When the passion for cooking turns into strength to survive earthquakes and pandemics

Rudina, a mother of 3, has been a cook since forever. As soon as you step in her small restaurant, besides the smell of the delicious food, you also feel a positive energy and plenty of love. You can feel that vibe even when you talk with her partner in business and life, Ilir, who proudly tells everyone how special Rudina is.

Rudina Nilo at her restaurant. Photo credits: UNDP Albania

After living in Athens for 10 years, Rudina and her family returned to Albania. The small fruit and vegetable store, which they opened near their house, didn’t help them afford life in Tirana, despite working every day tirelessly and nonstop. Yet, she hoped for a better life. 

“The best cook in the world!” – these were the heartfelt words that Rudina would hear every day from her children. This pushed her towards a new adventure: opening her own restaurant. The intensive cooking courses she undertook helped her be better prepared for her new initiative.

The business of Rudina and Ilir is located in the area of ​​Astir, Municipality of Tirana, and was known as simply a “Gjelltore”.

“When we opened the restaurant we didn’t quite know what was ahead of us. Only 2-3 months after we started, the devastating earthquake of 2019 caused severe damages in the area. We were forced to close business. It was a shock for all of us, something that we will never forget”, says Rudina.

As if the earthquake was not enough, COVID struck which only made things worse. “The pandemic took a heavy toll on our business. We couldn’t even offer Delivery service and we were forced to close it due to the measures taken by the government. We were both unemployed, but we still had to pay the rent, taxes, and insurance.”

One day Rudina learned about In Motion Programme, which helps micro-businesses-heavily affected by the earthquake and the pandemic, with grants for business equipment, modernization of the commercial image. Moreover, she learned of the personalized assistance offered with the aim of  improving business management skills. And all that was required from businesses was for them to participate in the capacity building programs.

Rudina and Ilir attended group trainings and individual meetings with business and commercial image experts. “In every group training and individual consulting, we have been very active and eager to get as much as possible information from the experts. We consider the participation in this program as a great opportunity and vital for our business continuation.” says Rudina.

During the individual meetings with the business consultants. Photo credits: UNDP Albania
“Te Rudi” restaurant. Photo credits: UNDP Albania

“I am very grateful for the assistance provided by IN Motion. The project is helping us take our business to the next level. The earthquake and the pandemic put us in a tight corner and we often thought to close it down. In Motion is the reason why we are still open.” says Rudina.

After many sessions of training and personalized assistance from the business experts and the commercial image expert, now Rudina’s business has a new name and a whole new brand: “Te Rudi”. Also, in addition to visual changes, Rudina and her husband have also been provided with new equipment, to maximize the effects of technical assistance and support.

The business of Rudina and Ilir is not the only one that has benefited from #INMotion. 34 other businesses in the area of ​​Astir, Municipality of Tirana, are being supported as well.

In Motion in Astir is part of the Economic Recovery and Resilience Programme (ERR), which is implemented by UNDP and supported by the Municipality of Tirana. ERR is funded by the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of the Netherlands.

If you ever go to Astir, do look for a restaurant called “te Rudi”. You will be served with love.

Rudina and Iliri at their restaurant. Photo Credits: UNDP Albania
“Te Rudi” restaurant. Photo credits: UNDP Albania
“Te Rudi” restaurant. Photo credits: UNDP Albania

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