On Friday 4 November 2016, at the Lelio and Lisli Basso Foundation, the conference took place "Women of Albania. Between migration, tradition and modernity "
The aim of the conference was to reflect together, over the course of a whole day, on the future of Albania, starting from the role played by women in the process of integrating the country into Europe, with a look at the diaspora in Italy and one on good practices in Albania.
Among the interventions of the day we propose that of Migra Foundation
The progress of women is the progress of all
More than 100 million women in the world have emigrated and who currently live outside their home country. A river of women that crosses the countries of the world and that has exceeded men by almost two percentage points and that enters with less difficulty in the social fabric of the host nation. This impact in a social context different from the one in which they were born and grew up and where they live, necessarily leads them to an autonomy that they did not have in their places of origin. They become agents of themselves, earn and send money home, more easily assimilate the habits of the host country and pass them on to future generations, becoming a powerful vehicle for integration.
A very interesting aspect is the remarkable growth of their self-esteem, based on a freedom and possibility of decisions that they had not known before in such decisive ways. It will also be for this reason that many immigrants, after years of work and sacrifices as employees, in Italian homes or restaurants, in clothing manufacturing workshops and factories, are taking the plunge and setting up on their own.
Ergo the towns of foreign origin can no longer be described only as domestic workers, dedicated to care work and leisure time company. Today they are noteworthy entrepreneurs and self-employed women, thanks to the important numbers that involve them:
More than 100 thousand women immigrant entrepreneurs. They manage service companies, clothing companies, travel agencies and they represent the 16% of all female entrepreneurs in Italy. This is even more significant if we consider the major difficulties they may encounter in the reconciliation of work and family, in the absence of consolidated parental networks, as is the case for indigenous women workers. A particularly interesting datum is the constant growth of female entrepreneurs: today almost a quarter of all foreign companies are run by women. According to Censis, companies led by foreign women have increased in the last five years by 3%
The sectors most chosen to start their own business are i Care (85,6%), in particular trade (39,1%) and tourism, between accommodation and catering (12,7%). This is what emerges from an elaboration of the Studies Office of the Chamber of Commerce
The 2014 Immigration and Entrepreneurship Report of the Study and Research Center Idos / Immigration Statistical Survey shows that the immigrant communities with the greatest entrepreneurial spirit are the Moroccan, Nigerian, Romanian, Chinese and Albanian communities. The sectors of greatest interest are trade and the service sector, the provinces favored by Rome and Milan. Interesting that the Albanian female entrepreneurship works a lot in the field of slow food like the ladies of Permet and theirs gliko . Or the case of Guri i Zi of Shkodër who, like them, many other entrepreneurs from the Veneto region, belong to the category "circulating women entrepreneurs": They are women who leave the country of origin with the precise idea of carrying out small-scale commercial exchanges, through the sale of local products in Italy, particularly requested by the immigrant population. In this way, women entrepreneurs are able to secure employment for women in their country of origin; they combine work with the family, because they have the possibility to choose when to move; they are legitimate in their migration phase because they have an important reason that justifies their travels. And even more the exchange of material goods and finished products allows the exchange of cultural elements from country to country, which are able to transform families and societies in the different contexts in which they operate. A very virtuous circle.
The Albanian female entrepreneurship in Italy is encountered mostly in the tertiary activity sectors such as housing and catering, in the advanced tertiary sector that is intellectual works or the entertainment industry and the mass communication sector; and other activities and services such as manufacturing and crafts. According to data from the Unioncamere Observatory, in Italy the 48% of Albanian immigrants are women and almost 3600 Enterprises are counted as leading a woman, hence the 12% of the total Albanian companies, classifying us as the fifth community with the largest number of women involved in immigrant female entrepreneurs in Italy .
But considering also the fact that Albanian women entrepreneurs are on average more educated than men, (about 20 per cent of them graduated against around 12 per cent of male colleagues), I would say that the road ahead is still long . Data that, moreover, closely resemble the situation of the natives.
And it is very interesting to note how companies headed by a woman, and in our case, even an Albanian woman, are in line with the resources and traditions of the country or region in which they are immigrants. In short, the region you go to, the immigrant entrepreneur you find: in Lombardy, Campania and Lazio, they are mainly located in the big cities and deal with hotel services, public and personal services, communication and transport. In Tuscany they are present in manufacturing and in the craft sector. In Sicily they dedicate themselves to agriculture. But above all we ask ourselves, why do they choose to take up the challenge of the company? Because positions are also released in these areas, left by Italians moving towards more profitable and less demanding realities for the management of pizzerias, bakeries and other heavy jobs. They are also a solution to unemployment and underemployment in general. This is an opportunity to get out of the occupational segregation that wants them to be suitable only for domestic work, 24 hours on 24, with no space for their creativity.
There is a typical profile of the foreign entrepreneur citizen, and even here we do not differ much from other immigrant women.
It is women who have been able to respond to a demand for immigrant consumption. And also in this case the companies headed by the immigrants are going to cover sectors left uncovered and that do not compete with those of the Italian natives. They are heavier and in any case disqualified jobs that have no competitors. And it is mainly single women who have had the opportunity to study and obtain a degree. Unfortunately the numbers are not the same for married women and children.
The identikit of the entrepreneur
Following my research, the identikit of the Albanian entrepreneur, she does not stray far from the identikit of the Italian woman entrepreneur or of another and of any nationality. This identikit is that of a woman in whom contradictory elements persist but manage to coexist. She is conventional and static, but also innovative and dynamic. Traditional and conservative, but also modern and explorer.
For women entrepreneurs success is a mix of personal characteristics, the main one of which (for 44,7% of them) is the ability to take responsibility. The different style of company management emerges above all in the relationship with the collaborators.
In women's enterprises, more women are delegated than in non-female companies. Very interesting is the fact regarding the ease with which women manage to integrate and collaborate with other women in a less hierarchical and more circular relationship. Thus disproving the common place according to which women struggle to collaborate with each other because they are in a conflictual relationship. Also with regard to the management of roles in the company, the feminine attitude can instead be considered more collaborative than what happens in non-feminine enterprises, where the organizational choices are assumed mainly by the entrepreneur. This could be the slogan that marks the thrust of female entrepreneurship.
Women entrepreneurs have generally satisfying levels of satisfaction. But if the achievement of autonomy can be considered a reason for transversal satisfaction among the genders, the reconciliation between private life and work activity is a prerogative entirely internal to the female idea of doing business. In other words, for women entrepreneurs, work takes on a positive connotation when it is not an obstacle to family life.
A discriminating element between the style of women's enterprises compared to the others is given by theirs greater customer focus.
The quality of the service (61,2%) and the customer assistance (33,0%), represent strengths that female entrepreneurs attribute to their own business model. Features such as empathy sensibility creativeness attention to detail ability to listen ability to negotiate, lo collaboration spirit and the ability to to communicate and others make women undoubtedly suitable for entrepreneurial roles, with relative success attached.
Finally, another of the most obvious features expressed by female entrepreneurs is the focus on the adoption of development strategies compatible with safeguarding and enhancing the environment. Women entrepreneurs focus their attention above all on waste management, the choice of raw materials and energy savings.
But as we see, despite being half of the Albanian population who immigrated to Italy, only 12% of Albanian companies are headed by a woman. This fact, in reality, is not just about us: being a woman and choosing a life at the helm of a company is very often still "a company": Le women represent over 50% of the European population, but still few start their own business. The lack of participation of women in the labor market is well known and has a negative impact on GDP. According to the latest Istat estimates, there are just under ten million women in Italy who have had to give up work for family reasons during their lives. Women continue to be held back from launching their own companies from a series of barriers including education, stereotypes, lack of trust and difficulty in accessing finance and networks. Female creativity and entrepreneurial potential are an underutilized source of economic growth and new jobs that should be further developed. Encouraging the creation of more companies led by women entrepreneurs will not only bring new and creative business ideas, but will also enhance the role of women in society and create new sources of prosperity and jobs.
But to be able to express ourselves and accomplish ourselves in our work without resorting to inhuman sacrifices, we need the help of the entire society and the help of our fellow men and friends. Because when a woman has the same tools available to a man to run a company, she has all it takes to become a successful entrepreneur!
Albanian and Italian society is still dominated by males, and the rules still make them. Rules means timetables, holidays, permits, promotions, careers. Ergo is with them that we must dialogue, explain, collaborate. A healthy society understands that motherhood is an opportunity. Becoming a mother is a high-level master. We return to work more tenacious, more capable of facing difficulties, more mature. But our male colleagues, like our comrades, like our friends, must understand this. It is not a question of legislation, which exists. It is a question of rules of the collective game. With these expectations, with these workplaces and with these colleagues, a young woman finds herself having to choose: children or career. Until we have the full awareness of this problem and the full cooperation of the whole society, starting from the mentality and continuing with concrete help in support of the family, we could not fully enjoy the great fruits that are able to offer women to the world of work. Because when a mother has to choose between children or work, for the vast majority of cases she will naturally choose her children. And as long as the two issues are incompatible due to the lack of adequate policies to support the family and the lack of collaboration between genders, our country, a bit 'also as the whole of Europe (countries of the North apart) will present a low birth rate .
That said, the data tells us that more and more women believe in it and are able to fulfill their dream. In spite of a bureaucracy judged too heavy, a problematic relationship with credit, prejudices and skepticism still widespread. The secret of success? The conviction of being able to do it, the strong desire for autonomy, the ability to use family networks, the ability to meet the customer and accept the challenges of the market. The increasingly widespread participation of women in the world of work is a fundamental factor for social and cultural growth.
And to come back to us, Albanian women entrepreneurs in Italy, I can proudly say that with resourcefulness and courage they make businesses flourish a little in all sectors bringing wealth to Italy and wealth to Albania. The market is a place for them to free creativity and passion. They really appreciate Italy and respect it. Uses and customs have mixed with Italian ones and in their pot of diversity they cook various ingredients to make a dish with a rich flavor of true integration.
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