Bajram Kelmendi no. 34, Loc 1
10000 Prishtina, Kosovo
Kosovo is a small landlocked country located in the Western Balkans, and whose population constitutes the youngest population in Europe, with an average age of about 30.2 years. In 2018, the country’s population stood at 1.8 million people, with a GDP of US$7.6 billion and a GDP per capita of $4,1081. According to the World Bank, (2018) 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 includes 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 others, 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.
However, high remittances 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. The Agency added that, 85% of the businesses in 2016 were registered as individuals, 2.44% as general partnerships, and 11.28% were registered as Limited Liability Companies5.
Women 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 donor to deliver a number of programs that provide support to businesses of all sizes.