Ambassador Delawie’s Remarks at the Launch of Internet Economy Development Partnership

Ambassador Delawie’s Remarks at the Launch of Internet Economy Development Partnership, February 1, 2017

It is great to be back here at Gjirafa. This is really my favorite kind of event here in Kosovo, I have to say. Because not only do we get to launch something positive together but we get to celebrate a little as well. Plus, as a Californian, I feel right at home with the Silicon Valley spirit of progress and innovation that one always gets walking into Gjirafa.  Of course we still need to work on getting the California weather outside. Maybe that can be our next project.

One of the extraordinary things about serving here in Kosovo is that every day I get to see the innovation of Kosovo’s entrepreneurs, and the determination of so many of you who are driving economic development. And there are so many different people- I was at a Makerspace in Gjakova a couple of months ago and I had the same kind of feeling there. And Gjirafa and you, Mergim, and your whole team are such an extraordinary example of this.

As you all know, it was only a few years ago that USAID joined a few other early investors who believed in Gjirafa’s potential, who believed in the idea that an Albanian language search engine would flourish and grow and fill a need we had not even recognized before.  And now you’ve turned this idea into an engine of economic growth and job creation, and perhaps even more importantly, you’ve committed to giving back. And we are so proud to once again be your partner as you give back to other IT sector entrepreneurs, through mentoring and through direct investment, and by being an incubator for new ideas.

I know that as you continue to build the regional internet economy you will create more opportunities for economic development and job growth in Kosovo. And you’ll be an example as well, not just as you achieve greater and greater success, but of what it means to invest in your own people and your own country.

We talk a lot in our development assistance about human capital and workforce development and education – about the need to foster Kosovo’s next generation of leaders. But of course this is premised on the recipients of our investments turning an individual benefit into a greater good, going from beneficiaries to leaders.

It seems fitting to me, standing here in Gjirafa, to note that Steve Jobs once said that “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”  I think Gjirafa has been an innovator – and a leader – from the very beginning. I have every confidence in this latest partnership between us, and who knows what future leaders of Kosovo may emerge from your support and from Kosovo’s growing IT sector?

I can’t wait to see what happens next, and I thank you all for your relentless hard work and that special mix of pragmatism and idealism that has made you such a success so far.

Falemenderit shume. Hvala. Thank you very much.