While Albania’s business sector may have been late to get its start compared to other European nations, its entrepreneurs have worked tirelessly over the last decades to create a country with a flourishing economy
Founded in 1991, InfoSoft Systems was one of the first companies established in Albania. It began by selling computers and later expanded into producing software for various applications. Today, InfoSoft Systems is the leading Albanian IT company and part of the larger InfoSoft Group, which comprises 14 business units and also operates in Kosovo and Macedonia.
InfoSoft Systems is playing a big role in the Albanian government’s drive to roll out an ambitious profile of online services for its citizens. Partnering with global companies, InfoSoft Systems has created online services for areas including public procurement and an e-Albania portal system where citizens and businesses can apply for services like social welfare of pensions. Thanks in part to the company’s help, today the government can provide almost 100 services through a single window.
The Albanian Power Corporation (KESH) is the country’s largest electricity producer, supplying around 70-75 percent of Albania’s energy needs. With its production based entirely on hydroelectricity, it helps give Albania the status of being one of the world’s few countries that relies fully on renewable energy. However, as hydroelectricity depends on increasingly volatile climatic conditions, the company is focused on diversifying into new renewable sources like solar. Meanwhile, the state-owned company is adapting to Albania’s energy market liberalization strategy and following European directives.
Fondi BESA is Albania’s leader in microfinance. Besides achieving sustained growth itself, it has provided over €600 million in loans that have led to the creation of thousands of new jobs, significant poverty alleviation and improved financial literacy throughout the country.
Established in 2006 as the first private hospital in Albania, the American Hospital of Albania was created to provide key health services for Albanians that did not previously exist in the country. Over the years, it has expanded its specialties along with its physical presence in both Albania and Kosovo. Already, its medical procedures such as IVF treatments are attracting people from all around Europe.
Balfin’s history goes back to 1993 when it began as an electronic devices trader and eventually created the largest network of electronics stores in Albania. From there, the company branched out into real estate development, building Albania’s first modern shopping mall and dove deeper into retail, establishing the first Albanian chain of supermarkets and bringing popular clothing brands to the country for the first time.
As the group grew and consolidated in its markets of expertise, it also diversified further. In 2013 it acquired full ownership of AlbChrome, Europe’s only vertically integrated producer of high carbon ferrochrome and then ventured into the energy sector, logistics, agriculture and nickel mining. In 2018, it acquired the Tirana Bank and is now beginning investment in the tourism sector.
By 2020, the company aims to bring in €1 billion in revenue.
Established in the early 90s, Kastrati Group began by building gas stations across Albania but has blossomed into one of Albania’s top conglomerates. First branching out into the wholesale of fuel in both Albania and neighboring countries, it has now gone on to become a major group of companies that operate in the sectors of construction, tourism and finance. Today, its businesses collaborate with international partners like Exxon Mobil and MVRDV. In 2018 the group’s turnover reached $800 million.
Established in 1995, Albstar has become one of the biggest companies in Albania in engineering, waterworks, transportation infrastructure, and civil as well as industrial projects. Present across the country and in neighboring nations, Albstar has grown over the years through work with international partners.
“German investments, especially by KfW, have been instrumental. KfW’s supervision has been important, having shown our people how to work to international standards with very little increase in costs,” explained the Idajet Ismailaj, administrator of Finman, Albstar’s holding company. “After that experience, we were able to take on other projects with foreign investors like Shell.”
Albstar is now completing the Arena Kombëtare football stadium in Tirana, which will be home to the Albanian National Team and fit 22,500 spectators.