Hot springs eternal: turning liquid assets into a thriving business
We owe much to Ancient Greeks: they laid the groundwork for many of the basic concepts of philosophy, science, technology, and democracy – and the comfort of a soothing thermal bath. Historians suggest Roman baths were based on Greek traditions, and warm, mineral-infused water is still used to mitigate a range of ailments.
For Aishe Kycyku, the curative powers of the local hot springs in Tregan, Albania, offered her the chance to provide comfort for the sick as well as to support her family. The business began when Kycyku started boarding visitors in her home who came to submerge themselves in the steaming outdoor springs. Word of the powers of the baths spread, and she eventually realized that she needed to expand her accommodation capacities if she was to meet rising demand. Yet there was one problem the springs could not cure: Kycyku needed capital.
Fortunately, with local microfinance association Fed Invest, Kycyku was in good hands. The loan provided by this EFSE partner enabled her to rent a semi-detached house located near her home and transform it into a hotel.
“Today, we have 17 standard rooms and six thermal baths inside the hotel,” she explains. What started as a one-woman operation has mushroomed into a company with a medical doctor and nurse on staff, along with five additional employees.
The success of the past has Kycyku optimistic about the future. “I want to add baths with mud from the springs,” she says, noting that such treatments can alleviate the symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism. Like the Greeks and Romans before her, Kycyku is carrying on the tradition of offering a place to heal and rejuvenate – in addition to creating employment and enriching her community.