Know-how provider LVIA (Italy) - in cooperation with MAG2 Finance (Italy) - is successfully carrying out the KEP AUSTRIA project “New micro-credit scheme to women empowerment” aimed at improving the local labour market and the development of SMEs in the Albanian Shkodra Region.  In order to foster gender equality, a specific loan product dedicated to women entrepreneurs named “Luleborë” and a micro-credit fund of 40.000 EUR (5.643.000 Lek) for the disbursement of the loans have been created.
To help women kick start their business plans, the main financial components of the scheme are: a favourable interest rate; 0% of processing fees, charges and other costs; participation in the investment plan up to 90%; collateral/warranties required consist of pledge or loan guarantor/personal escrow (not mortgage); easier application procedures: not mandatory business license, flexible repayment schedules.
A promotional campaign for the new micro-credit scheme has been launched by the Albanian know-how recipient FondiBesa where person-to-person marketing is carried out by loan officers themselves. Up to now, 11 out of 17 applications have been approved with a disbursement of loans amounting to about 21.400 EUR (3.000.000 Lek).
The partners will dedicate the last two months of the project (October and November) to counseling, capacity building and training programmes for the selected women entrepreneurs in order to ensure a smooth and effective delivery of services and to increase their chances for long-term success. In particular, they will receive an insight and guidance on how to manage their businesses, to build their capacity of loan utilisation as well as on how a business can raise capital.
A successful outcome of the new loan product and its feasibility in the area of intervention will eventually be a best practice to be used in all 58 offices of FondiBesa in Albania.
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  The KEP AUSTRIA - part of CEI Know-how Exchange Programme - is financed by Austria, with funding provided by the Austrian Development Cooperation (based on an agreement between the Central European Initiative and Austrian Development Agency).  The Programme aims at promoting capacity building and technical assistance through know-how transfer from CEI EU to CEI non-EU Member States.
from top: Arta Minina, handicraft & embroidery shop in Shkoder; Artensa Kruja president of Women Artisans Association in Shkodra

from left: Vitore Marku, handicraft & embroidery shop in Ganjolle, Shkoder; Barbara Aiolfi from MAG2