Monthly Archives: August 2013

Kosovo Entrepreneus Selected to Bonn International Summer School on Responsible Business

The German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), has selected two young entrepreneurs from Kosovo to be a part of the “Bonn International Summer School on Responsible Business”.

Mr. Mathias Kiesler, the deputy ambassador of Germany to Kosovo, noted the importance that the German government gives on the encouragement and promotion of entrepreneurs of responsible business practices.

GIZ Regional Director in Kosovo, James Macbeth, talked about the significance of embracing a more responsible and sustainable approach to achieve business success.

Both Kosovar entrepreneurs will represent the next generations emerging from the young country, a group of people that must be ready for the future and open to the new models of global business.

A young entrepreneur, Annea Hapçiu, from KosovaLive Media Group & N’Yoga, stated that with each passing day, businesses are realizing the significance of humanism and consideration of society and the environment. Businesses that have such a sociable approach to their work environment may increase the value of their brand and company, resulting in financial benefits.

“In the current business environment, as competitive as it is, with many companies shutting down soon after they open, sustainability provides a foundation for businesses’ success,” – Hapçiu continued.

“While following the interactive workshops and lectures at the Bonn Summer School, we hope to learn about best practices by the experts of this field, and then implement them in the businesses in Kosovo,” Hapçiu emphasized.

Hekuran Murati, deputy of Zogu-Tek, said that he liked the idea of participating and what he could learn there.

“There will be many prominent speakers, and the conference will be held in a country that is far ahead of others regarding on the awareness of taking responsibility, protecting the environment, and using the resources efficiently,” he said.

Young entrepreneurs from all over the world will gather to share their ideas on the issue “ACTING SUSTAINABLY, TAKING RESPONSIBILITY”

The original article was posted at the Kosovalive webpage. Click here to read the original article

Pleurat Shabani: A One-Man Vodka Empire

Vodka entrepreneur Pleurat Shabani is seeing massive success from his brand, Konik’s Tail. The Poland-based brand is stocked in 600 bars and spirits retailers in the United Kingdom and was named one of the world’s best vodkas from Drinks International.

Interestingly enough, Shabani was initially rejected from almost every bank and venture capital firm in the UK, as well as many private investors. He went into the brand launch with no marketing budget, as well as no partner or employees. He funded the business with help from friends and family, and he slowly began to finance the brand from revenues. He gained acclaim through a personal approach, building credibility for his project throughout London.

In order to perfect the recipe, he camped in the Polish woods in order to find the right grains. His blend consists of Ancient Spelt, Golden Rye, and Early Winter Wheat. Once he believed his recipe was exquisite, he began building up personal relationships with London’s leading bartenders. It has proved immensely successful. Konik’s Tail, though currently only available in the UK, is facing heavy demand from major global cities such as New York City and Moscow.

Mr. Shabani has seen all of this success, and he has still yet to hire his first employee.

All interviews were conducted by James Hurley of The Telegraph. Learn more information about Konik’s Tail Vodka here.

A Few Albanian Greats in Turkey

Three quick sports facts about Albanians in Turkey:

Ali Sami Yen was born 1886 in Istanbul, Turkey and was the son of famous author and philosopher Sami Frashëri. By the end of the year 1905, Mr. Yen and his friends founded the great football club Galatasaray. He was also the first captain of the club in 1906, and he is also considered as one of the most effective sports leader in Turkish sports. Learn more about him here.

Arif Erdem
was born 1972  and is a former Turkish football player of Albanian origin. In 1991, Mr Erdem was recruited by the football club Galatasaray and received his first professional contract. In the 2001-2002 season, Mr. Erdem won ”top scorer” in the Turkish league, with a total of 21 goals. He is currently working as a football coach according to

Emre Belözoglu
was born 1980 in Istanbul of Albanian descent. Belögzoglu is considered as one of the greatest Turkish football players of all time and is currently playing for Fenerbahce Club . In the 1996-1997 season, Belögzoglu signed his first professional contract transferring from Zeytinburlu to Galatasaray. He helped the Galatasaray Club win the Turkish League four years in a row, as well as the Uefa Cup. The talented player has also seen action in the English and Italian Leagues. For more information on Emre Belözoglu, click here.

Ottmar Hitzfeld (64) praises Valon Behrami: “Never before have I had such a strong defensive player”.

Hitzfeld (world trainer of 1997 and 2001) was very excited about Napoli’s victory against the fivefold world cup winner Brazil [1:0]. He could not stop praising the Kosovo-born player, Valon Behrami (28): “Valon is a world-class player. I can’t imagine our team without him. He wins an incredible number of duels, is very secure with the ball and very fast. He managed to play with very few fouls, which is an indication for his high class playing level.”

Napoli-star Behrami might even be the best defensive midfielder that Hitzfeld encountered throughout his impressive career: “I used to have Jeremies and Freund, but that used to be a different kind of football back then. In today’s modern and fast-paced football game against Brazil, I have to say that Valon is the best I’ve ever had”. During the last few years, Valon went through a positive development phase.

His character underwent a positive transformation as well. According to Hitzfeld, “Valon used to be an individualist, but now he’s a team player. He became a great leader with social competences. He leads other players” and especially the young ones whom he shares the same heritage with, such as Shaqiri and Xhaka. To Behrami, this game was one of his best games.

The next match of Napoli is going to be against Bologna on August 25.

The original article was posted at the Blick webpage. Click here to read the original article.


The Kosovo Diaspora blog is an information portal dedicated to Kosovars living abroad and at home, friends and the general public interested in Kosovo. Over the past few months the readership of the has increased tremendously. The new statistics explain that the blog has reached a global readership across 157 countries in the six continents. This explains that the achievements of people of Kosovo origin have been ample and across different life walks and continue to inspire people around the world.

Readers come from the countries with red and orange color in the map.

Visit to stay up to date with achievements of Kosovars abroad. Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter.

Albanians in Alaska: Finding their niche in local transportation services.

At an online Albanian community, someone posted that it is terrifying that people are not aware of Albanians in Alaska. Their size? Structure and focus? There are still no answers. I do think that it is important to know of this little community, relatively little. Based on information given from residents of Alaska, it is claimed that there is an Albanian community living there alongside communities from Korea, Russia, China, Africa and South America. Mainly, they are Albanians from regions such as Prespa, Struga, Ohri, Dibra, Kercova, Albania and Kosovo.

Most of the Albanians are hired as cab drivers or are  restaurant owners as well as have their little construction firms. Since these jobs, except for fishing, are the highest paid. Alaska, has interesting incentive techniques to encourage Americans at populating this cold distant place.Newspapers in the United States, at their employment section, advertise job listings from Alaskan Fishing companies that give paycheck as high as 1000 or 1500 dollars per week.

Albanians in Alaska live just like other emigrant communities. One Alaskan Albanian, claims that through his searches in the internet, has learned that since 1992 Albanians alongside South Americans, Koreans and Chinese have been populating this region. A daily newspaper claims that as a community they are not very organized, however, they still operate under an umbrella patriotic organization.

It is claimed that the number of Albanians varies between 300 and 500. Alaska seems to be a perfect quite and peaceful place for them to live. One member of the Albanian community stated that : “We definetly miss our homeland, we visit it every summer. The flight from Alaska to Europe lasts 9 hours. At every festivity, we organize ourselves, especially for the Flag Day, Albanian Independence day, festivities that bring all Albanians together from different religions and regional backgrounds.

Most of the cab drivers in Alaska are emigrants, the majority being of Albanian or Korean background, they will keep you entertained throughout your ride with their stories for the frozen ocean between the States and Russia.

The town of Bethel in Alaska has been crowned the capital of cabs in America. This made possible due to the disproportional number of population and cabs, it is claimed that there are more cabs than people. Bethel, with a population of 5,800, with 93 cab drivers, or on average with one cab per 62 people. This is the highest proportional number of cabs per persons in the US, this is all based on information provided from Alfred Lagasse, vice president of Central Taxi Agency , ASSN Limo &Paratransit.

Furthermore, Betheli has only a 10 km stretch of paved roads, with additional 20km side roads, that have been claimed by nine cab drivers.

Cab drivers spend mor of their time on paved roads, that create a connective tissue between popular destinations such as : stores, post office, hospital and airport.

“This is what I do on a daily basis so tourists and other community members get to their destinations” says cab driver Bilal Selmani, famous in his town. Everyone calls him Bethel’s Lincoln. “Every hour, every day, every month, to and fro for thirty years I have been a with these people” says Selmani with a warm smile.

“Cabs are on the move day and night, fog and frost down to -40 degrees Celsius” says another cab driver of Albanian origin named Xhemal Saliu, nicknamed Jay Saliu. “Cab drivers here have been on duty for a long time, you can ask anyone for us, they will know our name” INA

The original article was posted at Kosovalbaner webpage. Click here to read the original article.

Sinan Bytyqi: The upcoming star of Manchester City!

Many boys in his age dream of meeting soccer stars of Manchester city. Unlike most boys, 17-year-old Sinan Bytyqi plays with them. Since May 2012, the Austria native has been a part of the exclusive soccer club.

Although, Sinan currently plays on the reserve squad, it is a considerable achievement for a boy of his age and years as a player. “Those players that don’t belong to the first 11 players meet us and practice with us.” The head coach, Roberto Mancini, often watches the reserves practicing, to keep updated on Manchester’s young talents.

Sinan is actively working on his goals. Last December, he played for the U18 league against Sunderland, scored a goal and assisted another one. Just recently before that game had he recovered from an injury. He comments his success with “you have to work hard in order to earn the chance”.

The following step of his career happened in January 2013. The game took place in front of 50,000 viewers in the stadium of Etihad. They played for the youth cup against Burnley and won (2:0). Sinan did not get a chance to play on the filed, but being present in front of such a large crowd has already been a boost for his career and an enriching experience.

The original article was posted at KOHAnet webpage. Click here to read the original article. 

Diaspora Investment: President of Services Group International Returned to the Balkans, Invested in Kosovo

Skender Ghilaga (Xhilaga), the president of the New York-based Services Group International Inc., and a member of the Albanian Diaspora, returned to the Balkans to invest in the region’s development. Ghilaga’s real estate project, the International Village in Pristina, Kosovo has had positive spill-over effects not only in the economy of the municipality, but also to the communities living in the area. As a result of the project, communities were provided with proper infrastructure, and were presented with a model for social facilities for the needy and handicapped families in the city.

Skender Ghilaga born in Albania has lived and worked in different places. After leaving Albania in 1939, Skender lived in Greece, Turkey, Belgium and the US. Additionally, he spent considerable time in France, England and the Middle East for professional reasons. He has worked in the area of consulting engineering and construction since 1958. He later founded the Services Group International Inc. (SGI), which specializes in real estate development and financing. Ghilaga lives in New York, and is the president of the company. Information on his projects for engineering and real estate development can be found in the SGI profile.

The International Village Project

One of the pioneering real estate and housing development projects in Kosovo, was the SGI International Village project in Pristina, initiated in 2005. The International Village did not only introduce a new way to building housing communities in the city, provide shelter for various families in need, but also helped shape Kosovo’s legislation in real estate development.

Ghilaga’s company SGI started the search for land to develop the International Village Project in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. After they won the tender competition of the Pristina Municipality in 2004, his company formed International Village SHPK as the majority stakeholder. At that time the Pristina Municipality was under United Nations (UN) administration. SGI negotiated with the UN legal department, and set the first precedent by enacting United Nations Regulation No.2005/13 in March 2005 for long term privatization of public land, and obtained a 99-year lease with the UN in April 2005.

In return for the privatization and the lease for the land, the SGI constructed and donated to the Municipality and the Directorate of Social Works a new building comprising of 50 apartments to be distributed to the needy and handicapped Kosovo families. This building now stands at Fusha e Pajtimit area in Pristina, and was handed over to the Municipality in 2011 at a public ceremony. The Municipality of Pristina, at their request, also granted by SGI the rights to build identical social buildings for other families. SGI, at their expense, provided infrastructure to the neighborhoods of International Village so that the inhabitants in the area could have adequate access to energy, water, and sewage treatment facilities for a total of 1,500 people. The total cost of the International Village Project was about 26 Million Euros.

Investment in Kosovo was considered risky due to its post-conflict reconstruction, political uncertainties, and economic transformation. This risk however, did not stop Diaspora businessmen such as Skender Ghilaga and his partners, to invest and champion new ways for economic and social development in Kosovo.

From Refugee to U.S. Soldier: Yllka Cana Returns Home to Kosovo

As a 10-year old girl Yllka Cana went to school every day where she and her family lived. Like many in Livoq, a village outside Gjilane, Kosovo she and her friends spent the summer of 1999 playing games and being kids. While tensions mounted all around Kosovo, they never thought their lives would be turned upside down. As the situation continued to deteriorate and violence escalated, Cana and her friends were not allowed to begin their fourth grade year.

In the 1980s, opposition to sovereignty of Yugoslavia caused rioting in Pristina. Ibrahim Rugova, leader of Kosovo Albanians, initially advocated non-violent resistance. As tensions mounted, the opposition evolved into a separatist movement, and the Kosovo Liberation Army took a different stance to the resistance.

The KLA launched a guerrilla war that featured regular attacks on Yugoslav security forces. In spring of 1998, the Yugoslav military partnered with Serbian police to fight the separatists. In the months that followed, thousands of civilians were killed and more fled their homes. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that 460,000 people had been displaced in the year prior to NATO’s involvement in March 1999.

UN reports estimate that nearly 40,000 Albanians fled or were expelled from Kosovo between March 1998 and the end of April 1999. Most of the refugees went to Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or Montenegro. Thousands more were driven out by intimidation, attacks and a wave of crime after the conflict as NATO’s Kosovo Force struggled to restore order in the province.

Fourteen years later, Cana, who had relocated to Allentown, Pa., early in 2000, is sitting in the principal’s office at the very school she attended in Livic. She is now a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army, deployed as part of KFOR.

“The local shops closed” said Cana, remembering that part of her childhood. “All that could be heard was shots and the ground shaking from bombs. It all happened very fast.”

For their safety, Cana, her mother, three sisters and two brothers went to Camp Stankovec, a refugee camp in FYROM. Her dad stayed behind to work with KFOR at Camp Monteith, rejoining them in 2003 in Pennsylvania.

Being back in Kosovo brought back a lot of memories Cana had tried to forget.

“I remember playing games with my friends,” she said. “I remember being very close to people, I knew everyone,” she said. “I remember laughing and being really silly. I remember playing soccer outside the school. It was a lot of fun growing up here. If you told me then that I was forever going to leave this place and go to another country, learn a new language and make new friends I would not have believed you. Some of the best memories were made here, and I am so happy that I can remember them.”

As Cana overcame the odds in America, she received her education, going on to study international relations and political science at Lehigh University, in Bethlehem, PA. There she was part of the Reserve Officer Training Corps. She always remembered the American soldiers she met in 1999. They were superheroes to her.

“Growing up in a war-torn country one truly understands the pain and hardship that people experience, especially children,” said Cana. “The experience growing up here made me want to join the military. I always wanted to be that person that went to a school and helped someone else, because 14 years ago I was on the other side, I was that kid who needed gloves. I know first-hand how much it means. Our time is essential, and true aid comes from ordinary people, crafting a better future for someone in need.”

When her first deployment happened to be to the very place she left all those years ago, it was almost a surreal experience.

“At first, I was reluctant to come because I knew that it was going to be hard for me to come back,” said Cana. “I thought about all the people that I have not seen for 14 years, people that raised me, people that taught me and people that walked me to school. Good friends that I was separated from. Honestly, I was not ready to come back- I don’t care how weak it may sound, but I was not ready.”

In the end, her reasons for coming were stronger than her fear of returning.

“I came because I thought about all the soldiers that have deployed here and risked their lives to save mine, soldiers that left their families to make a difference, and now it’s my turn. I had to do it, and I will continue to do it no matter where in the world.”

Cana brought Sgt. Maj. Timothy Griffith to visit the town she grew up in. They visited her house, and her elementary school. He said that he believes that no matter where you are, education is most important.

“Without education, people are taught by word of mouth. They believe what they are told, rather than going out and validating information. If they are able to read and write, then you can direct them to sources that educate them, they can find sources of information and they don’t have to just believe what they are told.”

Cana tried to hide her squeals of excitement, as she walked into the same classrooms she had sat in 14 years ago, and saw teachers she had had all those years ago. With Griffith, they talked to the new principal and the teachers to see how the officers at Camp Bondsteel could help this school.

“We can’t do the big stuff, the construction and what not, but I can focus on the smaller stuff,” said Griffith, who has been with South Carolina’s 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade for the last 31 years. “The science teacher said it would make his class much better if he had microscopes. The art teacher had limited brushes, small amounts of water colors, and the kids are very talented. It doesn’t seem like much, but when these are in limited supply, it’s very much appreciated.”

Griffith and other senior officers don’t always get the chance to be a part of the community. They donated their own money to purchase microscopes, art supplies, warm gloves and hats, and smaller school supplies. They took the items back to Cana’s school, where the students and facility were very appreciative of the effort.

“As a senior leader, I am very busy. I get pulled from all directions, and I am just happy to be able to do this,” said Griffith. “Not only are we helping out the local community, but we are also showing our junior NCO’s, our junior officers that senior people care, too.

Cana agreed. Besides doing her work as an intelligence analyst, working with the children is the first reason she wanted to be a U.S. soldier. Sitting next to the man who taught her first through third grade, Cana laughs as she looks through old photographs and grade logs. She laughs as she explains that the numbers written are equal to an A or B in the American school system. She laughs, as her teacher tells her how she loved to learn and always wanted to do more.

Cana’s face blushed at the praise of her teacher, a man she says taught her so much, lessons she has taken with her through her travels. The value of kindness, of having compassion and gratitude for the life you have lived is best reflected in helping others. “Knowing that a great impact can be made on others’ lives, through simple actions, makes the work worthwhile,” said Cana. “Giving to the community provides a rewarding sense of pride. Each act of kindness and help contributes towards a brighter future for all.”

Nezir Jahija, Cana’s teacher, beamed with pride at the young woman sitting beside him.

“I am very proud of Yllka,” he said. “I knew that she would be successful by how hard she worked here. Now, she has decided to join the U.S. Army, which is the world’s best, most powerful army, with values that are unlike any other.”

The students here are very appreciative of what the soldiers have done, and the difference they have made here in Kosovo.

“The students are a younger generation and many were not alive during the conflict,” said Jahija. “The older generation, teachers, older students, we experienced it, we know the difference the army has made in Kosovo. The older generation does a really good job of telling the younger so that they can know the history of what happened here, and see the effort KFOR put into Kosovo. It is our responsibility to teach the students so they are aware of the history of their country.”

Hearing what KFOR does is one thing. Interacting with soldiers first hand is an experience for these students.

“Just knowing that KFOR is in their country, making a difference and trying to help people is one thing, seeing it in action is different,” said Jahija. “ For the students here, the visit will leave a lasting impression. When they can physically see the care and concern the Americans have for the people, it makes a huge difference. It goes from being something they believe is happening, to something they have concrete evidence of.”

Cana’s visit not only allows these students to interact with the soldiers they hear about every day, but gives them hope. She shows these students what is possible for a child who faced challenges and had to leave her home, said Jahija. Cana also helps to override the common tradition that women should stay within the home. As a soldier in the U.S. military, a native of Kosovo and a strong role model, she left a young, scared girl, only to return a strong and determined woman. Her return is not only felt in the school, but in the houses of the children, and in the community.

Being able to be a positive role model, like the soldiers Cana looked up to and respected when she was growing up means a lot to this young officer. More importantly, she is getting a piece of her childhood back. She always knew she would return to Kosovo, but the day-to-day distractions of life, of work, school, family all provided a way for her to continue to delay it. Halfway between laughing and crying, Cana said that now that she is here, seeing her school, her house with the dining room table leg that still has her name carved into it, a memory she had almost forgotten, she wonders why she waited so long to come back in the first place.

The original article was posted at Dvids. Click here to read the original article.  

Gazmend Husaj: A Kosovo Volleyball Success

The Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sports welcomed renowned Kosovar volleyball player Gazmend Husaj. Husaj is the first Albanian volleyball player to sign a contract with a foreign team, competing with the Copra Elior team in Piacenza, Italy. He recently transferred from Qatar Sports Club to the Italian team, competing for Series A of Italy, a premiere world league. He has also played for clubs in Kosovo, Albania, Switzerland, and Bahrain.

Gazmend Husaj began playing volleyball at a very young age, and he has traveled many places, playing for professional teams in Albania, Macedonia, Switzerland, Bahrain, and Qatar before transferring to Italy. During his time in Qatar, he became the team’s season top-scorer for two seasons in a row.

Minister Krasniqi congratulated Husaj on his athletic endeavors, as well as his numerous achievements as a member of the Albanian national team. The minister also encouraged others to follow Husaj’s commitment and motivation when seeking success in the sport, on both professional and individual levels. The success of Kosovo’s volleyball players continues to improve the country’s international image, bringing it one step closer to international sports.


Husaj thanked the Minister for the reception and expressed his gratitude for the interest showed regarding his career. He then congratulated the Minister for all the work he has done to promote Kosovo’s sports.

The original article was posted at The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports webpage. Click here to read the original article.