Posted on 1 Dec, 2020 by Felix Stiegler

On November 17th  2020, GFA on behalf of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and the Government of Albania organized a webinar for over 200 participants via the ”Albania Agribusiness Support Facility“ (AASF) project. Albania has witnessed an increased influx of tourists over the last years, which can be attributed to its diverse landscape, culture and history. In 2018, the renowned travel guide “Lonely Planet”, ranked Albania among its top ten holiday destinations within Europe. While the overall importance of tourism grew, agricultural tourism (combining accommodation on farms or wineries with the local culture and cuisine), has evolved as an economically viable sub-sector, bearing huge potentials, especially for the development of the rural areas of Albania. These agritourism businesses have been particularly hard-hit by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, that includes the induced restrictions of all travel. Agritourism businesses therefore now find themselves in dire need to access finance in order to bridge the low-income months and for implementing the necessary investments for the 2021 travel season.

As AASF provides risk-sharing facilities to financial institutions, agribusinesses in the general sense, along with agritourism enterprises in particular, can access loans incorporating beneficial conditions without imposing the full collateral, usually required by Albanian banks. In order to draw attention to the sector and to increase awareness of the AASF mechanism with its potential to support the businesses, AASF experts carried out a large-scale study on “Development Potentials and Financing Needs of the Agritourism Sector in Albania”. The findings of the study were presented via a webinar, attended by over 200 representatives from agritourism enterprises, governmental and public institutions, sector experts, and financial institutions. In cooperation with EBRD’s technical advisory service “Advice for Small Businesses” (ASB), the GFA experts additionally presented technical and financial support mechanisms like the IPARD II grant scheme, which can be combined with the beneficial loan conditions provided by AASF. Since the project began in 2017, more than 6,000 Albanian agribusinesses have benefited from facilitated access to finance through AASF, enabling investments of nearly EUR 60 million in this sector, proving to be crucial for the economic development of Albania.

Project in brief