Inclusion and Economic Empowerment in the Western Balkans (SOE10)

The German government will support the economic development of five of the Western Balkan countries, namely, Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia to improve living conditions of marginalized, vulnerable groups in the Western Balkans through programs through capacity building, learning and innovation with and amongst intermediary institutions and cross-border cooperation.

Help will implement the regional project “Inclusion and Economic Empowerment in the Western Balkans” throughout the year 2023 until the end of 2024.

The overall goal of the program is to contribute to the reduction of social and economic exclusion of vulnerable groups in the Western Balkans region through economic empowerment and supporting the social-economic inclusion of vulnerable groups.

Objective 1: Regional cooperation and development

Objective 2: Conditions for new jobs created through the Green Growth Grants scheme and appropriate capacity-building training

Objective 3: Contribute to better resocialization of convicts in prison systems through working engagement and capacity building of convicts and employees of the Correctional Institutions

Objective 4: local community initiatives to support improved access and inclusion of vulnerable categories

Project components that will be implemented in Kosovo that will lead to the inclusion and economic empowerment of vulnerable groups are:

  • Green Growth Grants enhancing development, digital and green economy with a focus on entrepreneurship and green practices
  • Provision of business and vocational trainings
  • Training and resocialization programs in correctional institutions
  • Support workshops within the Kosovo Correctional Service
  • Start-up support for former convicts
  • Community-level initiatives to improve the living conditions of vulnerable groups and advance the inclusion of vulnerable social groups
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Title: Reconomy Project


Project number: SOE-11

Title:  “Digitalization of sectors with growth potential for better economic opportunities”

Donor: Helvetas

Duration:  01.07.2023 to 31.12.2026

Budget:      Euro 1.980.258,55

Area:          Western Balkan countries: Albania, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia

Project Coordinator: Klaus Mock

General Objective:   to achieve sustainable, large-scale and socially inclusive impact through systemic change and acting in a facilitative role towards stakeholders and beneficiaries.

Specific Objective:

  • Women and youth, including the most disadvantaged and excluded, benefit from improved economic opportunities (better income and green and decent jobs) inclusively and sustainably
  • to contribute to an increased level of regional cooperation among the WB countries

Description:  Help has been working in Western Balkan to enhance living conditions and support social inclusion of marginalized population groups. As part of the cooperation with HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation (‘Helvetas in the following’) the Regional Programme Digitalization of sectors with growth potential for better economic opportunities” in Western Balkans which is funded Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) was launched.

Helvetas and Help are committed to leveraging their organisational capacities and resources to the best possible manner and supporting each other in fulfilling the stated objectives and obligations towards Sida. They are guided by the shared ambition to achieve sustainable, large-scale and socially inclusive impact through systemic change and acting in a facilitative role towards stakeholders and beneficiaries. The partnership adheres to principles of good governance (transparency, accountability, participation, non-discrimination, efficiency) and builds on mutual trust and respect.

The vision statement of the joint activity is for sector representatives to benefit from economic opportunities and contribute to local economic development by advancing knowledge and skills, increasing market access, sales and income.

The lack of cooperation between ICT companies and other industries is hindering the development of new products and services in the Western Balkans. This problem is compounded by technological underdevelopment, low investment in key sectors such as agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing, and limited digitalization skills among the workforce.

Climate-dependent industries, such as agriculture and tourism, face significant challenges due to climate change, unsustainable natural resource management, and energy issues. Households engaged in these industries are particularly vulnerable to such events. Failure to meet environmental standards in the supply chain and adapt to growing consumer demand for sustainability may lead to lower household income and further impoverishment of small family businesses.

To address these challenges, it is important to promote greater cooperation between the ICT industry and other sectors, as well as to invest in technological development and digitalization skills. Furthermore, efforts should be made to build resilience in climate-dependent industries through the adoption of climate-resilient practices and resource-efficient production methods

Main activities:

  1. Implementation of Market System Analysis
  2. Identification of potential cooperating partners (Market Actors)
  3. Identification of appropriate interventions
  4. Monitoring of interventions implemented by selected Market actors
  5. Reporting to Helvetas                                                             


ECONOMIC SECTOR / MARKET – Information communication and technology (ICT), Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) SUPPORTING FUNCTION/RULE – Skills development, financial and business services, coordination
TIME FRAME & PLACE – August 2020 – April 2022 Western Balkans
CO-FACILITATION PARTNER – Help – Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe e.V


This pilot idea focuses on regionally replicating and improving successful models from Albania and Bosnia & Herzegovina in the ICT and BPO sectors in Serbia, North Macedonia, Kosovo & Montenegro. The pilot idea also builds on (a) the proposal submitted by Hilfe which the Sida program selection committee evaluated and (b) complementary assessments of ideas generated by the Sida program in June and July as part of designing the program.


The ICT-BPO pilot effectively responds to the critical constraints and create a Western Balkan ‘value proposition’. This in practice means branding of the region by stimulating the competitiveness of private sector enterprises and creating a critical mass by attracting more services and clients. This is expected to generate more inclusive and sustainable benefits for women and young people as well as other disadvantaged and excluded groups.

The pilot facilitates:

1. Access to better functioning business services (e.g. information /research and knowledge generation),
2. The supply of skilled workforce (with better employability or freelancing) demanded by the private sector and facilitation of participation on the freelance brokering platforms, and the improvement of the membership organizations’ business development to link domestic companies and foreign clients as well as an advocate towards a regional brand for the promotion of the BPO sector.

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