Kosovo is becoming well known for high-quality and well-designed furniture, and many local producers are seeking to export to European countries as demand increases.
One of them is Berto Shpk, better known as “Ciao Berto”, one of the country’s top three producers. The company has become synonymous with high-quality wood furniture products. Distinctive furniture pieces, bedroom and dining-room furniture and even windows and doors are part of its wide range of products.
“The client is the light that leads us on the road to success,” says Bashkim Krasniqi, CEO of Ciao Berto. “We have learned to listen and respond to our clients’ needs with flexibility in our operations and creativity in implementation. In 2018, our 1,500 m2 production plant became too small. We decided to build a new and modern facility and applied for a loan at a local bank.”
This €300,000 investment was financed with a loan under the Kosovo SME Competitiveness Support Programme, a credit line provided by the EBRD through local partner banks, together with a 15 per cent grant and free technical assistance funded by the European Union. The Programme helps SMEs identify the investments they need to upgrade in line with European Union (EU) Directives in areas such as energy efficiency, health and safety, and product quality.
Berto’s investment also included energy-efficient equipment and electrical installation, as well as the latest-generation machines to support a healthy working environment.
“Our production process requires a large amount of energy, especially since we switched to a 10,000 m2 production plant, which is why it is important to work with energy-saving technologies”, says Mr. Krasniqi. “We are particularly proud that we acquired high-tech dust-aspiration equipment, which will vastly reduce our workers’ exposure to dust and chemicals released during production. It is extremely important to provide a healthy environment for our employees while our business is growing.”
Aligning with EU standards for greater competitiveness
Ciao Berto has not only reduced its carbon footprint while increasing its business, but also now complies with relevant EU Directives, enabling the company to expand into European markets.
“Being close to the EU market presents a great opportunity, as well as a challenge, for Kosovo’s businesses, as they need to adapt to EU market requirements and standards,” says Johannes Stenbaek Madsen, EU Head of Cooperation in Kosovo. “This is why we support local businesses in investing in new equipment and technologies that can allow them to reach those standards and become more competitive as exporters.”
The EBRD has been working together with the EU to reach more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Kosovo and help them to become more competitive.
“We are united with our partners, the EU and local banks, in helping SMEs to grow, strengthen their ability to export to the EU and speed up the transition to a greener, more sustainable economy”, says Neil Taylor, EBRD Head of Kosovo.