More Local Employees
They bought a pepper-processing machine, two large bowls for cooking the peppers and an irrigation system for a new greenhouse. The new purchases not only saved time, but also improved working conditions. Perhaps most importantly, the new equipment allowed the three women to expand their business; they hired four more women from their village plus an additional five to help during the four month high season in summer.
Every year, the "Women Farmers" produce 40 kilograms of a dip called Ajvar, made with red peppers, which is sold in two supermarket chains throughout Kosovo. They also grow vegetables, some of which they pickle and others they sell fresh.
The Krusha e Madhe business is not unique. Across Kosovo, almost one hundred small businesses have received small grants like theirs. About half of the grants have gone to businesses run by women, ethnic minorities, and youth, and they are all small—none employ more than 20 people. The grants aim to help business, but also to benefit entire communities. For example, the "Women Farmers'" operation buys some of its vegetables from neighbors. "We collect vegetables grown by other women in the village, from seven families at the moment, because we cannot grow all the vegetables," says Hoti.
Benefitting Business and Community
Other grantees have similar stories. In the village of Marmulle, in western Kosovo, a small farm with 24 cows produces about 400 liters of milk daily. David Gojani, who owns the farm, got a grant to buy a refrigerator, a milk bottling machine and a yoghurt bottling machine. "This helps us improve the product and packaging quality,' he says, "as well as increase the capacity of milk collection from more than 20 farmers in our village." Because of the grant, the farm is now able to sell bottled milk at the local market every day. Right now, it has four full-time employees, but Gojani plans to expand his staff so the farm can serve as the sole milk collection point for the entire village.
And in Grapanica, in central Kosovo, the Ginza company makes doors and windows. With help from the grant program, Ginza's owners bought new machines for cutting, cleaning, and drying glass. Now, the company's owner can do in-house the work he was contracting out to a larger company. He has also been able to hire four new employees.
The project is financed with a $4.9 grant from the State and Peace-Building Fund of the World Bank, a fund reserved for fragile and post- conflict countries. This three year project gives support to small businesses to allow them to invest and expand. It also relies on community input to target and rebuild important local infrastructure. And in doing those things, the project promotes local employment and local decision making.
Via the project, entrepreneurs can apply for grants, technical help and training, but so far the grants seem to be the most sought after. Access to credit in Kosovo can be a problem, and this project is easing business owners' access to investment money. The business owners must match at least 20 percent of the money they receive, and the largest possible amount of money they can apply for is about $13,000.