Energizing Albania’s Economy: UNDP’s Supplier Development Methodology Transforms Businesses
Specialiste Komunikimi, UNDP Albania
As you journey through the picturesque landscape of Hamallaj, set on the stunning Adriatic coast, you’ll likely spot a minivan covered in the words “Dini Fruits and Vegetables,” which belongs to Dini, a mobile purveyor of fresh produce.
After a decade of hard work as a construction worker in Greece, punctuated by a harrowing car accident, Dini found himself at a crossroads in 2009. With resolve in his heart, he chose to return to his homeland, Albania. Guided by the unconditioned support of his brother and devoted wife, he embarked on a new chapter.
Back on Albanian soil, Dini’s aspirations took root. Together, they laid the foundation for a modest yet promising venture. Their vision? To forge connections between local hotels and restaurants and the bountiful earth of the region. Here, every fruit and vegetable bore the mark of relentless care and nurturing.
In the embrace of this fertile land, Dini and his dedicated team nurtured not only crops but also relationships. The fruits of their labor told a story of resilience, as each piece of produce became an indication of their commitment.
In the span of just one year, Dini has undergone a remarkable transformation, with its clientele expanding threefold.
Among the illustrious newcomers to Dini’s ever-expanding list of clients stands the prestigious International Movenpick Hotel and Resort, a true hallmark of the enterprise’s newfound success.
What Sparked this Remarkable Transformation?
A year ago, the UNDP’s Suppliers Development Project, under the guidance of the Economic Recovery and Resilience (ERR) program, provided hope for micro, small, and medium-sized Albanian businesses affected by the 2019 earthquake and the COVID-19 pandemic.
At its core, the ERR program harnesses the expertise of three well-established business support methodologies: “In Motion”, the “Supplier’s Development Programme” (SDP), and “Growing with Your Business” (GYB). These methodologies, imported from UNDP’s Regional Bureau of Latin America and the Caribbean, brought with them a proven track record of success. “In Motion” injects innovation and adaptability into microbusinesses. “Growing with Your Business” supports local producers to expand their market reach, while the “Supplier’s Development Programme” (SDP) works to elevate local suppliers, enhancing their capabilities to align with larger market demands.
This amalgamation of strategies aims to empower Albanian businesses with tailored tools for recovery and growth. By leveraging the expertise of the UNDP’s regional counterparts, the project has unfolded as solid evidence of cross-regional collaboration and the power of tried-and-true methodologies.
At the heart of SDP is a cadre of highly trained business consultants. Armed with expertise, they orchestrate tailored business consulting and training for selected businesses within value chains, including client companies and their strategic local suppliers. In Albania’s context, SDP found its footing in the tourism sector for the pilot implementation.
The journey unfurls across six distinct stages: promotion and formalization, diagnosis, lead company-supplier interaction, design of Improvement Plans, Implementation of Improvement Plans, and Documentation & Replicability. This structured approach infuses renewed vitality into business relationships.
A provider of fruits and vegetables, Dini is one of the six value chain members of the client company called “STARMAR,” which runs a hotel, a bar, a beach bar, and a restaurant.
I went to talk to Dini myself.
I was eager to understand how this project worked for him. His eyes light up as he recounts the challenges he’s surmounted, the lessons he learned through the journey, and the hope that the future looks better.
In his words, I traced his journey from skepticism to illumination.
Having embraced the program a year ago, he cautiously yet courageously embraced the tide of training and coaching sessions.
His most profound revelation? His transition from a solitary operator to being an important part of an essential food system.
“I was very skeptical at the beginning. Slowly, I came to understand the value of training and coaching, an entirely new concept to me. I thought I knew all that was I learned how to run my business better, how to manage finances, marketing, and customer relations techniques, how to communicate, negotiate, and even use social media. I also learned about sustainable quality protocols, which I had never heard of before”.
With the advent of the program, a refrigerated van provides secure protection for his valuable harvest. This transformative addition ensured both freshness and trust in his offerings. His jubilant words echoed:
“My fruits and vegetables can now confidently remain in the frigo van for days. Previously, I had to make the journey to Starmar or other clients on a daily basis—and sometimes, as per their demands, even multiple times within a day. A significant portion of my expenses were tied to transportation. However, owing to the relentless summer heat and the unsuitable conditions of my previous transport vehicle, the produce would frequently be declined by clients due to its lack of freshness upon arrival. Thanks to the new frigo van backed by UNDP, my harvest stays crisp, preserving both valuable time and money. The benefit is twofold: my business flourishes, and my clients revel in the safety and quality of my fare.”
Drawing a vivid juxtaposition with the past, he reminisced about how the program had imparted business acumen. Social media, once an enigma, now stood as a potent tool to bolster his enterprise.
His newfound expertise translated into a staggering 66% growth in revenues. His client roster—prominent restaurants and hotels at Gjiri i Lalsit Bay—grew from 4 to 10, with promising contracts on the horizon.
Proudly, he stated, “The consultancy was invaluable; it transformed me into a shrewd businessperson. I even manage to connect with customers through social media, fostering an online community interested in my produce.
Xhelil, the general manager of STARMAR, the lead in the value chain, says he has witnessed an extraordinary shift in the way Dini conducts his business—a complete transformation. The quality of his produce has notably improved, becoming fresher and safer. Engaging with him reveals a distinct change in his mentality; he now embodies a true entrepreneur with a completely revised business mindset.
I bought fresh vegetables and fruits from Dini. For Hamallaj residents seeking exceptional taste and freshness, I highly recommend Dini for its delicious selection of fruits and vegetables.
Imagine this: A business transformed through comprehensive training, personalized coaching, and unwavering support. A new mindset emerges, paving the way for immense growth.
The UNDP’s Supplier Development Methodology programme stands as a powerful conduit of transformation, connecting individuals and businesses to boundless opportunities for success. It acts as a bridge that spans the gap between aspiration and achievement, acting as a catalyst for growth and progress.
Through meticulous stages and tireless efforts, this programme has shaped remarkable success stories like Dini’s, igniting the flame of resilience and fostering a brighter future. Dini serves as a living example of the immense impact and lasting change that can be achieved through this remarkable initiative.