Institute for Development Research Riinvest
USAID was one of the first international donors on the ground in 1999 and has been a steady partner to Kosovo-and one of its biggest financial backers – ever since. Thanks to the generosity of the American people, USAID has committed nearly $800 million over the past 16 years to help rebuild the country, establish democratic institutions, and build the foundation for sustainable growth.
Over that time, we have partnered with Kosovo’s leaders to provide creative, lasting solutions to serve both the immediate and future needs of the citizens of this great country. USAID is proud to include Riinvest Institute among our partners. Seeing Riinvest’s potential as a leading Kosovo think tank, we began our cooperation with the institute almost immediately in the fall of 2000. Between 2000 and 2004, USAID worked to help develop the institute’s capacity to conduct research and make policy recommendations on economic issues.
Another key objective of our cooperation was to broaden the representation of the business community in the poilcy dialogue. Through our partnership with Riinvest, USAID helped establish the Association of Kosovo Businesses, which remains very active in promoting domestic products and advising the government in developing policies to benefit Kosovo’s business community. Developing the capacity of local organizations to meet the needs of a country’s citizens is a core tenet of the USAID Forward initiative. Using this philosophy here in Kosovo, we endeavor with each program to prepare our partner institutions and organizations to take over the work we have begun together.
USAID is proud to have been a part of Riinvest’s early development and I encourage the institute to maintain its focus on providing the quality economic research that the Kosovo people deserve. The institute’s work is vital to building a brigher future for the citizens of this great country.
In counclusion, I would like to congratulate Riinvest Institute on its 20 years of service to the people of Kosovo. The USAID team wishes you all the best in marking this momentous occasion.
Kosovo Mission Director
Since its establishment, Riinvest and CIPE have been strategic partners to strengthen Kosovo’s democratic institutions and improve its business regulatory environment for small and medium-sized enterprises.
CIPE supported Riinvest, under the inspirational leadership of Dr. Muhamet Mustafa, to spearhead the economic reconstruction and development of post-war Kosovo. Due to their success, Riinvest quickly grew into the region’s recognized leader in economic research and policy advocacy. As one of CIPE’s oldest and most trusted partners, we continue to have a productive working relationship with Riinvest’s new leadership to increase accountability and transparency in public procurement and corporate governance at both the state and firm levels.
Riinvest’s success story serves as an inspiration to its peers all across the world. From all of us in the CIPE family, here’s to another twenty years!
John D. Sullivan
When I think about Riinvest, three things immediately come to my mind: it is a centre of producing knowledge, sharing education – and accepting the experience of the others. When we wanted to have a thorough insight into the habits and expectations of Kosovo citizens, Riinvest helped us with a survey. When we are naming good education hubs to our colleagues and guests, visiting Pristina, Riinvest is the name we often mention. And I am personally proud that I was able to share some of our policy priorities and experiences with Riinvest students – and professors! All these shows that a serious academic institution today needs to have both educational and research ambitions if it wants to attract best students and compete on a global academic market. Riinvest’s focus on economic studies and research is even more important in the context of contemporary Kosovo situation. We like to say, especially after 2014 elections, that Kosovo needs to redouble its efforts in the field of economic governance. It is the most important game Kosovo is playing – since it is for the victory of all citizens, not just some or few of them. European Union supports activities, dedicated to economic development, employment and welfare. You know very well our priorities: economic development and welfare can be best motivated through market economy by improving fiscal policies for promotion of small and medium entrepreneurship and improving business environment. We support strong focus on agriculture and we found it important that Kosovo has recognised strong potential in developing tourism. But let me use this solemn opportunity of 20 years of your work to stress the importance of focus on such growth-oriented sectors as education is. While investments in education do not give immediate results, there are an absolute precondition for Kosovo to develop a knowledge-based society and sustainable economic development. It should be done in an all-inclusive way, involving civil society, businesses, foreign investors and even media. Society flourishes if economic does well – but in fact the best proof of such flourishing are seen in other, softer, but essential fields of social life, such as education, health, science and culture. Kosovo should not underestimate them, since they are crucial longer-term development policies. And it is here, not only in searching for new opportunities, but always insisting on human dimension of future economic development and the importance of high ethical standards of knowledge-based society, that academic institutions such as Riinvest should find their role – and future! Knowing the dedicated staff and the leadership of current Riinvest, I am more than confident that these expectations will be fulfilled.
You know how.
Head of the EU Office in Kosovo
As Swiss Cooperation Office we have always worked hand in hand with local partners aiming to ensure development of local capacities as well as ensuring local ownership of our interventions. As soon as we have started our operations in the field of Economy and Employment we got in touch with the Riinvest Institute which was at that time almost the only local think tank that was active in the field of Economic Development. In almost all our stages of programme development we came across Riinvest, being it for the informative meetings or by using their research studies that always helped us to better understand the Kosovo context and its related trends.
Except that we have benefited a lot from the Riinvest’s Institute know how, we have also mutually agreed to start the joint cooperation in the year 2005. At that time Riinvest Institute, in cooperation with the Open Society Institute (OSI), has been implementing in Kosovo the project Delta (Developing Enterprises Locally through Action and Alliance). The aim of this project was human capacity building of municipal officials in designing and implementing strategies and local economic development projects in terms of creating a better environment for the development of economic activities in these municipalities. Around 5 municipalities have been supported at that time through our joint cooperation with the Riinvest.
In 2011 together with Riinvest Institute we have launched a report on Improving the Kosovo Serbian Business Community Involvement in Economic Activities in Kosovo. The purpose of the project was to generate a comprehensive framework and recommendations on how the stakeholders, can contribute to, support and improve business environment of K-Serbian business community in the Kosovo market. The research study investigated the actual situation of K-Serbian businesses, their potentials for development, barriers to development and the level of cooperation with other business communities in Kosovo. The research work and the report were prepared by the Riinvest Institute.
At the same time together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark (MFAD) we have entrusted to the Riinvest Institute the implementation of the Facilitation Entity for the Horticulture Sector in Kosovo; a two year project that aimed at implementing a structured research and development in specific market chains or sectors to boost pro poor impact in the Horticulture sector. The whole intervention was done jointly with the key local stakeholders of the Horticulture value chains that led in developing a sound analysis, finding joint market opportunities and implement new products and innovative technologies that were increasingly used by the actors involved in the Horticulture sector.
At the moment we have a program that aims at creating employment opportunities in the private sector that is more dynamic and generates additional jobs and income opportunities. This project is implemented by Swisscontact and Riinvest Institute that work together under the consortium partner modality.
We appreciate a lot a good cooperation that we have had till now with the Riinvest Institute and are looking forward to a good and successful cooperation of the actual Promoting Private Sector Employment/ PPSE program but also to work with Riinvest in other endeavors. We would like to congratulate Riinvest for its work done till now, for being able to adopt its mandate towards development goals of the country and for providing a good quality service that has always been remarkable.
I would like to congratulate Riinvest to its 20th anniversary and I am looking forward to continuing an excellent cooperation.
Weak labour market outcomes remain the Achilles’ heel of Kosovo’s economy. Across the political aisle, among key stakeholders in academia, civil society, the private sector, and media, there is a broad consensus on the need to foster more dynamic rates of sustainable and inclusive growth to generate more-and, especially, more high-quality and better-paying-jobs for citizens and residents. However, there is much less of a consensus among the political elite and within society on the key pillars and core priorities of such a comprehensive socio-economic development strategy that is to guide economic policy-making in decades to come. In fact, some of the most striking debates circle around the role that the private sector (the most important generator of new jobs) can and should play in Kosovo’s economy. For Kosovo to become a modem, dynamic, and prosperous country with economic perspectives similar to those prevailing in other European countries, all important stakeholders will have to (i) debate and ultimately agree on core ingredients of an appropriate growth model; and (ii) anchor its key elements into the development programmes of successive governments formed by political parties that, today, are in government, opposition, or not yet established. Kosovo has few (functioning) fora in which to debate development priorities and, as such, pillars of its growth model-with very few exceptions. With its track record in high-quality research and the focus on key development challenges, Riinvest has earned, over the past 20 years, not only the credibility as an independent, professional stakeholder with a proven ability to produce high-quality, rigorous, yet accessible and policy-oriented research but also as a convening power capable of bringing together government and opposition politicians, academics, and representatives from the private sector, civil society, and international development partners to focus on, debate, and seek agreements on core challenges, including public policy-making, the business climate, economic informality, or corporate governance. In that, Riinvest is an indispensable research institute (a think tank in the best sense of the word), and it remains unrivalled---cementing its position at the very center of the debate on development challenges and the search for means to improve the situation for businesses and citizens alike. With declining marginal rates of development contribution from the “traditional” sources of growth, it becomes even more central for society as a whole to take fullest advantage of all opportunities to increase the productivity in key sectors of the economy and, as such, “endogenise” growth to make it more dynamic, more sustainable, and more inclusive in years and decades to come. And that, of course, makes Riinvest even more indispensable, in years and in decades to come! Congratulations on what has been achieved and courage for what lies ahead!
When I started working in 1997 at the Soros Foundation, I have to admit that I knew very little about the civil society in general, and especially for the one in Kosovo. In the 90’s there were so many civil initiatives on one hand, and so few registered civil organizations that would brought an interesting paradox: when the whole country was placed in civilian leadership binary, and functioning in general , the number of organizations which today we call non- governmental organizations or non - profit organizations , was symbolic. There were three or four of them. They were very strong, well organized, and had captured an important position within the political and socio - economic developments of that time, which were quite turbulent. At this time, I knew of one of this organization-Riinvest Institute. Under the leadership of Muhamet Mustafa, who already had a huge baggage of expertise and experience in the economic field but also in politics, Riinvest Institute had soon taken an important place in the regional stage of development institutes , for whom we learned that were called “think-tank”. With analyses that Institute would constantly conduct, the region’s economic mosaic was being fulfilled, which came to be seen with a specific dioptres after disintegrating economic movements of the former Yugoslavia.
We were lucky that I and my colleagues from the Soros Foundation were able to establish a very close partnership in the years before the war With Riinvest, which culminated after the war when we became co initiators of the Forum 2015, which together with KACI organization we put in motion in March 2003. An advocacy platform like this one had constantly been fed with deep analysis on Kosovo’s economy conducted by Riinvest Institute, as well as public policies in different resorts that not only constantly generated better information for the public on these development issues , but also concrete recommendations to advance the issues with which Forum 2015 dealt.
What makes Riinvest Institute very specific within civil institutions scene in Kosovo is that they constantly have educated cadres, especially in the field of economy, who today have become carriers of some crucial initiatives, not just civil society’s initiatives, but also the university academic and administrative ones. To achieve this, long before forming its university structure the Institute made sure that all its staff are educated and specialize in the European prestigious universities. It was a very visionary and effective action that marked positive developments in the economic and social scene in Kosovo.
And finally, such a healthy and forward-looking developmental trajectory definitely paves a new way for the new generations, which Riinvest educated them by also giving them a chance to not only gain expertise but also experience in the affairs of a modern “think tank”. The Institute is led by a new generation of experts who are in the best path to become the Kosovo’s top experts in their fields much needed in this country. I have no doubt that Riinvest will continue to have a very important role in future developments in our new country, and will be, as it has been until now, a new energy for Kosovo experts.
Riinvest Institute is one of the first institutes with which Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) has cooperated since its establishment in Kosovo. Analysis on economic vision , privatization model and Kosovo’s economic development directions, have been few of the topics with which we have launched a public debate, between the institutions, civil society and experts on the issues that are fundamental for Kosovos’ society development.Along with Riinvest, we have offered frist trainnings to the parliament members and first mandaters on budget and economic and development policies and have also cooperated in the concrete analysis of these policies which have helped parliament members to make good and informed decisions.
Analysis of the situation of the agreement created after CEFTA’s blocade, energy policy, and the first study on informality in Kosovo, which offers concrete data on country’s informal economic sector are all important documents that local and international institutions refer to.
All of these products realized by RIINVEST and supported by Friedrich Ebert Foundation , have helped the debate on policies , based on the arguments and data which have offered specific recommendations , many of which are taken into consideration by decision makers. These were made possible only thanks to the dedication of all RIINVEST’s staff who with their knowledge and professionalism have contributed to the realization of these and many other common products in the scope of economy and sustainable development.
Lately, Regional Development Academy in partnership with the European Commission and Riinvest Institute is providing concrete assistance in local economic development, by assisting officials at local municipialites to increase their capabilities in designing, assessing and implementing projects which are important to the development with great impact for the locality or municipality through the component of small grants but even more important is that they are being trained on how to apply for European and other donors projects that facilitate sustainable development.
This is the duty of civil society and the FES mission in Kosovo, that with deepening and specializing of some fields according to certain disciplines to analyze the policies and actions of decision-making institutions with critical overview by offering models, concrete alternative solutions for specific problems.
On this finding, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung thanks RIINVEST Institute for this multi-year cooperation which will continue even in the future, based on the same mision – the development of a democratic Kosovo with a clear vision for development and integration.
Chairman of the Board
Co-founder, senior fellow
Senior Research Fellow