Kosovo, and particularly its bustling capital of Pristina, has long struggled with high levels of air pollution, especially in winter. So the country is looking into ways to reduce vehicle emissions by investing in a new public transport fleet and infrastructure.
Adding to this effort are some small, innovative enterprises who see it as a business opportunity, too.
One of them is Electric Mobility, which has recognised the untapped market potential and invested in becoming the first taxi company in Pristina with the fleet consisting of only electric cars.
“Our company stands out for its commitment to sustainability and innovation,” says Fidan Hallaqi, founder and CEO of Electric Mobility. “We are proud to be the first electric taxi company in Kosovo.”
Electric Mobility’s investment was financed by a loan secured from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) through Raiffeisen Leasing Kosovo, a local partner financial institution. Once Electric Mobility had carried out the investment, it received a 15 per cent cash-back grant from the European Union (EU).
With support from the EBRD’s Advice for Small Businesses, the company has also developed a mobility-sharing platform to help digitalise all of its processes. The platform allows Electric Mobility to collect data about every journey and customer, track results and make changes on the go.
The credit line is part of the SME Competitiveness Support Programme, which helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access finance and invest in areas such as environmental protection, health and safety, and product and service quality. More than 170 SMEs in Kosovo have benefited from the programme to date. In addition to grant incentives and advice provided to SMEs, the programme also offers technical assistance in project preparation and application process to partner financial institutions. This technical assistance is also financed by the European Union.
“Investing in green technologies saves costs and makes businesses more competitive in local and EU markets. Also, sustainable mode of transportation, such as electric vehicles, improves the air quality in Pristina and reduce demand for fossil fuels. Helping local businesses become greener and more competitive is one of our main priorities in Kosovo,” explains Sergiy Maslichenko, EBRD Head of Kosovo.
“Under the ongoing SME Competitiveness Support Programme the European Union provided a grant of €6 million under the national Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) only for Kosovo. Whereas, under the regional IPA WBIF the EU provided €30 million to the Programme for Western Balkan region including Kosovo. The programme helps Kosovo SMEs to increase and improve their processes and quality. The Electric Mobility is one of 170 local SMEs that have successfully implemented investment projects and improved their competitiveness through this programme”, noted Johannes Stenbaek Madsen, Head of Cooperation Section, European Union in Kosovo.
Greener and more comfortable
Electric Mobility now operates a fleet composed entirely of electric vehicles under a brand called ETAXI. The cars are emission free and comfortable for customers.
Since Electric Mobility started its business with electric cars just nine months ago, the company has registered over 15,000 active users and has completed more than 67,000 journeys, with a total combined distance of over 605,650 kilometres.
“Our clients are mainly young people who care about the environment, and the EBRD has helped us appeal to them by digitalising our operations and the client experience by developing an app for taxi booking and real-time tracking,” explains Fidan.
Beyond the local market, Electric Mobility plans to establish franchises in other countries, starting with North Macedonia next year.
Other means of transport are also in the company’s plans; the launch of Pristina’s first micro-mobility service, an e-scooter sharing network, is imminent. This is a potential game-changer for Kosovo’s capital, which should help reduce traffic and air pollution even more.
The streets of Pristina are regularly gridlocked at rush hour, which increases vehicle emissions and ambient air pollution, and makes travelling across the city cumbersome.
Fidan says: “It takes 15 to 20 minutes to walk across central Pristina, so e-scooters will provide people with a more sustainable and faster way to travel while avoiding traffic and having fun. The plan is to start in a few neighbourhoods and then expand.”
Once the e-scooters have been launched, residents will have a cheap, clean and convenient alternative to travelling and commuting around the capital.