A sweet affair in Kosovo*Sep 15, 2015
On 8 September 2015, locals and officials gathered to celebrate the launch of the first social enterprise in the municipality of Strpce/Sterpce, The Association of Raspberry Producers.
The association works to cultivate raspberries and other small berries which are processed into artisanal juices. It was developed under the scope of a project supported by the Austrian Development Agency, UNDP and the municipality of Strpce/Sterpce.
As with any other social enterprise, the association employs a commercial strategy to achieve social development. The project targets vulnerable groups to provide them with work skills and employment in the berry cultivation and processing industry, which in turn also enhances income generation of the municipality.
“I am especially glad that Social Enterprise will give jobs to twelve women from Susice village,” said Ivica Tanasijevic, Deputy Mayor of the municipality, “and I am happier for the fact that we will finally get a product that reads ‘Produced in Strpce’.”
During the ribbon cutting and bread-breaking ceremony, guests had the opportunity to sample the raspberry juice and other goods from the village. The feast was also complemented by regional food, such as traditional cheese, bread and pastries.
The association’s president Aleksandar Milenković enthusiastically demonstrated how the berries are pressed and made into pure juice.
“Opening this enterprise is one of the best things that could happen to our village. It is a great opportunity for all of us, for women that will be employed and for the farmers who will have opportunity to sell their produce.”
UPMS is currently processing more juice than ever aided by the newly inaugurated machines and facility. The focus of the social enterprise is to continue to engage more raspberry farmers in the region of Strpce/Sterpce municipality and to eventually double the membership to 30 farmers. The programme’s success demonstrates the importance of cooperation between different partners, at the local and international levels, for the implementation of projects aimed at the betterment of livelihoods in Kosovo.
“These are great products,” exclaimed UNDP Resident Representative, Andrew Russell. “There is no reason why these juices shouldn’t be on the shelves - not just in the stores in Strpce, but also in stores across the Balkans and the world!”
* References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).