Ilire Lepaj, a 35-year-old woman from Prishtina a year and a half ago decided to open her own store which she named “IL Art e Zanat.” In this store, which is located in the center of the city she sells different kinds of materials with traditional motifs such as badges, bags, postcards, glasses, handmade pillows, embroidery in frames and illustrated magnets, all of her own design.
After she finished her graphic design studies at the Department of Fine Arts in the University of Prishtina, she worked in several design companies in Kosova, but not having the space to express her talent and creativity, she decided to save money in order to start a business of her own.
Ilire is one of the few women in Kosova that has her own business. She says that this business has enabled her to achieve her goal and has provided her a normal life.
From the research “Women in Entrepreneurship” that was conducted by Riinvest Institute in 2017, it turned out that only 10 % of active businesses in Kosova are owned by women. This research emphasizes that most of these businesses are small and are mainly oriented in the trade and service sector, such as beauty and hairdressing parlors.
In a survey conducted by D4D Institute (Democracy for Development), more than 53.2% of the respondents state that the reason for women’s exclusion from labor market is that they are responsible for taking care of children and elderly people, whereas 30% of them underline the lack of job opportunities as a reason for their exclusion.
When they were asked what should be done to stimulate women to become more active in the labor market, around 33% of the respondents see the equal treatment between men and women as a solution,while 25% consider that equal payment is yet another much needed solution.
Luljeta Demolli, the executive director at the Kosovar Center for Gender Studies, says that women always face numerous challenges in the labor market.
“It is very difficult to start a business with no startup capital and be financed by banks with no property as a collateral. Only 2% of the women in Kosova have bank loans where their real estate is left as collateral. Also, even when women run businesses, those are usually small ‘micro’ businesses,” says Demolli.
She adds that women often are hindered by their family members who think that women who are married and have children should only take care of them and of the housework.
Demolli thinks that although Kosova is building its tradition in promoting gender equality, in order to achieve a greater economic potential, it is still necessary to work toward a greater involvement of women in economy and to offer more opportunities for their economic empowerment.
Vesa Krasniqi, senior in the Faculty of Economics, in the Department of Banking, Finance and Accounting of the University of Prishtina, says that she wants to get involved in business in the future and that she works in that direction. She also believes that the future will bring even larger number of girls in the field of entrepreneurship.
“I want to challenge myself in business since I studied this field for three years. I have also been a part of numerous trainings thathave helped me a lot. There are many girls enrolled in the Faculty of Economics, which paves the way for a better future for girls in the field of entrepreneurship.”