The Macedonian e-Commerce Association: Bringing e-Commerce Closer to the Entire Region
After pawing the road to e-commerce in the country, AETM is going regional enabling CEFTA countries to benefit from their accumulated knowledge and experience. Marija Ristovska explains how AETM is doing that.
The Macedonian e-Commerce Association recently started two initiatives (“E-commerce for all” and the “Gender Equality Alliance - GEA”) to help the country and region develop e-commerce businesses further.
The Macedonian e-Commerce Association (AETM) aims to create a comprehensive e-commerce ecosystem in the country by supporting the interests of the e-commerce companies, contributing to general knowledge and education about starting and leading an e-business, and limiting the barriers that are hindering the growth of the e-commerce sector in North Macedonia.
The Association was founded in 2017 by Nina Angleovska, who is the Association's President. As one of the co-founders of Grouper.mk, a successful e-commerce startup acquired by Payten in 2021, Nina decided to start the Association together with 4 other businesses from the e-commerce ecosystem, to secure better conditions for all the companies working in this sector in North Macedonia. Today, the Macedonian E-commerce Association has grown in many different ways - the team working in the organization has expanded, the number of members has increased drastically, and we see more and more activities signed by the Association.
What was your motivation and the goals for starting with the E-commerce4all.eu web platform and the Gender Equality Alliance?
The motivation for starting new projects and initiatives comes mainly from the needs of the members of the Association and from the current global trends. E-commerce4all.eu is the first regional e-commerce web platform covering information presented in 5 e-commerce related modules for the 7 CEFTA markets - North Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, and Moldova. The web platform serves as a knowledge and resource center for information related to e-commerce in each of these markets - from providing access to relevant e-commerce data, to rules and regulations, to e-payment and delivery options. In addition, it helps all active and future e-sellers to better understand the state of e-commerce in their current market and to explore the possibilities for expansion to other regional markets. As for the Gender Equality Alliance, our focus is a bit different. The Alliance stands for an inclusive culture, equality in the workplace, and unlocking the powerful synergy between digitalization, women and e-commerce in North Macedonia. GEA initiative aims to promote equal opportunities, equal representation, and equal pay between genders in the workplace.
What has been the biggest challenge in your work so far?
The biggest challenges in our work are the low awareness for continuous education and the low digital skills of the population, for which we organize many educational events. Another challenge is the relatively slow implementation of the institutional changes in rules and regulations related to e-commerce.
What do you consider to be your most significant success?
The most significant success of the Association is the growing number of members year-to-year, the number of team members which is expanding and growing together, and the number of implemented initiatives. On top of that, many of our activities have become flagships and have been successfully run for a few years. For example, the Annual E-commerce Conference will be organized for the 5th time in November this year, we're regularly issuing the Annual comprehensive analysis of the state of e-commerce in North Macedonia and we are expecting to organize the Macedonian E-commerce Awards as a traditional contest and ceremony event in the e-commerce sector every year as well.
That's quite many things - well done. You have been working with a few Swiss EP experts. What was the main benefit you got from working with them?
Yes, we’ve organized a few trainings on various topics with the Swiss EP experts that have shared their valuable experience with the interested members of the Association. Some of them have also been keynote speakers at our Annual E-commerce Conference and shared their knowledge and expertise with more than 400 participants at the conference. We truly hope to continue our collaboration in the future as well.
We hope so too. So, what is next for AETM?
The preparations for the 5th jubilee e-commerce conference, which will take place in Skopje on the 11th of November 2022, the launch of the rest of the e-commerce related modules on the regional e-commerce web platform ecommerce4all.eu and the creation of the comprehensive annual e-commerce report on the state of e-commerce in North Macedonia.
That's amazing! We wish you much success and see you at the conference in November. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, Marija.