Sejdi Kryeziu no. 54, Pejton Place Prishtina, Kosovo
Kosovo is a small landlocked country located in the Western Balkans, and whose population is the youngest in Europe, with an average age of about 30.2 years. In 2019, the country’s population stood at about 1.8 million people, with a GDP of US$8 billion and a GDP per capita of $4,458. According to the World Bank (2019), Kosovo’s economic growth was estimated at 4.2%, positioning it as one of the fastest-growing economies in the Western Balkans. The main drivers of Kosovo’s growth include high public investments, service exports, and consumption – which is mainly supported by remittances from the diaspora. Services represent the largest sector in the economy with a share of value-added at more than 50% of the country’s GDP, followed by industries representing 17.5% and agriculture representing 8.72%.
Despite the significant economic strides, Kosovo continues to face a number of challenges that impede its ability to realize its full economic potential. Among them are the high emigration rates due to lack of formal jobs – particularly for women and youth – infrastructure bottlenecks, gender gaps in access to economic opportunities, and weak governance and rule of law – which allows for the existence of unfair competition, corruption, and informal governing structures. In addition, while Kosovo continues to grow at rates higher than the Western Balkan average, it remains the third poorest country in Europe in terms of GDP per capita.
High remittances, however, continue to fuel local economic growth and the establishment of SMEs. In 2018, the Agency for Business registration in Kosovo reported that in 2003, there were approximately 50,000 registered businesses and that number rose to approximately 160,000 in 2016, the majority of which are SMEs. According to the ERBD, SMEs make up over 99% of all registered businesses in Kosovo and are responsible for close to 75% of the country’s total employment. Women though remain largely underrepresented in businesses in Kosovo. For example, of the 54,412 registered businesses in Kosovo in 2013, only 3,301 (~6%) of them were owned by women.
CEED Kosovo has been active for close to a decade and has remained an important part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Kosovo. The CEED Center there has partnered with multiple donors to deliver a number of programs supporting youth, women, and rural entrepreneurs. Projects have ranged from establishing a local farmers market in Prishtina to providing mentoring and training to entrepreneurs trying to establish new enterprises. As of 2019, the center had 48 active members, 48% of which are women-owned, and over 100 enterprises and entrepreneurs from the community involved in programming.