August 21 is World Entrepreneurship Day, created to promote innovation and empower entrepreneurship and leadership worldwide. Our bank has innovation at the core of its mission and with it comes the entrepreneurial spirit, and of course this brings transformation in a rapidly changing market.
Exactly for this purpose we organized the event "Entrepreneurship Journey". In this event, the guests from the ecosystem of startups and entrepreneurship, and from the bank itself, shared with us their experience in creating these enterprises, the conditions that the Albanian market offers and how they see the future of this ecosystem.
Dean Celaj - Dean studied in London with the fund of excellence, completed his studies with honors, won many awards for his achievements. Dean has put all his knowledge in the service of education by founding Akademi.al. Akademi.al is an e-learning platform established in September 2019. In less than two years it was able to make available thousands of videos with free lessons from the best teachers in Albania.
During the discussion at the event, Dean shared his experience in creating Akademi.al, where he mentioned that the Albanian market is not yet fully ready for online shopping and that it needs a continuous education for these services.
He said working Agile is the most effective way of working for a start-up as well as the best way to be innovative and close to the customer consistently.
"Failure is part of everyday life, the unexpected always happens. We learn a lot from failures, we improve, we do not give up.”
Akademi.al is composed of very young employees and recruitment is done through referrals, and every potential employee goes through an internship period to see if they are compatible with the company.
"Employee satisfaction is also an ongoing job."
Regarding the cooperation with the banking system, Dean says that in Albania, the lack of Venture Funding makes the role of banks even more important for financing this type of business. But he does not see the cooperation with banks only in terms of financing but also in helping through innovative services or even in supporting with experts or expertise, which is necessary for these new businesses in the market.
Arjan Ymeri - Comes from important experiences in the world of Albanian startups and entrepreneurs since 2010. Arjan has also studied in London and is currently in the position of CEO of Officina Hub, the ideal place for young entrepreneurs, a place which functions as an incubator for ideas in the construction phase, but also as an accelerator for those ideas which are in more advanced stages. The help given to these new startups is personalized and their development is achieved through the help of mentors and experts.
"Our job satisfaction comes especially when we see how these ideas are shaped and attractive in the market. "
We have noticed that women have been more successful in leading startups, so far 62% of startups supported by Ofiçina have been female entrepreneurs.
Elira Abeshi - has 17 years of experience in RBAL, focused on different areas of the bank, such as Operational, Risk and Sales. Since 2015, she manages the RBAL SE Business Department and starting from 2020 she is part of the bank's Retail Division also managing the Micro Business Sales and SE Products, Segments and Strategy.
Elira said that the bank is a large enterprise and especially in recent years, we are trying to copy the way startups work, by changing the way of thinking or inducing innovative methods and Agile to offer new products and services. These agile teams operate within the bank as mini-companies or mini-enterprises.
Elira sees supporting the entrepreneurs in two aspects. First, given the profile of entrepreneurs as bank customers, RBAL strives to be innovative to make their lives easier through digital products. On the other hand, in cooperation with the European Investment Fund, a guarantee fund is provided for companies that employ young people under 30 years old.
Elira also sees entrepreneurs and startups as partners, not only with their participation in Elevator-Lab and cooperation with the bank, but also as the most important feedback providers when we want to test products and services (part of friends & family group for testing new products / services).
She sees the future as better customer education for our digital products and services as well as establishing close collaborations with the ecosystem and Startups.
This event was attended by many colleagues of the bank, who were also an active part of the discussion with questions and comments about the challenges and difficulties they face, as well as the desire to collaborate with innovation incubators in various forms.