Entrepreneurship and Innovation Heating Up in Kosovo: USAID Scholars Run Universityâ€™s First Venture Incubator
Late last year, The University of Pristhina, Kosovo’s largest public university, serving 50,000 students, launched its first ever innovation and entrepreneurship center, VentureUP. Designed by the Advisory Committee, University of Prishtina faculty, and returned scholar Venera Fusha, VentureUP has blown away even the highest expectations of its founders. Demand for initial training events planned for 100 students mushroomed to over 1000 applicants. Public presentations such as “Women in Entreprepreneurship” played to a sold-out auditorium.
VentureUP’s team’s time in the US, funded by Kosovo and American taxpayers, was invaluable in helping them build and run VentureUP. Collectively, the returned scholars absorbed numerous academic, professional, social, and cultural experiences that serve as their raw material to drive change through entrepreneurship in Kosovo.
So, who’s running this burgeoning juggernaut? Not surprisingly, TLP graduates, Fis Malësori, Getoar Krasniqi, and Erblin Hoxha. All studied in the United States for master’s degrees under scholarships from USAID’s Transformational Leadership Program – Scholarships and Partnerships.
The VentureUP team offers options and opportunities that UP students have long craved but never thought possible, most notably, the chance to build their own future through entrepreneurship, instead of just waiting for a job.
“Through VentureUP, we now offer mentoring sessions, market research advice, trainings and workshops to University of Prishtina students looking to lift their start-up ideas off the ground,” explained Getoar Krasniqi, who graduated with an MBA from Golden Gate University.
In just the past three months, the supercharged team has worked with over 700 UP students. Demand for trainings (be it in workforce soft-skills or computer programming) is off the charts – and a whopping 80% of attendees are women.
“Twenty-five teams have already approached us with their new business ideas – and we’re developing programs to help them build ventures that will create jobs in Kosovo,” said Fis Malesori who completed his MBA-Finance at the University of Missouri. New venture ideas range from mobile (of course), to metal processing, to education, social enterprise, just to name a few.
As Europe’s youngest country, Kosovo’s youth are among its greatest assets. VentureUP exists to nurture their creativity and dreams and to help them achieve greatness.
“These students are hard working,” says Getoar. “And the feedback we’ve gotten so far is incredible. Everyone is excited about these new opportunities, including University of Prishtina faculty and staff.”
Photo Credits: Epic Media Kosovo
The Transformational Leadership Program - Scholarships and Partnerships (TLP-SP) is a partnership co-funded by USAID-Kosovo and the Government of Kosovo and administered by World Learning. The project, launched on February 24, 2014, will develop a cadre of leaders and equip the abilities of other Kosovars to drive change in priority economic, political, and social areas in Kosovo. Learn more at www.usaid-tlp-sp.org.