The Albanian Entrepreneurship Academy, a partnership between Medaille Trust, Ethical Good and nine NGOs was launched last year. It aims to support Albanian small businesses to thrive and offer employment in their communities so people wouldn’t be tempted into the hands of ruthless traffickers. Recently, QSNNN, a social enterprise in Fushë-Arrëz, a poverty-stricken area in the North of Albania notorious for recruitment by traffickers, was chosen for investment. QSNNN is already supporting the community in a variety of ways, but wanted to develop their social enterprise which purchased fruit, vegetables and herbs from local growers, dried them and then packaged them for sale in local markets.
Recently Medaille Trust CEO, Garry Smith, and Medaille Trust Country Manager for Albania, Ana Stakaj, visited Fushë-Arrëz to explore opportunities for collaboration and development. This visit was a follow-up activity to recognize the achievements of QSNNN. Alongside their business, QSNNN has been instrumental in providing essential services to the community including offering vocational training for youths and equipping them with valuable skills for a brighter future. Additionally, they provide vital soft skills training and support services for women facing challenging situations. One of QSNNN's most remarkable achievements has been the establishment of a social enterprise focused on collecting and drying medicinal herbs and forest fruits, including blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries. This enterprise is run by a dedicated group of nearly 15 women who are actively engaged in both the collection and processing of these natural products. QSNNN operates out of a previously abandoned wood processing factory.
During the visit, Medaille Trust representatives met with the Mayor of Fushë-Arrëz, Hil Curri. Mayor Curri expressed his concerns about the ongoing migration of youths from the town, emphasizing the need for interventions that can help retain local talent. He said: "We are indeed poor, but we have dignity. We only aspire to what belongs to us and what we deserve, and this country doesn't deserve to be God-forgotten and drained of its labour force and talent. At least 80% of the youths who have migrated are in the UK as we speak."