In a country where close to 4.3% of the population, or 137,000 people, are affected by disability, Suela -- a young entrepreneur with a physical disability -- envisions a space where young differently-abled individuals are able to socialize, participate in cultural activities, and access work opportunities without barriers.

Since winning the Albanian Social Business Competition run by Yunus Social Business (YSB) in January 2013, Suela and her partners have been hard at work making their vision into a reality. The resulting social business initiative is E Jona, a coffee shop in Albania’s capital, Tirana, that will provide both disabled and non-disabled youth with a space to interact, network and socialize. Kiva is proud to offer our lenders the opportunity to support Suela and E Jona as they fundraise for this innovative venture this month, through our partner YSB!

Sueala (center) with the E Jona and YSB teams

Currently young people with disabilities in Albania are all too often unable to lead full social lives as few social places are able to accommodate their needs; many public locations, such as cinemas, cafés, museums, restaurants and parks have steps and other entry barriers.

Eager to open the doors to E Jona, Suela hopes that the coffee shop will raise awareness among the general public regarding the needs and challenges facing Albania’s differently-abled community. The venture also aims to help deconstruct the stigma usually associated with disability in Albania's largest city, home to a population of 421,000.

Suela is proud of the initiative, explaining “there will be various activities such as movie nights, music performances by people with disabilities, art exhibitions, etc… in order to promote talent among this group.” In addition to these activities, E Jona will also employ youth with disabilities as staff, offering jobs as bartenders, waiters, and managers.

Each of Kiva’s larger loans is carefully evaluated according to the potential impact that the funding will have for entire communities. By funding this $49,950 loan, lenders will help to support not only E Jona, but also each and every differently-abled individual who will benefit from the creation of the all-inclusive educational space. By contributing to E Jona’s funding today, you are helping to build a positive, inspirational and educational space for both disabled and non-disabled youth in Albania.

Learn a little more about E Jona from Suela and Ermira of YSB: 

In Suela’s own words, “[E Jona] is a really new and unique concept being introduced in Albania.” CONTRIBUTE TO SUELA'S CAMPAIGN RIGHT HERE!

To learn more about our partner Yunus Social Business, you can find our earlier blog post here.

About the author

Nashilu Mouen