The story of Feride: Thriving against all odds.

UNDP Albania

April 5, 2024
The story of Feride: Thriving against all odds.

Ever come across a woman rocking the car wash business? I have not. If you're curious like me, let me take you into Feride's journey.  It is a journey of determination, tailored support, and the pursuit of a better life for her and her family.

At just 22 years old, she found herself back in her hometown after seeking asylum in France. 

Now she was a young mother faced with the challenging task of overcoming financial difficulties.

Limited options and no prior formal work experience only made things harder.

One day, through a friend, she heard of an opportunity coming from UNDP targeting people like her who have returned from migration. 

The story of Feride: Thriving against all odds.

“UNDP, in collaboration with Berat Municipality and the National Agency for Employment and Skills, initiated a public call and hosted a startup competition to foster entrepreneurship among returnees," explains Mirjeta Ramizi, the project manager. 

Feride seized the opportunity, submitting her business proposal to establish a car-washing service. Fortunately, she emerged as a successful candidate. With UNDP's support, successful applicants like Feride received financial backing of up to 500,000 Albanian Leke (roughly EUR 4,300) for their startups. 

This seed funding enabled Feride to acquire necessary tools and equipment for her venture. 

The project team mobilized a network of experts that supported Feride and other new start-ups in critical areas such as product and service design, marketing and promotion, and the introduction of quality assurance systems, accounting, and financial services, among others.

Additionally, she participated in entrepreneurship and business development training sessions, alongside receiving valuable mentoring support.

“I did not know where to start. I only had the idea and the dream attached to that. The project guided me in every step of the way and helped me transform my idea into a business”-says Feride.

With the support she received, Feride's vision began to take shape, laying the foundation for what would soon evolve into a family business. 

Their journey, however, encountered its fair share of challenges. 

Picture an industry primarily dominated by males. Transitioning from migrant to entrepreneur presented its unique set of obstacles, exacerbated by the difficulties of reintegrating into a society characterized by economic uncertainty and stigma. 

Nevertheless, equipped with vital support from the project and unwavering determination, Feride and her husband pressed forward, transforming obstacles into avenues for growth and empowerment.

The support to Feride was made possible through a regional project. "Strengthening national and local systems to support the effective socio-economic integration of returnees in the Western Balkans," funded by the European Union and implemented by UNDP.

A total of 55 returnees like Feride have benefitted from starts ups in Berat and Fier and Devoll. 

“Supporting the inclusion of vulnerable returnees in the labour market through start-ups is serving as an effective tool for the socio-economic reintegration of returnees. This is also helping improve social cohesion within entire local communities””-says Entela Lako, UNDP Programme Specialist.

The project has emerged as a lifeline for individuals like Feride and over 900 other people through life, digital and technical vocational skills development, employment, self-employment, social care, administrative and legal support and in many other integrated types of assistance. 

Through tailored support and training in essential skills, financial management, and business development, it empowered returnees to chart their own course towards self-sufficiency and success.

Operating within the broader context of significant return migration from the European Union to the Western Balkans, the project addressed the root causes driving outward migration, including limited job prospects, precarious employment, and concerns regarding access to essential services. By strengthening the rights and opportunities of vulnerable communities, such as the Roma, across Albania, North Macedonia, and Serbia, it fostered an environment conducive to sustainable reintegration and long-term prosperity.


With determination, and tailored support, Feride not only reshaped her own destiny but also inspired others to seize the endless possibilities within their reach.

The story of Feride: Thriving against all odds.

Feride stands as living proof that women can indeed thrive in traditionally male-dominated industries, as well as in all others.