EBRD and EU support fashion studio in North Macedonia

By Bojana Vlajcic

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Investment in solar panels helps EMILI exclusive design cut electricity bills

North Macedonia may be best known for its great wineries, delicious traditional cuisine and beautiful scenery such as Lake Ohrid, but a young generation of entrepreneurs is adding a new quality to the “made in North Macedonia” label.

Two of these entrepreneurs are Emili Pisheva Godjirova and her sister Blagica Pisheva, who run EMILI exclusive design, an haute couture studio in Strumica, North Macedonia.

Emili started making clothes for herself and her sister when she was 14. After high school and many sewing classes she and Blagica decided to turn their passion for fashion into a profitable business. They opened a studio in 2001 and have built up their business into a well-known fashion label of North Macedonia.

“We specialise in designing and making wedding dresses and evening gowns. Everything is handmade with lots of embroidery so it’s very time consuming,” Emili explains. “One dress can take several days to produce.”

Over the years their creations have attracted many customers – not just from North Macedonia but also from beyond the country’s borders in places such as Bulgaria, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and even the USA and Australia.

In 2013 they opened a new fashion house, which provides the perfect setting for designing lavish wedding and glamourous dresses. The building also includes a showroom with ready-made creations.

From consumer to prosumer  

“When we started expanding our business we became much more aware of operational costs. We realised that electricity was one of our biggest monthly expenses, and so we started thinking about how we could reduce them. This is where the idea of investing in solar panels came from.” 

Emili applied for a loan at Ohridska bank to finance the investment in solar panels. She also received a grant from the EU.

“The solar panels that have been installed produce 15.84 kWh, which is the amount of electricity we need for production. And after recent changes in legislation we can now return some electricity to the network and receive additional payment for that,” Emili explains.

Boosting competitiveness

Investing in green, energy-saving technologies can help small businesses cut their operational costs and improve productivity. It also means that they comply with various EU and international standards, making their businesses and products more competitive in local and external markets.

The EBRD and EU support local businesses across the Western Balkans in becoming more competitive by extending specialised credit lines and incentive grants through a network of local partner banks.

“Investing in renewables and energy saving measures can make business more competitive in EU markets, especially in view of the announced EU carbon border adjustment mechanism,” explains Andi Aranitasi, EBRD Head of North Macedonia. “This will be a powerful incentive for Western Balkans economies and companies to decarbonise given that the EU is by far the dominant trading partner for the region."

The EU provides grant incentives to encourage businesses to invest in energy saving measures.

“We are especially pleased to see grant funding from the EU contributing to improving energy management in the fashion industry, knowing that around 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions comes from clothing and footwear production,” explains David Geer, Head of the EU Delegation to North Macedonia.

“By investing in energy efficiency, small businesses are helping North Macedonia to accelerate its transition to a low carbon economy. In addition, increased investment in energy efficiency cuts the cost of operations, allowing companies to grow and invest in other aspects of the business.”

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