February 1, 2022 | Tuesday

VentureUP Creating new Opportunities for Kosovo’s Young Entrepreneurs

Despite completing university education, Kosovo graduate students often lack employable skills. Some of the main concerns of the private sector industry remain the lack of financial resources as well as qualified staff with the necessary skills for their jobs.

The project “VentureUP – University of Pristina Venture Incubator” supported by the European Union in Kosovo, provides students and startups the opportunity to develop job-creating businesses and increase their chances of meaningful employment in Kosovo.

Eroll Gorci, founder of the car-sharing platform ‘Udhe’, has benefited from the EU-funded project. Gorci says that the lack of sufficient resources is a huge barrier for young entrepreneurs to implement their innovative ideas. “At first, we did not know how to begin with our idea, and what should we do. Luckily, we have become part of the incubator at VentureUP, which was crucial for our team to continue with product development and reaching the current stage of our product’’ – says Gorci.

Eroll Gorci – Founder of ‘Udhe’

Thanks to the support received from the VentureUP project, today ‘Udhe’ has more than 20,000 members and has won the second prize at the second edition of the UPLIFT Acceleration program organized in Tirana. Apart from this, the online platform is contributing greatly towards the principles of circular economy, by reducing the number of cars in the traffic, and as a result lowering emissions and protecting the environment. 

The Entrepreneurship Support strand of the project, focuses on offering a broad range of resources and services that allows the University of Pristina students to develop and test business ideas, technologies, and innovations in all economic sectors. The Education and Training component, offers the University of Pristina students the opportunity to gain the necessary market demanded skills that will improve their employability chances upon graduation.

Mentor Rexhepi, Executive Director of the VentureUP, says that throughout its two components, the project is successfully managing to increase the capacities of the UP students and start-ups. “During the first incubation programme in 2019 there were seven startups with 23 team members (10 women) that completed the programme, of which, four startups are registered as legal businesses generating revenues and employing 15 people, of which five are women. Similarly, in 2020 there were 12 startups with 31 team members (19 women) that completed the second incubation program, as result of which, five of them are registered as legal businesses, generating revenues, and employing 18 people (10 women)” – says Rexhepi.

Mentor Rexhepi – Executive Director of ‘VentureUp’

Even though the pandemic has halted the work of many organizations, Rexhepi says that their second cohort was completely organized online, including 30+ training sessions, 50+ mentoring sessions, and hands-on coaching. Rexhepi mentions that during Covid-19 one of their startups, AXYZ, which offers 3D printing services, started printing face masks for free, for medical staff at clinics and other health facilities throughout Kosovo. Meanwhile, the third cohort of the project which started in 2021, has 16 teams with 48 members (22 female and 26 male) and offers five training sessions on entrepreneurship topics, each lectured by international experts. As the final output of the third cohort, thanks to the EU support, at least five new businesses are expected to be registered with at least 20 new employers, says Rexhepi. 

Rina Ademi, Ardit Mulliqi, and Endrina Ramadani were some of the participants of the Social Media Marketing (SMM) training program, and each of them describes it as a very valuable learning experience.