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Collaboration - the heart of a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem

Different Swiss EP Partner Organizations in Albania find a way to collaborate and support each other, making the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem unified and decisive.

Albanian entrepreneurial ecosystem suddenly flourished in the past few months. Despite difficult circumstances and restrictions caused by the global pandemic, the ecosystem and supporting organizations remain quite active.

A crucial moment in the rise of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and startup communities in Albania was establishing three new co-working spaces in Tirana: Coolab, Innospace, and Destil. They have all started with activities in 2019. They have gathered diverse and devoted audiences in a very brief time. With founders who have strong entrepreneurial traits, each co-working space developed a unique value proposition and specific style that made it distinctive. Innospace (with Emi Milo) is homey and cozy, Coolab (with our former colleague Arlind Haxhijaj) is industrial and tech-oriented, while Destil (with Sonila Abdalli) is targeting creative industry professionals.

Besides co-working spaces, we have also witnessed the creation of various communities and initiatives. One of the most prominent is the Women Founders Network Albania, which managed to gather a group of women founders who support each other in numerous ways - from doing business together to providing advisory and mentoring.

Adding Uplift Accelerator, a well-established support program for entrepreneurs, to the mix, we will see an even more versatile ecosystem emerging in Albania.

However, COVID-19 plays an essential role in this story, too. The global pandemic and complete lockdown of the country made most of the activities in co-working spaces impossible, community gatherings obsolete, and organization of support programs quite challenging.

Despite many difficulties, our story's actors found a way to keep the momentum and continue their work. They have started collaborating and supporting each other in different ways:

  • Coolab created an online platform for organizing webinars and managing online activities. They have made it available to all interested communities to use it for their activities instead of Zoom. Even the Swiss EP Albania team used it several occasions for supporting events.
  • Coolab also arranged their space according to all recommended safety measures. Therefore, other communities decided to hold live events in this space. Uplift organized a live info session here.
  • Women Founders Accelerator organized a bootcamp and a demo day at Coolab. Destil's Academy of Women Entrepreneurs used the space for their study visits.
  • Other co-working spaces followed the example of Coolab, and soon, Innospace could offer the same level of service. The Academy of Women Entrepreneurs organized another visit to this place. Uplift chose Innospace as a venue for its bootcamp in October.
  • Coolab gathered all the ecosystem actors during the Global Entrepreneurship Week, where they jointly celebrated and showcased entrepreneurship in Albania.

Key people running co-working spaces, communities, and programs made a unique community and a support group. They enforced knowledge and experience sharing on the ecosystem level.

Needless to say, Swiss EP was involved in one way or another with most of these activities—either through the assistance of our experts or the advice of our team members in Tirana.

The crisis is a factor that destroys economies and ruins businesses. Still, it is also a force that makes people collaborate and find different ways to overcome challenges together. And that is quite visible in the example of the Albanian entrepreneurial ecosystem. It is our pleasure to be a part of such mindset change and development by a few organizations.