Until just a few years ago, opaque licensing processes were a major obstacle to investment and growth in Albania. In order to obtain a permit, companies would often have to complete time-consuming official paperwork and pay bribes. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, GIZ provided support to set up the National Licensing Centre. Since 2009, around 40,000 businesses have already benefited from this central point of contact – including fishing entrepreneur Gjergj Luca.
Rozafa Sea Food is a fishing business with several ships for catching fish. We process the fish and shellfish in our factory. We then sell these products ourselves through our chain of restaurants. Today, Rozafa employs about 600 people in total. Unbelievable, when you consider how small it all started out.
My dream began in 1992. The times after the fall of the Iron Curtain weren’t easy in Albania – everyone was just struggling to survive back then. A lot of people had to give up their old professions and turned to the streets to earn a living. I started out with only a 5-metre-long boat and a small crew of fishermen. I would sell our catch to restaurants that had just opened in the capital, Tirana.
Later, I invested in a second boat that was a bit bigger. Then in a third. By now, I have a fleet of eight newly built boats, up to 40-metres in length. We fish in the entire Mediterranean – tuna, bluefish, shellfish – and deliver throughout the Balkans.
Building Rozafa into the company it is today was anything but easy! The official administrative structures and bureaucratic hurdles grew to the same extent as my company. Every year, we had to get new fishing licenses, which sometimes required us to go door to door at the ministry for months. Whenever we had questions, we would find ourselves in front of closed doors again. That is what opened up opportunities for corruption.
I have to admit, I’m really relieved that the Albanian Government has now established this institution. Ever since, we're no longer at the mercy of those compromising bureaucratic procedures. We only have to submit our documents to a one-stop shop and the Licensing Centre takes care of the rest.