Kerkoj: an Emerging Online Marketplace
Ardijana Rexhaj, a diaspora returnee from Norway, started Kerkoj—an emerging Kosovo online marketplace. She is here to stay and to make buying or selling new and used items online an extraordinary experience for Kosovar people.
Stories from the Balkan region often mention people leaving and looking for opportunities to develop their businesses in Western Europe and the USA. Often doesn’t mean always and this story is about bucking the brain drain trend: Ardijana Rexhaj found her business opportunity in Kosovo, and returned from Norway to pursue it.
Have you ever tried to find something to buy or sell but couldn't find the right marketplace? Have you ever searched for a specific product online, and got no results?
This is precisely the situation that Ardijana Rexhaj was in a couple of years ago. She used to live in Norway, and she and her family wanted to purchase real estate in Kosovo, but they couldn't find anything online. Driven by a desire to resolve this problem, Ardijana moved back to Kosovo in late 2019 to explore how to make her idea a reality.
We all know what happened in 2020 with the global pandemic. Ardijana describes it as a pretty challenging time for her, but also as one of the most rewarding:
I have always been a very driven person who wants to do the absolute best in everything and succeed in creating something useful, having the recognition and acknowledgment of my peers. However, what I consider the most significant success so far is a combination of different hurdles I have overcome along the way. It was a success that I managed to stay in Kosovo throughout and after the pandemic without a job, investing what I could into a new project, and adapting after leaving the country I grew up in and my closest family members and friends.
Luckily, the new project started blooming, and grew into what is now Kerkoj. Translated from Albanian, "kerkoj" means ask, request, and seek, and this is what this platform is about—it's a marketplace where you can seek or offer the things you want to buy or sell.
However, with growth came new considerations. Ardijana explains:
We are constantly improving and finding new and better ways to tackle the industry and setting the strategy for the future growth of the marketplace here in Kosovo. However, there are different challenges as the company is still very new, and people have yet to familiarize themselves with Kerkoj.com.
With the help of a strong team and community that supports her (she is a member of Women Entrepreneurs Kosovo), Ardijana is in good company. Not to mention, getting to work with a few Swiss EP experts and gain valuable inputs:
It's incredible what these conversations have done for me. The experts were fantastic and successful people open to talking and hearing all about you, your journey, and the company you are running. They were fearless in having tough conversations with you to make you dig deep to find out if this was something you could/wanted/were ready to manage.
As one of the participants in Women Entrepreneurs Week 2023, Ardijana had an entire week in Zurich to learn from different Swiss EP experts and to spent time with her peers from all over the globe.
The next goal for Kerkoj is to put down roots in the Kosovo market and reach out to more customers. Improving the team, the platform, and the overall business is a big task for the future, but they have the capacity and motivation to make it happen.
On top of that, Ardijana has her own recipe for success:
Make sure you are good with people, smart with money, and know when to give in or give more.
We couldn’t agree more.