The journey to a well-established small business, one that would offer him work flexibility and pay based on merit, was not easy. Viskont started out by holding many small jobs that ranged from musician to truck driver to supporting his mother-in-law in her local clothing store. He even tried his luck migrating to Germany for a while. Being part of the Egyptian community in his hometown of Berat, the challenges he faced were due to structural limitations for minorities – and migrants – in Albania.
When Viskont returned to his home country in 2018, he heard through a friend about the Coaching Cycle by Swisscontact’s Coaching 4 Employment and Entrepreneurship (C4EE) project. The main goal of C4EE was to integrate returned migrants and youth with marginalised backgrounds into the labour market to make a living and to actively participate in society through a particular coaching cycle developed in collaboration with the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.
Viskont was motivated to try it out right away. The Coaching Cycle program offered him the necessary support in inventory management and enabled him to conceive a solid business plan based on his unique selling point: clothes. Once Viskont registered the business and started operating, he realized there was potential to expand. However, for that he needed more inventory, and a bigger car, which he could not afford even if he sold his current one.
C4EE-Microfinance partner financial institutions, which had adapted existing loan products and newly created a microloan product for young entrepreneurs, made it possible for Viskont to take a small loan and buy a larger van. With the money earned from the car sale, he purchased more ready-made clothing packs to sell to stores around the country.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic impacted his profit, Viskont is using this time to pay back the loan and planning for growth. His aim is to sell additional products in demand by his clients such as kitchen utensils. He also envisions to expand the range of customers in the coastal area, where not many traders are active, and to potentially sell individual clothes from the van to customers at beaches during summer.
Viskont has included his wife in the business too. She leads sales negotiation with the oftentimes female store owners. Together, they now have a solid financial standing and a stable income to support their family.
The Coaching 4 Employment and Entrepreneurship project Micro finance Component on providing access to financial services for the marginalized people (2019 – 2021) was fully financed by EMF Foundation, Hilti Foundation and Medicor Foundation. The project was implemented by Swisscontact.