40 / 2014
Jaka Vadnjal

The Importance of Social Capital within an Ethnic Community: Albanian Entrepreneurs in Slovenia

As the economically most developed part of former Yugoslavia, Slovenia has traditionally been a host country for numerous immigrants of other nationalities. There has long been a presence of Albanian nationals and it appears that a new wave of immigration of Albanians to Slovenia has been happening since 1991. Slovenia has become an even more popular immigration destination since joining the EU in 2004. In this article, fourteen case studies of Albanian entrepreneurs are analyzed in order to give a picture of their somewhat unique way of running business activities. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to address several research questions in a qualitative manner. Albanian immigrants do not come to Slovenia to seek their fortune. Through a dense network of family and friends, the processes of newcomers starting a business or finding employment seem to be very well planned ahead. Although serving the mainstream economy, Albanian entrepreneurs in Slovenia rely heavily on informal supportand also financing from their extended families and the entire Albanian community. They have traditionally worked in only a few types of business (pastry shops, fruits and vegetables, bakeries, construction).They form a particular part of the Slovenian economy, well-integrated but also self-sustainable in the face of new economic processes, with their traditional high level of reliance on their community, family and ethnic-based social capital.
KEY WORDS: ethnic minority entrepreneurship, immigrant businesses, social capital, community, Albanian entrepreneurs in Slovenia