AULEDA, the Local Economic Development Agency of the Vlora Region in Albania continues to successfully perform its role in strengthening the local economy. Providing services as mapping local resources, sustaining the enterprises in business planning, management and networking, supporting the social economy and the priority economic sectors for regional development as sustainable tourism, agro-food production, fishing and craft, AULEDA serves about 300,000 residents in the seven municipalities of Vlora.
AULEDA is a non-profit and non-governmental organization established in August 2003 in Vlora. It is an independent body, with its own legal structure and functional autonomy, based on a public-private partnership. The AULEDA membership involve the public sector (Regional Council, Prefecture, Municipality of Vlora, local administrations, research centres, universities), the private sector (associations of enterprises, farmers, Chamber of commerce, universities, cultural foundations) and the social sector (associations, NGOs, micro-finance foundations, women federations, young people movements).
The permanent team of AULEDA is composed by 4 professionals and a director. Other 4 technicians and a part-time staff, dedicated to provide services to rural businesses, are contracted through the funds of specific projects that AULEDA manages.
AULEDA mission is to sustain the social, economic, cultural and environmental development of Vlora region, reinforcing and integrating its own resources. Over the last few years the Agency's activity has focused on the promotion of social entrepreneurship, the creation of clusters in the agro-industrial sector, the implementation of professional education programmes and on start ups incubation initiatives, by encouraging innovation and the creation of new local products through its incubator, the AULEDA’s Innovation Center.
In the last 5 years, AULEDA created and sustained more than 250 jobs. It has created more than 58 new SMEs and provided direct technical assistance to other 450 SMEs. It established in 2005 a Guarantee Fund, in agreement with a local financial institution, which has a capital of USD 253,000, and is able to provide credit mainly to people who cannot dispose of collaterals. It improved the biological farming of vegetables, viticulture, fruits, olives, fruits, milk and meat.
Thanks to the commitment of all its members, for example, AULEDA created 6 value chains (medicinal herbs, wool handcraft, olive oil, dairy, wine and viticulture), and supported 8 value chains that have been prioritized for regional development, and formed 3000 persons on new professional skills, of which more than 1/3 are women.
The Agency not only realizes feasibility studies for development initiatives and helps in defining the territorial strategic planning, but also supports the development of local people's capacities and skills in territorial management and the application of participatory methods in regional development decisions. It has trained and supported in planning and managing local economic development 38 local administration and 25 local NGOs. AULEDA has collaborated in the drawing up of the Strategic Plan of the Vlora Region 2010-2020, the Strategic Plan of LAG (Local Action Group) Adrion, the Ecological management Plan for Vlora, Gjirokastra and Natural Park of Prespa, the Monitoring Plan for Vlora Marine Protected area.
In the field of the environment protection, the Agency is playing important role in the Vlora region acting for climate change mitigation according to Kyoto protocol, drafting strategic documents to reduce CO2 emissions in maritime straits and promoting the model of green shipping and inter-modality in maritime and land transport. AULEDA also supported the reforestation process, improving the green areas, creating innovative satellite monitoring systems of environment in Vlora, Gjirokastra and National Park of Prespa, building environmental awareness for 25,000 people of Vlora Region.
AULEDA aims to connect the Vlora region to international opportunities and thus establishing partnerships with thematic networks of the Balkan Region and Europe. For example, it is part of AdriaPan and MEDPAN networks for activities related to environment protection and the GARD network for the empowerment of women in rural areas and the Adriatic Business Angels Network. AULEDA is also part of the ILS LEDA international network of Local Development Agencies.
Furthermore, the Agency participates in following projects founded by the European Union:
- The Trans Edu Net and Blue Skills Projects. AULEDA is working to encourage cooperation and networking between business entities, policy makers and training and education institutions to develop innovative learning system, increase skills and foster entrepreneurial learning in the field of tourism.
- The Passage Interreg Europe project. It aims at promoting consultation between maritime borders so as to take full advantage of the opportunities linked to low-carbon development and “blue” economy.
- The Shipmentt-Adrion project. It aims at establishing an innovation ecosystem focused on the green sea mobility sector across the ADRION area. In the medium-term, the aim is to enhance the investments in regional R&D and increase the competitiveness of the local SMEs.
In the last 5 years AULEDA managed to attract the interest and financial support of many actors investing in Albania and executed 15 projects, for an amount of 2 million Euros, thanks to the cooperation with more than 10 national and international organizations: European Union, United Nations Development Program, SWISS Cooperation, Regional Environmental Centre REC, Italian Cooperation, USAID, among others.
In 2012 AULEDA has been recognized by the Albanian Agency for Research, Technology and Innovation AKTI as one of the innovations of the National Catalogue of Innovations for Human Development in Albania. AULEDA is currently providing technical assistance to Gjirokastra regional administration in its idea of creating a Regional Economic Development Agency.