Digitalization is no longer a buzzword or an aspired vision for many small or medium sized businesses. A few months back, establishing an online presence, though highly recommended, was not necessarily a top priority for many such businesses. Post COVID-19 outbreak, moving operations online, enhancing the online presence and the process of digitalization have become a core part of their business strategies. This is necessary if businesses are to adapt to the new reality and survive its challenges. This change is here to stay.

To support our partners through such a monumental shift, the Promoting Private Sector Employment project partnered various businesses and organizations to harness the power of digital technologies, whether to modify existing business models, create new value or simply make use of advanced technologies to make their presence known online.

A Rent-less Shop by Appdec

The platform is the answer to the needs of many small businesses to dive into e-commerce. It is a software system offered as a service to businesses. All businesses need is a computer and Internet. The centralized and integrated platform then manages the selling of products on their behalf. So, businesses do not have to invest a lot to implement such platform. They only pay an annual subscription fee. The service is offered for selling products as B2B, B2C, and offline.

Through a partnership agreement with PPSE, this platform creates new sales channels for interested businesses from the hotel, restaurant and cafeteria (HoReCa) sector, grocery shops and bakeries, among others, by giving them access to online shops (e-shops) at an affordable price.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all businesses in Kosovo. Although the subscription fee to ShitjaOnline is not high many businesses cannot afford that given the current situation or even hesitate to invest. Therefore, the decision of PPSE to support our platform was timely and important as we are now able to not only offer this opportunity to more businesses but also advance the platform further,” says Zana Tabaku, founder of Appdec.

PPSE will co-finance 60% of set-up costs and 50% of subscription costs for one year, whereas the clients will co-finance 40% of set-up costs and 50% of subscription costs for one year. Setup costs include: design, hosting, placement of the shop in the platform, remote training for clients how to use the platform, maintenance, and support.

Connecting Tour Operators with Tourists

The platform is a digital platform that on one hand, offers tour operators to buy and sell tourism products online, and on the other hand provides them with all the necessary tools to manage those products. “Think AirBnB but for tourism products,” says Ardall Celina, the brain behind the platform, who driving motivation was to fill a loud gap in the Kosovo market and connect tour operators with buyers.

Kosova PASS is the landing page of tourism products offered in Kosovo. The market for tourism products, especially outdoor and adventure products has really grown in Kosovo. The providers have advanced the quality of products, services and personnel resulting in an increased interest for these products. However, they lacked digital platforms that would enable more efficient operations management, including sales, logistics, personnel and client relations.

This is the gap that aim to fill by providing to tour operators a set of online tools for marketing, additional sales channels and to manage operations.

“The pandemic was a catalyst for many businesses to take the leap into the online world. The support from PPSE was extremely needed and arrived at the ideal moment. It motivated us to advance the platform further, adding other functionalities that will help tourism businesses even more. Without this support, we would not have managed to launch the platform now, and not with these functionalities,” says Celina. He adds that the platform has a great potential to include other tourism services and their goal is to keep developing the platform further.

A Platform for Grocery Shopping

The platform was the natural progression of Flizza, known for its production and delivery of traditional dishes. With the expansion of the food delivery and the well-established logistics infrastructure, the company deemed it was time to expand services by building an additional platform to sell other products like: fruits, vegetables, beverages — just like any other grocery store.

To build the platform, Flizza partnered with PPSE. Such partnership happened at just about the right time, says Drilon Qehaja, founder. “We launched the online sales using a limited platform that had been developed 9 months prior. The PPSE support enables us to build a broader and more functional platform not just for selling but also to manage local producers,” says Qehaja.

The online platform will be used to manage stock, digital payments, GPS tracking so the company can provide efficient services.

The online platform goes hand in hand with the opening two new selling points in Peja and Gjilan, in addition to the existing one in Prishtina, and the purchase of required equipment.

Increased sales are expected to result in increased demand for locally produced fruits and vegetables. In fact, when ordering the needed supply with fruit and vegetables Flizza will give priority to local producers. This in turn will lead in increased employment and income for direct and indirect beneficiaries.

Promoting Private Sector Employment (PPSE) in Kosovo aims to attain sustainable impact on employment through improved competitiveness of the private sector.