Story of Aleksandër from Vlora
For many young Albanians, the future seems brighter abroad. Aleksandër was among those who didn’t just leave once, but twice. Anyway, he always came back home. Now he says that he learned the lesson and his future is better here, in his own country.
“I don’t lack anything now, and I don’t have a reason anymore to leave Albania. I tried emigration and I know that there is nowhere better than in your country,” says Aleksandër.
For the past two years, Aleksandër is committed to raising and selling organically raised ducks and chickens in Poro village, Municipality of Vlora.
The idea became a reality which engages his whole family, including his wife and parents. Aleksandër also asked his brother, who had emigrated to Italy, to return and work together to expand this business. Aleksandër told him that he’s already laid the groundwork.
Until a few years ago, Aleksandër - like his brother and many other fellow villagers - saw his future abroad.
Emigration remains a major problem for Albania. In 2019 Albania was ranked 12th among 20 countries with the highest emigration rate in the world. Emigration has become the most acute problem of the Albanian society, as the number of emigrants, mainly youth, is increasing, questioning the sustainable development of the country in the future.
Even in 2021, Albanians resulted in the highest percentage of desire to live and work abroad, compared to other countries in the region. The study found that 79% of Albanian students want to leave the country compared to 65% in 2018. On the other hand, 95% of those studying abroad do not want to return. According to the survey results, 46% of respondents in Albania are considering leaving the country, which was the highest percentage in the region. Of the total number of respondents from Albania who want to emigrate, 68% aim for European Union countries.
In 2017, Aleksandër emigrated to Germany where he applied for economic asylum. There he was initially sheltered in a refugee camp and afterwards transferred to a social house. He left his wife and young children in Albania.
“The moment I stepped in Germany, I hoped to first settle myself and then take my family,” Aleksandër says. But after nine months in Germany he realized that chances of getting a residential permit were very few, so he returned home.
But then again, building a new life in Albania once back, proved very difficult due to financial hardships and difficulties to find a steady job. Therefore, he decided to give emigration one more try, this time in Italy. He stayed there nearly one year, but as he could not find sustainable work and take his family once again he returned home.
Before emigrating, Alexander worked in agriculture and rented lands to grow maize and wheat to provide for his family. However, he couldn’t afford to sustain his family through this activity.
Upon returning from Italy, he decided to try raising chickens and ducks instead. His main idea was to have organic products which meant he would allow the chickens to feed and grow in nature instead of keeping them penned in the poultry farm.
Initially he bought a very small number of chickens and ducks. Thought he realized that this business could prove to be very profitable if he totally committed and expanded it, his financial means were limited.
Because he did not own the land and had no other bank guarantee, it was impossible for him to obtain a loan. He was not even eligible for the governmental subsidy because he was not a registered farmer.
While Aleksandër was trying to find a way to fund his idea, he learned about the RE-IN-VEST project, that is helping families recently returned to Albania with food packages, after school for children and trainings for new start-up businesses to recover in socio-economic terms.
He joined the project and enthusiastically attended all the trainings offered. Upon completion, he received a grant of 1,500 euros, which he invested in his business.
Alexander registered as a farmer and immediately expanded the capacity of the hen house, buying a small incubator for hatching birds and some other necessary materials.
During the first year of his business, he achieved promising results. He constantly increased the number of chickens and birds he kept and the eggs he traded, while trying to keep costs as low as possible.
He rented more land from his fellow villagers, and planted corn, wheat and alfalfa to feed chickens and ducks.
In this second phase, the RE-IN-VEST 2 project again supported Aleksandër with materials, such as wire nets to surround the area where his chickens and ducks roam free to feed and a pump to irrigate his agricultural lands.
At first, he focused mainly on chickens and sold fresh eggs along with the birds. During the second year he expanded his business with ducks and geese.
In 2021 he raised about 480 ducks and 650 chickens, selling not only to locals, but also to several nearby restaurants. There are currently 250 hens that he keeps for egg production and to hatch young birds.
“Every day I am expanding my business, because I have high demand from customers buying my products and I cannot meet all of them,” Aleksandër says. “The eggs and the birds that I sell are 100% organic, raised outdoors and with food that I produce myself, therefore I don’t find it difficult at least to sell them.”
The business provides his family with an average income of about 82 euros/ month. But he works to grow the business even further. Two months ago, he bought a new incubator with a larger capacity and expects to double the number of birds he will trade within this year. In addition to chickens, birds and ducks, Aleksandër wants to own his own farm. He built a small greenhouse and bought some goats.
Recently, he was elected to be the person in charge of the village and works hard to help his fellow villagers with ideas and advice about the products they should cultivate.
Aleksandër is convinced that he has finally built his life in Albania and no longer thinks of leaving the country for other opportunities.
“I don’t lack anything now, and I don’t have a reason to leave Albania. I tried emigration and I know that there is nowhere better than in your own country,” he says. He dreams of having a large farm with 100 % organic vegetables and animal products and he works diligently every day to achieve his goal.
REINVEST Project is financed by the German Government, supported by GIZ Albania and implemented by World Vision Albania in partnership with Diakonia Agapes foundation.