SPRING BLOG

Celebrating the First Ever Accelerator Program for Women Founders in the Western Balkans

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Women Founders Accelerator Albania Program Participants

For the past three months, Spring Activator has been working with the Women Founders Accelerator in Albania to co-deliver a hybrid virtual and in-person accelerator program for women-led startups in Albania. This program, powered by EU for Innovation, has been the first of its kind in Albania and in the greater Western Balkans.

An immersion in high-intensity bootcamps complemented by expert-led online sessions and mentorship has taken the 10 program participants on a journey of a lifetime. They have explored regional and global business expansion opportunities and gained knowledge to help them scale heir businesses and become investment ready.

On December 4th, 2020, the program will culminate in Demo Day — open to the public —  where the women founders will pitch their businesses to a jury for a chance to win €5,000, presented by Spring.

We’d like to invite you to meet these amazing women and join us to celebrate this momentous milestone in their entrepreneurial careers.

Meet the Participants of the Women Founders Accelerator in Albania

SADA PEÇA
Founder of l’Atelier Sada’s


A graduate from Tirana, Albania’s University of Fine Arts, Sada founded L’Atelier Sada’s & Sada’s ShowRoom in 2016. 

A painter and fashion designer, Sada gained the desire for painting and creating beautiful things along with an eye for fashion from her mother. She remembers designing and creating outfits from scratch from a young age with her dolls.

At the Atelier, Sada and her staff work mainly on custom designs for individual clients. These include bespoke couture dresses and various lines of clothing.

Her mission is to promote a classic example of women following their dreams and creating unique feminine pieces in the fashion industry.

IRIDA NALLBANI
Co-founder of Rock Tirana


Irida Nallbani is the co-founder of Rock Tirana, the first climbing gym in Albania.

Rock Tirana was born of a focus on creating a climbing scene in Albania, from establishing the new ethics of modern climbing in the community to developing and promoting outdoor climbing and training a new generation of competitive climbers.

Irida and her partner are proud to support and work with some of the best professional climbers in Albania, and their shared passion for the sport has brought forth some outstanding results.

Besides being a climber herself, Irida also works as a Market and Liquidity Risk Analyst in a financial institution in Tirana.

ARJOLA BUZI
CEO of Aura Events Boutique


Arjola is a TV Journalist with experience in screenwriting, blogging, and photography. She holds a degree with excellence in Communications and Public Relations.  

To her, the founding of her event planning agency in 2017 was initially conceptualized as the creation of a channel where her previous experiences could be brought together so as to add up to the cheerful moments of her community.  

Presently Arjola aspires to enhance Aura’s activities with innovative solutions that are accessible to a larger audience.

KRISTI JANKU
Founder of Kikiliciouss


Kristi is a designer with a passion for cooking. She first started blogging about food at the age of 15, which represented her very first steps towards building the Kikiliciouss brand. Kristi is also a very passionate activist for Slow Food and Food Revolution Albania, for which she has been an ambassador since 2016.

On her way to obtaining her Master’s in Business Administration, Kristi further refined her entrepreneurial skills in order to take Kikiliciouss to new frontiers with many new projects and collaborations. Kristi has hosted a segment titled “With Kristi’s Hands” (Me Duart e Kristit) on the TV show “Who’s coming for Lunch” (Kush Vjen Për Drekë); aired on Klan TV — one of the most popular TV channels in Albania. For this project, Kristi shares a daily recipe or article related to food, health, and how to cook delicious and nutritious meals on a tight schedule.

Besides cooking, Kristi loves to travel and explore the beauty the world holds. She shares such her journeys on Kikiliciouss!

PRANVERA RROKAJ
Founder of Pinca Network


Pranvera Rrokaj holds an MSc. in Finance-Accounting from the Faculty of Economics at the University of Tirana. During her studies, she was engaged as the co-founder of several student organizations, as well as in several programs for developing leadership and entrepreneurship among youth.

After a 12-year career as a professional in consulting companies in the financial sector and as an academic, she decided to engage in entrepreneurship through a project that aims to provide opportunities for professionals like herself and students, connecting them with businesses that are looking for their expertise and commitment.

ANTEA GOCI
Co-
founder of Art Hostel & Apartments


Antea co-founded Art Hostel & Apartments with her brother as a result of their desire to repurpose their old house and her passion for hospitality.

With a clear vision of making an impact in the hospitality market in Albania, she has been running the hostel since its opening in 2018. She welcomes travellers from all over the world every day, and offers them budget-friendly accommodation at a high standard because she believes that travelling should be about the experience, not about luxury.

Antea studied Business Administration at the University of New York in Tirana, and holds a Bachelor’s degree from SUNY Empire State College. Growing up, she was able to get first-hand experience in business management by being part of her family’s businesses.

Her favourite thing about running the hostel is the social nature of the business. Antea enjoys meeting new people and sharing travel stories with them. She hopes to encourage more people to visit and explore Albania, making it one of the main tourist destinations in Europe.

MERITA KUKA PRENJASI
F
ounder of Essenti.al

Merita founded her social enterprise in May 2017 and she  is a full-time catalyst for inspiration with a dedication to making a more meaningful world.

She has over 5 years of experience in customer relations and as a hydro-engineer. She speaks 6 languages and plays the piano. A lover of nature, Merita also cultivates land owned by her grandfather in a small city called Kruja, located one hour from Albania’s capital, Tirana. 

Essenti.al’s aim is to create opportunities and jobs in the local community — to strengthen the community — by farming sustainably and producing and selling products with added value. The main crop is lavender which is grown traditionally across ten-hectares of fertile farming land.Throughout the year, the harvest is turned into pure essential oils, soap, dried flowers and bath salts, and more.

For Merita and her team, being able to work their land and own their projects naturally brings out everyone’s enthusiasm and commitment. She works six days a week with lavender and herbs, and on Sundays she goes cycling and to the theatre with her children.

ELDA PUCA
F
ounder of ZAZ Design


Elda is a senior architect and her experience centres on residential and healthcare projects. In 2016 she founded ZAZ Design and since then she has been working on residential projects for the American and Canadian markets.

Her main focus has been traditional houses and tiny houses on wheels. Based on her passion for these tiny homes and her experience in designing them, she’s working on ZAZ Design becoming the first European company to be building tiny homes in Albania (and in the broader Balkans).

ANEIDA BAJRAKTARI
Co-f
ounder of Balkans Capital


Aneida is the co-founder and managing partner of Balkans Capital, a financial consulting company based in Tirana which helps companies unleash the transformative power of their finances.

She is also the director of Startup Grind Tirana, a global startup community designed to educate, inspire, and connect entrepreneurs. Aneida further works as the lead organizer of Startup Weekend Tirana, the world’s biggest educational movement for entrepreneurs. 

A key player in the startup ecosystem in Albania, Aneida is also the Senator of Albania in the World Business Angels Investment Forum, an international organization aiming to ease access to finance for businesses in various phases with the ultimate goals of generating more jobs and more social justice worldwide and empowering global economic development by creating innovative financial instruments for innovators, startups, and SMEs.

Aneida has organized numerous events with the desire to aid the development of her local entrepreneurial system. She has been invited as a keynote speaker, mentor, and jury member to various events. Her entrepreneurial spirit and pursuits not only engage and inspire but have also contributed to fostering innovation in the country.

JOZEFINA LUCI MALIQAJ
Founder & CEO of “Wear your imagination”


In May 2020, in the middle of the global pandemic, Jozefina brought colours to people’s lives by coming out with a new clothing brand named “Wear your imagination.”

The brand is about creating memories by turning kids’ drawings into clothing. Thanks to an amazing growing team, she is proud to share this wonderful idea with families and she hopes customers love wearing their imaginations as much as Jozefina and her team love bring them to life.

Jozefina grew up in Germany where she completed elementary school. She obtained her Bachelor’s in Film Direction and Multimedia at the Academy of Film Marubi in Tirana, Albania. Since 2007, she has worked part-time as a voice actress for animated films and in 2011 she started working as an executive TV and commercial producer. Jozefina is passionate about creating special projects connected to kids, hence her new brand.

Outside of work, Jozefina enjoys spending time with her family and friends. They love organizing parties at their place, traveling, and exploring nature.

Attend Demo Day!

Register to attend Demo Day of the Women Founders Accelerator in Albania on December 4th, 2020 where these amazing women founders will harness what they’ve learned and pitch their businesses for a chance to win €5,000.

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