Kickstart – Business mentoring and access to finance for young micro-entrepreneurs

The project supports young, disadvantaged micro-entrepreneurs to enhance their capacities through business mentoring, e-learning on financial literacy and access to loan, the latter being tailored to their needs and capabilities by partner microfinance institutions.
Project duration
2022 - 2024

Albania is a country of many opportunities but with weak financial systems and business support. Many young people choose migration as a better option compared to seeking employment or starting a micro-business in the country.

Due to the informal tradition of doing business in Albania, access to business mentoring and financial services have been poorly developed for micro-entrepreneurs, especially those who are marginalised. Almost all lack education and skills and have no financial track records and collateral in order to access financial services. For this reason, most start-ups fail or remain at the subsistence level and do not evolve into catalysts of economic growth.

The Project

The project introduces sustainable propositions to enhance the business management capacity of young, marginalised entrepreneurs through business mentoring, e-learning on financial and business literacy and access to loan products.

A local network of dedicated business mentors for young, marginalised micro-entrepreneurs is being set up together with local partner organisations. These mentors pass on their hands-on experience in establishing successful businesses. Learning groups between the micro-entrepreneurs are being established to exchange experiences. Additionally, (e-)learning and advisory services on financial literacy and business development are developed and available via a platform to micro-entrepreneurs. And lastly, the project assists partner micro-finance institutions (MFIs) to establish and pilot functional models for access to formal financial products and services for marginalized (start-up) micro-entrepreneurs.

Project Goals

  1. Micro-business mentoring
    Through local partner organisations, the project supports the establishment of a micro-business mentor network. Marginalized start-up micro-entrepreneurs are assisted by these mentors in improving their business competencies and performance and generate the required capital to grow. In this mentoring process, young entrepreneurs are supported in reflecting on and improving their micro-businesses, especially where it comes to finances, positioning, marketing and sales, business linkages, client relations, supplier relations, logistics, personnel, and taxes.
  2. (E-)Learning for financial literacy and business management
    On the one hand, start-up microentrepreneurs have access to in-person training on financial literacy, loan products, wise borrowing, smart marketing and good business management. They are complemented with the “ten things” every start-up entrepreneur should know about micro-business management, especially regarding marketing, finances, tax regulations, dealing with personnel, distinguishing themselves and being in control of the business. On the other hand, simple and short e-learning modules (accessible by smartphone) are developed and made available free of charge on a platform to all Albanians, who wish to start or have already started their micro-business.
  3. Loans for start-ups and marginalised micro-entrepreneurs
    The specific loan products of partner microfinance institutions (MFIs) will be adapted, and new products will be developed that are tailored to the needs and situation of the target group. The e-learning certificates and references of the mentors are used as evaluation criteria. The MFIs are assisted in promoting the loan product and in securing the required guarantee funds. The entrepreneurs are actively stimulated to also consider private loans and mobilize their savings

Expected Results

  • 500 young micro-entrepreneurs (45% women) are directly supported by the project and access business mentoring, financial and business literacy (e-)training and access to loans from partner MFIs.
  • Additional 400 micro-entrepreneurs (45% women) access e-learning modules directly via the platform and obtain loans from partner MFIs.
  • Overall a total of 450 young micro-entrepreneurs (45% women) successfully obtain loans and consequently increase their annual income each by CHF 2 500 on average.

Financing partners

This project is financed by the Medicor Foundation. It is part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA. 


Continuing Vocational Education and Training
Loan Products support marginalized youth grow the business
Viskont Kalamalo, 37, a mobile trader from Albania, now owns a van for his small business thanks to the support from C4EE Microfinance project.