As the youngest country in the world, Kosovo is emerging from the destructive wars of 1999 (the former Yugoslav Wars). Formerly a part of Serbia, the young country unilaterally declared its independence February 17, 2008. A country facing many socio-economic difficulties, including an unemployment rate of about 45 percent, one Averett graduate felt called to contribute his knowledge and skills to help make sure the country, his native country, succeeded.
Once he graduated from the University's Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS) Program, Petrit Balija, '08, realized he could have the greatest impact in his home country of Kosovo. Upon his return to Kosovo he founded INVEST Training and Consulting Firm, a company of which he is also the managing partner.
"Going back to Kosovo to contribute my knowledge and expertise to develop the private sector, reduce unemployment and to share my knowledge with students in Kosovo is more than rewarding for me," Balija said.
Balija created INVEST Training and Consulting Firm to help train and educate individuals and organizations about the business world. In addition to managing INVEST he lectures at the International Business College (Lillaebaelt Academy of Higher Education in Denmark). He is also a certified Kosovo Premier Advisor for USAID (United States Agency for International Development) in investment and development projects.
Since the company's inception it has created foreign direct investment (FDI) reports for the country that are now in Vienna, Austria and New York. These reports are being reviewed by potential investors. Among the company's clients are USAID, World Bank, European Commission and the Kosovo government.
"We are one of the fastest growing training and consulting firms in the region with a growth rate of around 400 percent," Balija said. "We have been able to build a reputation of quality and integrity in our services."
As new company that is also in a new and developing country, Balija has faced some challenges along the way.
"The main challenges have been in recruiting qualified experts to join our team that are willing to work in Kosovo. Also, the challenges with an underdeveloped market have been an issue and it has taken a lot of effort to introduce our services in a country that was not as familiar with the benefits that training and consulting offer. However, after two years of successful operations, we are moving into a new phase where quality consulting and training services are in high demand."
Despite what must at times seem an uphill battle, Balija is in for the long haul. He believes his country can and will succeed. And he's there to make sure that happens.