While Kosovo's economy has experienced moderate growth in recent years, poverty and unemployment remain persistent problems. The public sector has little room for growth and is unable to create new jobs. This is where the private sector comes in. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for three quarters of the jobs created in the private sector. Companies in the agri-food and tourism sectors have been identified as having a strong growth potential but are facing significant problems, in particular shortcomings in marketing and management.
The food processing sector lacks access to raw materials and the market. It therefore needs to:
Increase farm production and improve access to sales channels, for example through contracts with large distributors;
Carry out organisational improvements and establish a certification to market its products nationally and internationally.
The tourism sector mainly needs to diversify and advertise Kosovo's tourist attractions, for example by marketing mountainous regions as destinations for both summer and winter tourism.
It is essential to reinvigorate these two sectors. Over 55% of Kosovo's population is aged between 15 and 35. Some 36,000 members of this age group enter the labour market every year but fewer than 18,000 jobs are created. This has resulted in an overall unemployment rate of 29% (50% among young people), with the rate being considerably higher in rural areas and for women and minorities. Among the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian (RAE) communities, unemployment is as high as 80%.