USAID/ Albania and CBS kick-off Brand Albania Project to Develop a National Umbrella Brand for Authentic Albanian Agro food Products

USAID and Creative Business Solutions (CBS) launched the Brand Albania project, aiming to provide support for agro businesses and development of tourism in Albania.

Brand Albania Kick-off Event took place on February 28 at Hotel Plaza in Tirana and gathered more than 70 guests from over 30 organizations, including the USAID Mission Director Dr. Catherine Johnson, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Mr. Niko Peleshi, Minister of Tourism and Environment Mr. Blendi Klosi and their two Vice Ministers Mr. Ilir Halilaj and Mr. Hajrulla Çeku as well as World Bank's Ms. Maryam Salim, EBRD's Mr. Matteo Colangeli, EU Delegation's Ms. Nadia Kyuchukova, several representatives from GIZ, to name a few.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Niko Peleshi, Minister of Tourism and Environment, Mr. Blendi Klosi and USAID Albania Mission Director, Dr. Catherine Johnson, discussed the importance of the project and the important role of agriculture and tourism for the development of the Albanian economy. Brand Albania aims to boost agro tourism through the promotion of quality authentic Albanian products such as olive oil, mountain tea, medicinal and aroma plants considered some of Albania’s rarest riches.

Brand Albania project is organized as and will be implemented through a three-tier structure: Steering Committee of key stakeholders for participatory input, decision-making, and leadership; the Advisory Body, that will provide expertise on specific products, sectors or regions; and the Observers Group, consisting of donor organizations, meant to oversee the activities of the project and its sustainability.

Seven public and private institutions have been selected to become the members of the Steering Committee and will consolidate efforts to successfully implement the Brand Albania Project. These include the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of Tourism and Environment, the Albanian-American Development Foundation, the Albanian Tourism Association, General Directorate of Industrial Property, and Agriculture University of Tirana, Ms. Dhurata Thanasi-Daneri, an authentic food specialist.

The key project goals are:

- Brand Albania to become a platform for projects, initiatives and organizations working in the agriculture, tourism and agro-tourism sectors for more effective dialogue on the national level
- Mapping of existing related or similar initiatives, events, products, etc.
- Establishment of a national umbrella brand that will promote local quality products and related tourism initiatives as well as improve opportunities for local SME producers
- Improved awareness of the necessity and benefits of international standards and certifications, increasing the quality of the products and opportunities for future exports

The official part was followed by the reception, where the attendees had an opportunity to taste some of the Albanian authentic food products. The products have been kindly provided by Ms. Dhurata Thanasi-Daneri and the owner of an authentic food shop, Luga e Argjendte and Ms. Silvana Pinari-Subashi from Olive Oil Association and the owner of Subashi Company.

Note*. Under the auspices of the USAID's Regional Economic Growth (REG) program, USAID/Albania, along with its Local Implementation Partner Creative Business Solutions (CBS), has launched a project to develop a national brand for authentic Albanian food products. The project, through a $500,000
Regional Economic Growth (REG) buy-in, will provide direct technical assistance to the private sector, while encouraging support and collaboration with the Government of Albania's (GoA) to establish "Brand Albania", a brand umbrella organization that promotes local quality products and related tourism initiatives.