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Aferdite Shani

Aferdite is an independent consultant and the president of ICSE – International Center for Southern Europe, an organisation dealing with social inclusion, research and consultancy in the field of European design for inclusion.

ICSE – International Center for Southern Europe

Florence, Italy 

Aferdite's entrepreneurial journey

Aferdite Shani is a president of an organisation dealing with social inclusion, research and consultancy in the field of European design for inclusion. She also works as an independent consultant with Italian and international institutions, such as municipalities, regions, NGOs, and the Ministry of Tourism.

Afredite Shani

During her studies at university, Aferdite took the opportunity to do internships abroad and worked in Romania for a company dealing with European structural projects for local development. Thanks to these experiences she developed an understanding of how the sector works.

In 2011, after Aferdite graduated with a diploma in international relations, she realised that there not many opportunities for her in Italy, except the usual low-paid internships.  She did not want to accept poor working conditions and felt that the opportunities she came across were not really related to what she had studied. Therefore, she chose the path to self-employment, becoming an independent consultant, putting her ideas into practice and developing activities aligned to her interests. 

The beginning was very challenging. Initially, she kept in contact with professors who tried to direct former students to build their own network, but it was a very slow process, and not very effective. In 2012/13, she took part in “campus enterprise” to be up to date with current developments, challenges and opportunities in the sector, but in the end, it was of little help.

Afredite says, “The fact that we are still active, carrying out projects that have led to the creation of others that are increasingly structured and demanding is, I would say, a great satisfaction. For years, I have worked on social inclusion with women and children with second languages and in training courses.”

Afredite followed many seminars on social and intercultural topics, mentorship, and human resource management, finding some more useful than others.  She says, “Interactive and well-structured seminars were the most helpful while the theoretical ones were not that interesting and effective. I think that the courses should offer more practical tools. And for many things, I am ‘learning by doing’.”
What's next?

“I would like to pick up where we left before the global pandemic of Covid-19. We have been working with IOM, and my goal is to keep this cooperation, although now we don’t really know what will happen. I also would like to work more and more internationally and with the diaspora organisations, particularly with the Albanian diaspora.”

Advice for prospective entrepreneurs
“People tend to start out focused on what they know how to do as a profession, but less about how to get there, such as training or finding information. My advice is to also focus on what goes on around the specific business, from how to run the business, to how you research certain information, matching what others do. Do not focus solely on your expertise, things you already know – your ‘primary activities’. People tend to do this when starting a business. You should also focus on ‘support activities’, such as how to run a business, people management or where and how to find and research certain information.”
Aferdite Shani
President of the ICSE – International Center for Southern Europe

Afredite is originally from northern Albania and she moved to Italy when she was 13.