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Albanian Women in Business – Mission to the Netherlands Unique, Powerful, Inspiring

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On 4th and 5th November, a group of lady ministers and successful businesswomen from Albania organized by the Ambassador of Albania to the Netherlands, H.E. Ms Adia Sakiqi together with the Ambassador of The Netherlands to Albania, H.E. Ms. Guusje Korthals Altes, gathered in Amsterdam to follow a rich business and cultural program.

Women in Business Mission was focus in strengthening networks by connecting the public and the private sector, as well as build knowledge of the institutions of both countries on topics related to infrastructure, water, energy, access to finance, urban planning, film & documentary makers, innovation and other creative industries.

Ambassador Sakiqi (centre) Guusje Korthals Altes, Ambassador of the Netherland to Albania and Marry de Gaay Fortman – the host of the dinner in Amsterdam.

The mission was headed by the Albanian Minister of Infrastructure and Energy, H.E. Ms. Belinda Balluku, the Minister of Culture, H.E. Ms. Elva Margariti, the Deputy Minister of Economy and Finance, Ms. Belinda Ikonomi and the Deputy Mayor of Tirana, Ms. Anuela Ristani.

The cherry on the top of this mission, as expressed by Ms. Ambassador Sakiqi, was the participation of the Mayor of Tirana Mr. Erion Veliaj, as part of Amsterdam International Water Week. His speech at Leaders Forum lifted up the room. He is doing tremendous work for Tirana and allowing for a lot of positives changes.”

The Mayor of Tirana Mr. Erion Veliaj, a “gender champion”, was one of the Keynote Speakers for the 2019 Amsterdam International Water Week, the Resilient City Leaders Forum and the Integrated Leaders Forum, where he discussed his work and challenges in improving the city’s infrastructure.

Women in Business from Albanian at Rijksmuseum.

The programme of Albanian Women in Business headed by the Minister of Culture, H.E. Ms. Elva Margariti, included visits and sharing of experience at the EYE Museum, FOAM Photography Museum, Dutch Culture, Rijksmuseum.

Moreover, the agenda included roundtable discussion at Rabobank headquarters, meetings at Amsterdam Economic Board, Amsterdam Smart City and Arcadis, headed by Ms. Belinda Ikonomi  Albanian Deputy Minister of Finances and Ms. Anuela Ristani, Deputy Mayor of Tirana.

CEO of Shell, Ms. Marjan van Loon talks to Albanian Women in Business group.

In addition to the planned visits to several organizations, companies and institutions, the group participated in three roundtable discussions on which issues such as finance, infrastructure development and culture were analyzed in depth. Ms. Sakiqi declared “One of the aims of these roundtables was to build connectivity between the participants of the Albanian delegation and the city of Amsterdam, as well as with the employers’ organization, the Dutch businesses, cultural institutions, experts, and leading women and men from different sectors.”

Not least, a meeting between the Minister of Infrastructure and Energy, H.E. Ms. Belinda Balluku and the CEO of Shell, Ms. Marjan van Loon was held. The importance of this meeting was unequivocal, as Shell’s biggest European operation is in Albania. 

Dinner hosted by Marry de Gaay Fortmans, Thecla Bowedes, Melinde Kassens, Betteke de Gaay Fortman, Carolien Gerhels.

“Albania is a country that bases all its energy production on hydro-power and we have the opposite of the challenges of the Netherlands on energy transmission, but it is very important also to learn on how the Dutch diversify the energy sector from their energy point of view.” emphasized the Ambassador Ms. Sakiqi. 

While the Deputy Minister of Finance Ms. Ikonomi was guest speaker at Rabo Bank, the Minister for Culture, Ms.  Elva Margariti was at Dutch Culture Union  discussing  artistic entrepreneurship, branding marketing, while Minister of Infrastructure and Energy, Ms. Belinda Balluku was at Amsterdam International Water Week together with the Mayor of Tirana, Mr. Erion Veliaj.

Since the time at which Albanians women first gained the right to vote in 1945,their situation has changed significantly in Albania.

The level of education of women in Albania is increasing constantly. The number of graduates from higher education in the academic year 2017/2018 amounted to 34,000 students, of whom 63.3% were girls.

Leonie van der Beuk, Director of Amsterdam Smart City gave a presentation for Albanian Women in Business Mission at Amsterdam Economic Board.

The number of women in decision making has also been increasing, which is made possible largely thanks to the inclusion of the 30 % quota, in the amendments made to the Electoral Code in 2008.Women are now an indisputable force in the country’s sustainable development, and contributing along Albania’s path to European Union integration. 

We were coordinating this work with five top Dutch ladies who helped us to get this program together. A very special thank you goes to Ms. Marry de Gaay Fortman, Ms. Carolien Grehels, Ms. Thecla Bowedes, Ms. Melinde Kassens, and Ms. Betteke de Gaay Fortman.”

“The Dutch Ambassador to Albania, H.E. Ms. Guusje Korthals Altes, also accompanied us; it was a very good synergy between the two embassies.

We visited the port of Amsterdam and had a presentation from the director of the port, then we when to Rijksmuseum and had a review of a museum as entrepreneurship case of study, we visited Arcadis, an engineering company, there we had as keynote speaker CEO of Shell, Ms. Marjan van Loon.”

Port of Amsterdam – Guusje Korthals Altes – Elva Margariti, Minister of Culture, Belinda Balluku Minister of Infrastructure and Energy and Ambassador Adia Sakiqi.

“This visit of top Albanian Women in Business to the Netherlands, was the product of the initial Dutch Women in Business visit to Albania in June 2019. We are all inspired to work on a cross sectorial follow up of these two fruitful exchanges, match the right enterpreneurs, academia and institutions to the next step, a follow up  that will bear fruits in concrete projects be it in infrastructure, finance and art.” Concluded Ambassador Sakiqi with satisfaction when looking back at the successful mission, and encouraged a follow up in the weeks to come. 

The Albanian Embassy in The Hague will organize another business forum on December 3 in Rotterdam with the Albanian diaspora business chamber, the Municipality of Tirana and Shell Albania and many companies.

Albanian Women in Business – Mission to the Netherlands : Mrs. Belinda Balluku, Minister of Infrastructure and Energy, Mrs. Elva Margariti, Minister of Culture, Mrs. Belinda Ikonomi, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy, Mrs. Doris Alimerko, Ministry of Culture, Mrs. Matilda Kercaku, Ministry of Infrastucture and Energy, Mrs. Majlinda Demko, Ministry of Finance and Economy, Ms. Anuela Ristani, Deputy Mayor of Tirana, Mrs. Milva Ekonomi, MP/Former Minister of Economy, Mrs. Adelina Greca, Head of the National Urban Planning Agency, Mrs. Gerta Lubonja, Head of Technical Water Secretariat, Mrs. Iris Elezi, National Film Archive, Mrs. Linda Shomo, CEO Easypay, Mrs. Enida Bezhani, Women Mentoring Programme, Mrs. Ardjana Shehi Kalo, Lawyer/ Embassy network, Mrs. Jonida Skendo, Lawyer/Energy Trade, Prof. Denada Veizaj, Head of Architecture Department/PUT, Ms. Marry de Gaay Fortman, Ms. Carolien Gehrels, Ms. Thecla Bodewes, Ms. Melinde Kassens, Ms. Betteke de Gaay Fortman, Ms. Femke Brenninkmeijer, Ms. Sophie de Lint,Birgit Otto, Ms. Nina Tellegen, Ms. Femke de Vries, Ms. Femke de Vries, Ms. Merei Wagenaar, Ms. Jet Bussemaker, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Albania, Ms. Guusje Korthals Altes, and Albanian Ambassador to the Netherlands, Ms. Adia Sakiqi.

Photography by Aldo Bonata / Embassy of Albania in The Hague.

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