Within the program of the jubilee year ‘15 years of ECNWM’, we bring you the interview conducted with the second chairman of the ECNWM Mr. Menderes Kuçi.
What were the challenges of the Albanian business in the period when you won the mandate of the president of ECNWM?
At that time, the Albanian business was just beginning to be established and to take the deserved position in the national and international market, but it was always ignored and did not have the proper institutional support. On the contrary, informality and dependence on the political factor were stimulated, it was noticed that there was no mutual cooperation between companies with Albanian owners, and they did not even know each other because they were not organized enough in the existing economic chambers, because they did not trust them, much less the state institutions, because they were treated by the state as orphans who always had to be held accountable and never asked what they lacked and what their needs were for the further development of their companies. At the time, they did not even believe that the ECNWM could be their voice, but over time they realized that only together and in an organized way they could achieve their goals. Often the Albanian political factor had its own prejudices and didn’t protect the Albanian businesses often and if it did, it did so selectively and individually, because the voice of the ECNWM was still not heard enough.
What was the direction that your strategy and program as President gave to ECNWM and how much did it help the business with its problems?
At that time, my strategy was to increase the number of members of the chamber with regional geographical extent as much as possible, as the steering committee was created, giving the task to each member of the committee. that within a month to bring at least 10 companies, their associates or business friends operating in their city while I as the president had to provide double, so that afterwards we could work on increasing the staff of the institution with professional staff, opening its doors to the absorption of various funds that were allocated for these purposes and which at that time were used very little. All this would then pave the way for the ECNWM to factorize itself in relation to other chambers and the government itself.
With this, the institutional cooperation was intensified, and the problems of companies began to be addressed directly in the relevant ministries, even those run by non-Albanian cadres, although at that time there was a regime system which was loudly criticized only by this institution for the negative phenomena that affected the country’s economy such as unequal development, non-return of VAT, unequal treatment of local investors in relation to foreign ones, non-investment in infrastructure, ie capital investments that depended on the budget, etc …
The establishment of ECNWM in the countryin that period of time and the perception of the business and of the opinion for it?
I think that at that time, with the factorization of the ECNWM, the trust of businesses began to return and not only in this institution which proved itself as apolitical and immune to any influence of politics, whether in position or opposition, but for the first time Albanian political parties began to talk about the economy and this thanks to the economic platform that the ECNWM had prepared as a long-term strategy for the country’s economic development. This aroused the curiosity of many media in the country but also of the Macedonian opposition and thus a standard was created for the chamber to be frequented by political entities before each election cycle, and for the first time, every ambassador that was appointed always visited the chamber and thus to create conditions for cooperation with the diaspora as well as with foreign investors and all this thanks to the very close and correct cooperation with the institution of the president of state, which has been present at every important event in the country or abroad,a cooperation that until then did not even exist formally, and now I have a normal inter-institutional relationship that is evidenced by the cooperation with the current president and now a normal inter-institutional relationship has been established, as evidenced by the cooperation with the current head of state.
The most prominent elements of your leadership period with the institution?
As the most prominent elements, I would like to single out the presentation of the most successful and largest companies through the Top 100 catalog, which later became traditional and motivating for companies to be part of this catalog and to be proud of being members of the ECNWM. Then the representation of companies and the chamber in various business forums as well as numerous media debate panels, where the chamber as an institution is highly valued. Afterwards, the campaign on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the independence of the Albanian state with the motto “consume local products,” where for the first time it was supported by Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, as well as Presevo and Bujanovac, in which case, the first fair of this kind was organized in the center of Skopje, which was attended by the two presidents of the states, the Albanian and the Macedonian.
I must add at the end that all this activity could not be realized without the excellent cooperation with the first chairman of the chamber and the constructive approach he had as chairman of the assembly and the board, in particular the success is dedicated to the professional staff of the chamber who later on proved themselves by becoming part of the executive of the following governments, for which I am very grateful because it has not been easy to cooperate with me as a President.