A Taste of success: The Story of Agromeljon

UNDP Albania

March 25, 2024
A Taste of success: The Story of Agromeljon

I encountered Armela in a charming little shop, a hidden gem nestled amidst the cobblestone streets of Berat's ancient city. The moment I stepped inside, I was greeted by the delightful aroma of freshly crafted jams.

As she welcomed me and my colleagues with a warm smile, I couldn't help but be drawn to the array of artisanal products on display. Armela graciously offered us bites of her creations: nut, peach, and cherry jams. With each taste, I embarked on a culinary journey unlike any other, where every bite spoke of mastery, love, and pursuit of excellence.

A Taste of success: The Story of Agromeljon

Bites of Amela's creations: nut, peach, and cherry jams. 

But it wasn't just the exquisite flavors that captivated me; it was the story behind each jar and the story of Armela herself—her passion and relentless determination for excellence. 

Armela, young, smart, and driven, graciously shared the story of her small yet thriving business—a narrative that resonated deeply within me.

And now, as I recount her journey to you, I invite you to join me on a voyage through the heart and soul of Agromeljon—a journey filled with challenges and triumphs, and above all, the spirit of a woman determined to carve her own path in the world of artisanal delights.

Agromeljon was established by Armela Qendro, a 28-year-old food technologist by profession who returned to Berat after completing her studies in Italy. Driven by a deep-rooted desire to run her own business, Armela, with the support of her partner Arjon, established Agromeljon, specializing in the craft of organic jams, tomato sauces, vinegar, and dried fruit-based products.

A Taste of success: The Story of Agromeljon

Dried figs of Agromeljon. 

The raw materials, meticulously sourced from local farmers in Karkanjoz, a picturesque village at the foothills of the majestic Tomorri Mountain, imbue each creation with a sense of authenticity and love for the land.

Despite facing numerous challenges such as fluctuating sales volumes and limited marketing expertise, Armela remained determined to succeed. When she learned about UNDP's "Growing with Your Business" methodology, she seized the opportunity for growth and embarked on a transformative journey of learning and development.

Growing with Your Business (GYB) is an international business-support tool, that has been successfully applied by UNDP in over 12 different countries over the past 15 years. It focuses mainly on small and medium-sized enterprises and aims to improve their business management skills, upgrading their capacities to expand their market and integrate more effectively into local, national, and international value chains.

With the support of the Berat Municipality, GYB was piloted with 8 businesses in Berat, marking its debut implementation in Albania.

Throughout the 6-month intervention period, Armela benefited from the expertise of a dedicated business consultant who provided personalized, one-on-one coaching and comprehensive business consultancy tailored to her specific needs.

"Investing in equipment through the UNDP grant was vital in improving productivity and maintaining impeccable hygiene standards," Armela remarked, reflecting on the impact of the initiative.

The acquisition of machinery, including a nutcracker, sauce-making equipment, fruit-grinding machines, and stainless-steel containers, revolutionized their production process, allowing for greater efficiency and quality control.

A Taste of success: The Story of Agromeljon

Packed dried fruits with a new branding thanks to the Growing with Your Business methodology. 

Expanding their B2B customer base and actively participating in local and national fairs, through UNDP’s support, further bolstered Agromeljon's brand visibility and market reach.

"It's not just about selling products; it's about forging meaningful connections and sharing our story with the world," Armela emphasized, her eyes sparkling with passion.

Despite the challenges along the way, Armela and her team tirelessly worked towards achieving and surpassing their goals. Improving compliance with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and implementing the 5S protocol for workplace productivity ensured adherence to quality standards, garnering trust and loyalty among customers.

The tangible transformation was reflected in the doubling of monthly sales, the acquisition of four new business clients in strategic locations in Berat, Tirana & Vlora, and an impressive 85% increase in compliance with GMP protocols. Agromeljon's brand identity underwent a remarkable upgrade, with redesigned product labels and a strong presence on social media platforms, captivating audiences far and wide.

Alketa Skëndaj, the experienced business consultant who has guided Armela in the 6-month programme journey remarks “The program’s focus on upgrading small enterprises and supporting them forge solid, long-term connections with the market have been vital to Agromeljon’s growth. The capacities acquired through the programme will be paramount to Agromeljon’s ongoing expansion”.

A Taste of success: The Story of Agromeljon

The packages of Agromeljon now have a new identity.

As we bid farewell to Armela, she left me with a profound statement: "Our journey is far from over," her gaze fixed on the horizon. "With every challenge comes an opportunity for growth, and withstrong determination, we shall continue to write the story of Agromeljon, one jar at a time."