By Albana Mucaj, Editor in Chief Businessmag.al and founder of Kallz, Multifunctional Center
The women of the Western Balkan region are vibrant, dynamic, and independent. Whether they choose to stay at home or have a career, they take every opportunity afforded to them, whilst at the same time remaining a central pillar of their household. Albanian women resemble other females around the world, and yet they are truly unique. Albanian society is changing, and women are leading that change by capturing every moment to develop themselves and their ideas.
Just as in the media, in entrepreneurship too, women can easily take a leading role in Albania to demonstrate their competencies and their abilities to find solutions to societal problems. Yes, they face challenges, those linked to the additional household burdens and care responsibilities, and of course, the lack of access to financing their enterprises, and traditional stereotypes that seek to restrict their freedom, but Albanian women are formidable women and strong in the corporate world.
Expectations are high, but these women do not disappoint. Whilst many inspirational stories of success still remain in the shadows, slowly and consistently, the media is now showcasing and highlighting these brilliant women as role models. Albanian Women are famous for their high IQ, their high-level education degrees, and ambitions. They have managed to achieve success in all four corners of the globe and in all sectors of the economy. Sharing their stories, their tales of triumphs and failures, and rags to riches, these women underpin the changes in Albania and the promotion of entrepreneurship as an opportunity for women across the Western Balkans.
As a journalist and editor-in-chief, I have written and talked about these great leaders, but now is the time to address the shortcomings that are preventing more female leaders from starting their own businesses. Access to finance is the strongest weapon for women, and yet the greatest barrier women face across the world, not just in the Western Balkans. Official data says that only 23% of enterprises in Albania are led by women, this is an economic opportunity on which the country is missing out. Whilst women are present as female Ministers within the government, there are many women and girls in society who still need capacity building and empowerment support so they too can achieve their potential.
In order to achieve economic and social prosperity for Albania and the region, we must increase productivity, recognizing that professional and emotional activities play a fundamental role in the growth and stability of an economy, and in the security, defense, and peace of the region. Thus, diversity and inclusion in all sectors are the keys to bringing the sustainability governments are now seeking. Women as entrepreneurs, as innovators, with their creative minds, putting their ideas into action, are a valuable part of the solution, but so are their children.
As for my part, having a long experience in media, I noticed that journalists, and businesswomen like me, women who also play a role as mothers (or have a mother’s role), are fighting on a daily basis to balance work, family, career, and home. Yet, I have also understood that despite these challenges, there is a huge sense of fulfillment in what we all do, and achieve, as women. Alongside it all, I have also realized the importance of investing in education, improving knowledge, and asking for assistance. Education is the key to what society needs the most. Gender equality will be accomplished only through qualitative and inclusive education, and it was due to this realization, that I took it upon myself to start an educational center for children.
Educating children and “lending a hand” to mothers, to support them in achieving a qualitative and attractive education for their children, resulted to me being faced with the biggest challenge I have ever undertaken. An educational center serves, not only as an environment where children can study in an after-school program, but where young people can develop new friendships, improve their social skills, and prepare for their career development with relevant learning.
Now six years at the center, we are working on communication programs, financial education for kids, a new e-learning platform, and many activities in soft skills development. All these skills are invaluable to today’s youth and tomorrow’s citizens of Albania.
My role as Editor-in-Chief of Businessmag.al, is to promote women's start-ups. I promote the entrepreneurship environment and the women in it. I support them in connecting, profiling, marketing, and creating synergies. These women are my inspiration, and now all I want is to do the same with my students and young people in education. As an Albanian woman, I am honored to take up the challenge.