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Women Entrepreneurs Kosovo—“Give First” as Motivation and Inspiration

Women Entrepreneurs Kosovo developed into a community that gathers over 25 active members, collaborating and supporting one another.

The Give First principle is helping Women Entrepreneurs Kosovo inspire their members to help each other, collaborate, and spread their impact to other communities and founders.

Changing the world is challenging, and who would know it better than a startup founder? And when a startup founder is a woman in one of the most traditional societies in Europe, she needs all the support she can get. And so, Women Entrepreneurs Kosovo (WEK) was born, as women founders in Kosovo joined forces, and started an informal community.

WEK has come a long way. Founded in 2020, it went from being a gathering of three women supporting each other to becoming a community with over 25 women founders sharing and doing business together.

Last time we shared a story about WEK, members were gathering around a common goal: to empower women in Kosovo to start and develop their own businesses. Today, the mission remains the same, but the work has become more complex, and includes regular meetups, joint workshops, and even weekend retreats.

Guided by the "Give First" principle, highlighted in Brad Feld's book The Startup Community Way, the group has become a genuine community, encouraging its members to give back rather than solely focusing on achieving their personal and professional goals. By providing resources, mentorship, networking opportunities, and other forms of support to other community members, individual founders help create a culture of collective learning, peer exchange, and confirming that there is, indeed, strength in numbers.

The community’s impact is spreading, to the benefit of the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem in Kosovo. Borebardha Mazreku, founder of Bardha's Cake, is one of the women embracing her role as a changemaker inspired by her peers:

Women Entrepreneurs Kosovo provided me access to a network of strong-minded and hard-working women. They inspired me to do more about my community and encouraged me to join forces with them for a greater socio-impact in Kosovo. As a recent returnee from living seven years abroad, I was happy to see that I am welcomed into a professional network and that my ideas are accepted. WEK is bringing a shining light full of open doors and opportunities to the entrepreneurial community in Kosovo.

Another notable example of the impact that WEK has in the country is the Founders Retreat in Brezovica ski resort in November 2022, which was organized jointly with Founders Network Kosovo, another informal community of entrepreneurs. The weekend of learning, networking, and exchange was led by Arta Shehu Zaimi (Labbox founder), and allowed members of both groups to bond, share experiences, and start new conversations.

In the past year, Swiss EP supported WEK through invited experts (8 experts in 2022), and staff contributions—Ecosystem Facilitator Arta Istrefi-Jahja and a staff member Betina Bojniku also facilitated some of the group's activities. As passionate supporters of women's entrepreneurship, Arta and Betina are glad to help.

Women Entrepreneurs Kosovo is here to stay, motivating, inspiring and strengthening the performance of female founders. As a direct consequence, these brave women are changing the world around them daily, at least in their home country. For now.