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Finding Light in Albania through Enterprise Led Development

Our Managing Director Duncan Parker recently visited Tirana, the capital city of Albania – a youthful and vibrant city. With its brand new beautiful football stadium, wide open well used parks, rainbow coloured housing estates and fashion conscious city workers that frequent the proliferation of high end restaurants, cafes and bars - on the surface it seems like a city that’s ‘on the up’.

Underneath the veneer, however, there’s a worrying epidemic at play. Droves of young people are choosing to leave Albania to seek out a better life. According to a Case Worker at the Mary Ward Loreto Foundation, an Albanian NGO aiming to eradicate poverty and human trafficking, “they are without hope here”. He states that “they know the risks” involved in paying ‘smugglers’ to try and get to other European countries to seek out work, opportunity and most importantly hope, but believes that “many young people think it’s worth it”. Sadly also, some are leaving not through choice, but through coercion. In either scenario, the risk of exploitation is high.

Albania is the single largest genesis of rescued victims of trafficking in the UK. Young Albanians are trafficked into labour industries, sexual exploitation and drug trafficking, often ending up in nail bars, car washes, construction or agriculture, where they work in very poor conditions and without adequate pay. For many, the story is much worse; being trafficked into sexual exploitation through a network of online brothels where they are repeatedly sold into highly risky and damaging environments.

Where there is darkness, we always find light:

UK based anti human trafficking charity Medaille Trust was formed in 2006 by charity Catholic Religious under the leadership of inspirational nun Sister Ann Teresa. They have been working with Mary Ward Loreto for nearly ten years, to support Albanian survivors in nine safe houses in the UK. In addition, Mary Ward Loreto works to deliver awareness-raising sessions across Albania alerting young people to the dangers of making the trip to the UK and the potential to be exploited once there.

Medaille Trust’s CEO, Garry Smith, takes up the story:

“Mary Ward Loreto does incredible work in supporting potential victims of trafficking in Albania and their awareness-raising programmes are thorough and hard hitting. On a visit to the country in 2019 I had a conversation with one of their team and became aware that however hard hitting the talks were, young people were still willing to take risks because of the lack of opportunities at home. That’s when I realised that our “Prevent” programme needed to be more than just telling people not to come; we needed to offer a viable alternative to persuade them to stay. Therefore I turned to Angello and Ethical Goods who I knew had a reputation for running similar programmes in other countries.”

A new programme:

We are delighted that their latest programme has been designed and led through Ethical Goods in partnership with Angello and New Paradigm Ventures. Using enterprise as a tool of hope, the programme will enable enterprise led development to take place in Tirana. It supports eight local NGOs to come together to receive the training, tools and finance to start their own enterprises which will hire young people at risk of being trafficked, or directly help young people themselves to start their own venture.

The Relevant Finance Academy (an initiative by New Paradigm Ventures) is a unique programme that offers live, online, comprehensive training on financial literacy where participants build a complete, viable, four-year financial business model. The model includes the creation of a realistic Profit & Loss account, a Cash Flow statement, the financing need and potential sources of funds. If you are interested in taking part in the Academy then you can check out the details and sign up here. Alternatively, sign up to the next information session on Wednesday 21st December 2022 here.

Ethical Good and Angello specialise in enterprise led development and are working closely with Medaille Trust to add this strategy to their existing anti trafficking work. We are passionate about innovating approaches to create social impact and exist to provide the tools, people and finance to make this happen. If we can support you with your approach to enterprise led development and help to spread light into your part of the world, do get in touch for a chat.


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