From a shoestring budget to the next size up
For Naim Sadiku, running his own business was not always a walk in the park.
It was not so long ago that the shoe salesman was struggling to make ends meet at his small kiosk in Prishtina, Kosovo. Business was too slow; income from sales was not always sufficient to cover the seemingly endless costs of keeping the booth running. It seemed he could barely make enough to resupply his meagre stock, much less gain any momentum.
“Honestly, there just wasn’t enough on offer,” says Sadiku. “Hardly any selection. If I didn’t have exactly the right shoe size or just the right design, customers would go somewhere else. But I didn’t have the money to expand. We needed the business to support my family, but it wasn’t going well.”
Sadiku was not alone in the endeavour to earn his living through self-employment. In 2016, the vast majority of businesses in Kosovo were micro, small, and medium sized enterprises, accounting for over three-quarters of jobs.**
Access to suitable financing for entrepreneurs is therefore not only a matter of individual prosperity;
the health of the economy at large depends on the ability of small local businesses to thrive.
That is why EFSE invests in on-the-ground partners like KEP Trust, Kosovo’s leading microfinance provider. The institution’s extensive branch network helps EFSE channel funding to clients who may otherwise have difficulty obtaining the resources they need to sustain their businesses. These include clients
like Naim Sadiku, whose first loan enabled him to expand his supply and gain traction among his
customers. “The difference was huge,” he says. “I was able to stock up, and started having return
customers. Soon I needed to rent out premises for a proper shop. Before I knew it, I couldn’t even
keep up with the sales by myself. I had to hire help. Now my shoe store employs three people!”
Today, Sadiku’s challenge is crafting a brand for his shop, Genti Shoes. “I have learned that there’s
more to business than filling shelves. You also need to find the best opportunities to communicate
with customers. You need to have a separate budget for marketing.” Sadiku has a plan for that, of
course. “KEP staff have been so fast and professional in helping me expand my company,” he says.
“I’m using the latest loan to boost my marketing efforts – especially online, which will help me
expand my outreach.”
When asked about the future, Sadiku knows what he wants. “Just as people
outgrow their shoes, we’re outgrowing our premises,” he laughs. “Soon it will be time to open another location!”
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSC 1244 and the ISJ Opinion of the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.
**European Commission, SBA Fact Sheet Kosovo: ec.europa.eu/neighbourhood-enlargement/sites/near/files/sba-fs-2019_kosovo.pdf