Training Visit in Himara, within the IDEA-Investment Developement and Empowerment Action project, INTEREG Greece-Albania programme, took place on 30-31 May 2019. The two-days training visit included meeting with the mayor of Himara in which where made presentations of two projects from the municipality of Himara, than one best practice of social enterprise “Oriku Soap” was presented. The visit continued to “Vila Cipa”, “Homemade Products-Himara”, “Olive Oil Factory SKURA”, “Llogora Tourist Village” and “Flag Pine Association”.

The IDEA project purpose is to create a sustainable social enterprises sector, trying to meet the demand of CSO-s, Social Enterprises and Social businesses with the supply offered from potential public and private investors, as well as studying and building hybrid tools, which can be applied at the local and regional level.

The first day of the Study Visit, started according the agenda, in a meeting with the Mayor of the Municpality of Himara, Mr. Jorgo Goro.

Mr. Goro expressed his pleasure for participating in this meeting. He expressed very positively about the IDEA project, in which the Municipality of Himara is in his partnership. He also valued that these European Union projects give a great help to the Municipality to increase its capacities and also to bring two countries like Greece and Albania closer together through increasing cross-border cooperation.

The partners were closely acquainted with two Municipality projects related to the social enterprise. Mrs. Ruçi made a presentation in the presence of partners, of two old buildings that the Municipality intends to reestablish and restore to the function of the community. Specifically, the building in the village of Palasë, is planned to turn into a center that will be in the service of people with disabilities. The center will be in the service of a wider community, including the areas around Himara.

The next building that the municipality plans to restore, is about an old school, which is planned to be turned into an eco-museum. This center will function for cultural promotion purposes. This multifunctional center will be in the service of ecotourism, promoting the products of the area and organizing the activities.

After the presentation of Mrs. Ruci, Mrs. Besmira Hoxha, made a presentation of “Oriku Sapun”, a social enterprise which produces soaps, using entirely BIO products. “Oriku Soap” makes a significant contribution to the women of the surrounding area, offering them to come and work in her shop.

The study visit was later moved to “Vila Cipa”, bed-and-breakfast. The partners traveled to Pilur, where Mr. Cipa’s business is situated. He started to make a presentation of the history of his business. At the    beginning  was very difficult, says Mr. Cipa, even we rented our rooms, so we had to sleep somewhere else.

Now, Mr. Cipa has increased the number of rooms, offering better conditions for tourists, who have increased in number year after year. What differentiates his business is the promotion he makes of the culture and traditions of the area. He invites the polyphonic group of Pilur, one of the most famous groups in Albania  for the tourists present in his villa. So tourists have the opportunity, while enjoying the traditional cuisine of the area, listen to the polyphonic group of Pilur performing.

Mr. Cipa also states that there is a great deal of  cooperation with the local peoples, buying from them the products they produce, like meat, milk, cheese, vegetables. In this way, besides helping the local    people to sell their products, at the same time ensures that foreign tourists are offered fresh food.

The visit continued to “Homemade Products- Himara”, a small manufactory that mainly produces products such as marmalade, gliko, but not only. Mrs. Bollano made a description of her work history. She explains that the products they produce are entirely BIO and made from fresh products, which she collects themselves to the locals or collects on her own land. Mrs. Bollano states that the products she sells at the shop are all the products are prepared by her. However, she says the law does not allow her to sell her products to the supermarket, but only at her shop or at hotels. Despite Mrs. Koci I suggestion about increasing the capacities by employing other people to come and work in her shop, Ms. Bollano said that she says she is currently not interested in expanding the business because she thinks that a business expansion will reduce her product quality, but she also says she is satisfied with profit, considering her age.

Mrs. Bollano makes a contribution to the surrounding area by collecting the products that serve for the production of glycols and marmalades. Its business model is a very good practice that can be also applied from other ventures.

The last visit for the first day of Training Visit was held in “Skura Olive Oil”, a business that deals with the production of olive oil and soap based on olive oil. Mr. Skura made a presentation of his business history. At a certain time, says Mr. Skura, olive oil was very thin and could not be used to eat, we decided to use it for soap production. In this way, besides the production of olive oil, they began to produce soap. Mr. Skura says their product is certified and they have access to the supermarket to sell their product. He uses the olive that he buys from the inhabitants of the village villages who have their own olive groves.

Business is run by him and his wife. They say they are satisfied with their work so far, however they would like to improve the technology in order to increase their product quality.

The second day of the study visit started with a visit at the “Flag Pine Association”. Mr. Hysolakoj made a presentation of the work carried out by Flag Pine on the paths in the Llogara area. Up to now, Flag Pine has helped create new paths in the Llogara area, but have also trained the local area guides. Mr. Hysolakoj says they prefer more local guides because thinks that they can assist better the tourists but are also they are more efficient in providing first aid to the visitors and the tourists if an incident happens.

Mr. Vangjeli made a presentation of his business history. He says that “we here do not offer only beds for sleeping, but we also offer the nature of the area.” Mr. Vangjel says he is always willing to cooperate with the local residents so that they can present their ideas about promoting the products and traditions of the area. He adds that some time ago he had an idea to include a woman from the area that worked with a handloom, to come and work inside his ‘Tourist Village’. So she would have the opportunity to come to Llogora Tourist Village every weekend and work during the moment when the      tourists would be present. In this way, besides promoting the tradition of the area, it would also have the opportunity to sell its products. Mr. Vangjeli says he is willing to cooperate with the residents of the area so that they have the opportunity to set up booths within the “Tourist Village” and to sell their  products.

He expressed readiness for any ideas that may be presented and for collaborations aimed at improving services for tourists.

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