Nordic investments in Albania, the coast the main attraction

For the head of “NordicInvestGroup” Bujar Zhuri, Albanian legislation has made improvements in strategies for attracting foreign investors but there is still work to do. Bujar Zhuri is one of the most successful Albanians in Norway. With more than 25 years of experience in international business, for several years now, he has turned his attention to his motherland, enabling the implementation of various international projects in our country. At the head of “NordicInvestGroup” Company, currently a member of the Albanian Diaspora Business Chamber, he highlights the importance of participating in the union of Albanian investors, businessmen and entrepreneurs in Albania and outside the country.

Zhuri, you are one of the first members of the Albanian Diaspora Business Chamber. How important is for you the membership in such a structure fully dedicated to Albanian investors, businessmen, entrepreneurs in the Diaspora? I think that the membership in this structure is highly important for the fact that through this structure Albanian investors and others can increase the opportunities for cooperating with each other, as well as can get the accurate information about legislation and investment opportunities in their motherland.  It has been 26 years since you moved to Norway. Your field of study has not been very focused in the business world, how did you get involved in business? I have graduated from several universities.

I studied teaching, law and I have many qualifications in pedagogy and psychology. I worked as a teacher in Norwegian schools for over 14 years and in 2007 I changed my professional profile. Noticing the developments in the region, especially those in Slovenia and Croatia I thought of promoting Albania in one of the largest media in Norway. I collaborated with the “Aftenposten” newspaper which published the article “Albania as a good investment opportunity.” After the publication, many locals contacted me, as they were very interested in Albania. Because of this interest, I together with some of my Norwegian friends opened a consulting and investment company, through, which we managed to bring the first group of Norwegian investors in Albania, a group of 32 investors.

My goal was to turn the cities of Saranda and Vlora into an oasis of Scandinavians. It was not easy, however we achieved the goal. Today, we can say that these two cities are the favorite destination of Nordic tourists. I can also say that about 600 Norwegians have invested in real estate and apartments in Saranda.

But this is only the beginning. You have managed to bring in Albania international investors…

With the project of Devoll, we managed to bring on one of the largest projects that Albania currently has, “Statkraft” Company. This is a company that has invested more than 1 billion dollars on investments in Albania. This is a great success for me. Also, I can proudly say that we have brought hundreds of Norwegians and Scandinavians who have invested and bought houses in Saranda, Vlora and Durrës. There is a thought that integration and successful achievements in areas like business is difficult for Nordic socities. What is your secret of success? Indeed, it is not easy to bring Norwegian or Scandinavian investors in Albania. However, the most important thing is the professionalism and skills to show the reality, the pros and cons of Albania.

After “Statkraft”, what do you see as the next step?

Currently, I am working for a large project in agriculture, which will be a Norwegian project and investment of several million euros for production and export to EU. For this investment, my company is in co-operation with a powerful group of Norwegian investors, who own several farms around the world. It has been three decades since after the biggest emigration wave of Albania. Many of those who left the country in the ‘90s, like you, are currently important entrepreneurs in the countries where they live. This entrepreneurs’ category are organized in structures like the Global Diaspora Business Union, which you are part of.  Can we say that there are talks about investing in the motherland?
Of course there are. This is the purpose of the Global Diaspora Business Union.
What do you think are the most potential sectors of interest to Diaspora investors?
The coast and the constructions on the coast are the greatest potentials and certainly the greatest interests of the Diaspora investors. As of the practices for starting a business here, investing or cooperating with a foreign investor, do you think that the current system is efficient? I think that the Albanian legislation has made improvements by approaching EU standards. Something that needs urgent intervention is the image of our country and the attitude of administration toward foreign investors. And finally, what would you say to an Albanian entrepreneur/ businessmen/ investor, inside or outside the country, who wants to be part of the Albanian Diaspora Business Chamber but has not decided yet? The membership at the Albanian Diaspora Business Chamber should be seen as connecting meeting point between locals and Diaspora investors.

Joint workshops would make this collaboration even more interesting.