A new generation of entrepreneurs is tapping into the most valuable resource of all – the country’s youth, to export Information Communication Technology (ICT) services using the world wide web. Kosovo is witnessing a steady development of the outsourcing sector that is contributing to the domestic economy and tying young people to their country by offering sustainable jobs.
ICT services are the most on-demand to outsourcing service that Kosovo-based companies provide. It is a direct link to global demands driven by the digital transformation, and Kosovars with a certain skillset are enabled to be part of this borderless market.
One of the companies is Sonnecto, a business outsourcing company based in Kosovo’s capital Prishtina. Most of its 70 employees are young and speak a foreign language, in addition to their primary ICT skill. The company’s managing director, Fatos Ahmeti, who is himself 31 years old, says that particularly two factors, the leadership experience of the founders and the energy of the youth has triggered the launch of the company in 2018 to get the best out of the country’s potential.
“There is a high demand for the type of services we offer, especially in the US, the EU and the UK,” says Ahmeti. The market is driven by quality services that when they combine with an attractive price, it’s an offer hard to resist, he continues. Sonnecto delivers a range of services for a number of industries, and thanks to the proximity to Western Europe, it has set its objective to expand its business and double the size of the company by the end of the year.
Jobs in the ICT sector are preferred from thousands of Kosovo’s youths for a number of reasons: salaries are higher than the country’s average, it enables to be part of a vibrant and modern workplace and is a ticket to stay away from rife unemployment amongst youth.
With a youth dominated demographic in mind – a young population with around 70 percent under 35 years old, many other companies are reaping benefits. A long list of ICT companies, including Sonnecto, is part of the exporters directory that is managed by Kosovo Investment and Enterprise Support Agency (KIESA). It serves as point of reference for international companies to identify ICT outsourcing partners.
Recently, the directory has been updated and maintained by the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) funded project “Market Access and Digitalization Services for Kosovo Companies – ACCESS”. The project implements a series of facilitating interventions responding to market constraints that hinder pro-poor growth in Kosovo’s market systems. It has served as a timely intervention to aid Kosovo companies in their digitalization efforts, especially in the times of COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, ACCESS has assisted Kosovo’s Business Consultants Council (BCC) to achieve international accreditation, only the second organization in the world that is to provide training and certification for digital transformation consultants. The accreditation was preceded with training and certification of a group of 28 digital consultants in three areas of digital transformation.
One of the first-generation consultants is Arianit Fazliu, who was certified in Digital Transformation. “Everything we do to improve ourselves allows us to project a better future. This includes trainings, international cooperation, and certifications that raise the level of every process we implement in the company,” says Fazliu who co-owns Kutia, a custom software development enterprise.
What started as a freelance project in 2013 and making websites for start-ups the year after, the company now outsources most of its services to Scandinavian countries. “In addition to project-based services, we provide extension teams for our partners to deliver various products in software development and design”.
The company is continuously seeking to increase the commissioned work. From current number of 37 employees, they expected to double in size by the end of the year.
“Our objective it to become leaders in Kosovo and amongst top-five performing companies in the region,” says Fazliu.
In order to maintain a healthy organization to absorb the projected growth, Kutia is investing in its internal resources. “We want everyone in the company to look at their working place more like a career path. Our moto for this year is: Kutia 21+ People, Leadership, Growth”.
The type of working culture instilled amongst their employees, the company it is seeking to plant much earlier while young girls and boys are already at learning at Beetroot Academy, a place where IT basics are taught. This has become the first step in the career ladder that youngsters in the ICT sector take, followed by their traineeship and being mentored on up in the company hierarchy. This innovation is a response to the education system in Kosovo which is in constant struggle to keep-up with the rapid developments in technology and the demand for young professionals in ICT sector.
Every youngster involved in companies outsourcing ICT service globally is one less potential economic immigrant in Western Europe. Kosovo’s youth has reconsidered working from home especially during the travel restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the coming years, the companies emerging from this young country are prepared to turn the potential into a success story for developing the worlds’ software.
Photo by: Kutia, Sonnecto