first if they mind or not having a woman as their boss (hahaha). We all know it’s difficult to thrive, especially in a small country that went out of communism only two decades ago, and women were mainly considered good only at doing housework and raising children. But I am happy to see that the community of women entrepreneurs is growing and getting stronger!
Do you have any advice for young women who want to engage in business or further develop their careers?
- First of all, STOP LIMITING YOURSELVES! You are not what your parents, husbands, neighbors, or other people think of you. You are who you want/aspire/desire to be and never sacrifice that for the aim of fitting into society. Always remember that the ones who made history were not who you would consider NORMAL.
- Always spend your time with those people who share the same goals as they will encourage you to succeed when others try to pull you down.
- Take that change, DARE to try, do your very best, do not give up, HAVE FUN in the process and always remember to celebrate small victories! Because it is the journey that is worth enjoying, not the result, you will eventually get there. I am one of you if I could make it, so can you all!