A woman from Berat has won the European Union’s Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM) award 2021 for her work in stimulating local businesses.
Erilda Krasi is the co-founder of 1001 Albanian Adventures, a sustainable tour operator in Berat which employs youngsters, and works tirelessly to promote local products and the region. Alongside her work, Erilda works with a range of local artisans to promote and sell their products both locally and further afield.
ARLEM is a group of local and regional representatives from the EU and other Mediterranean partners. It was established in 2010 by the European Committee of the Regions along with various active organizations in applicable countries.
Member countries include Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Israel, Palestine, and Montenegro. Aims include promoting local democracy, cooperation, exchanging ideas and knowledge, and promoting regional integration and cohesion.
Krase beat more than two dozen other candidates and businesses from the region in the third edition of the award. It recognizes her work with 1001 Albanian Adventures as an example of sustainable and responsible tourism that is helping to regenerate the local economic fabric and urban environment.
In a statement after receiving the award, she said:
“This prize came as a ray of hope in this difficult period for the whole world, especially for the small business operating in tourism. It transmits a strong encouraging message that hard work will be rewarded and we come out stronger after difficulties. Thank you for this opportunity, thank you for a new window ‘opened’ for us!”
She set up the business while still studying at university. Mother to twin boys, she said the main reason for setting up the company was the heartbreaking sight of seeing friends leave the country to find work abroad. She wanted to focus on attracting young people to work with her.
Krasi also set up the Solidarity Shop Berat which sells products made by those with special needs or coming from a position of disadvantage, as well as those from farmers and artisans. Her company promotes walking and cycling tours, camping, and adventures in eco and agrotourism. She has also organized clean-up litter campaigns and been involved in installing litter bins.
Four other entrepreneurs were shortlisted for the ARLEM award: Ahmed El Sadi of Blue Filter, a waste-water treatment company in Palestine; Amal Labriny, who runs an agricultural cooperative in Morocco; Mustapha Samir Laoufi, who established a solar-panel company in Algeria; and Abdelkader Zerrougui, manager of a water and waste management company in Algeria.