15 years of AADF in Albania, investment for positive changes in the country

15 years of AADF in Albania, investment for positive changes in the country

The Albanian-American Development Foundation (AADF) organized a Press Conference, in the presence of Mr. Michael D. Granoff, Chairman of the Board and Co-Executive Directors Mr. Alexander Sarapuli and Mr. Martin Mata. The main focus was AADF's 15-year activity in Albania, with a financial commitment of over 120 million USD, in a portfolio of 80 projects in areas of strategic importance: entrepreneurship, education and leadership, cultural heritage and eco-tourism.

AADF representatives brought to attention the numerous projects in education and leadership, for the development of digital skills and the creation of new opportunities, for future generations in Albania, based on the most advanced models in the world such as TUMO Tirana (e before the center for creative technologies in Albania), Junior Achievement of Albania, AI for Youth - Artificial Intelligence for young people, LEAD Albania, etc. Projects for economic development and growth in 8 different areas of Albania, Tirana, Shkodër, Korçë, Berat, Krujë, Gjirokastër, Vlorë, soon also in Durrës, through business support, based on international management models such as BID-TID and CRIMSON that supports start-ups, small and medium-sized businesses, were the parenthesis of the presentation of another important project to help businesses and innovation in Albania: Innovation HUB - Innovation Center of AADF, near the Pyramid of Tirana, which will to significantly influence the empowerment of enterprises and start-ups in the country.

In the interest of journalists' questions Mr. Michael Granoff emphasized that "AADF's job is to give money responsibly, in order to achieve positive changes in Albania. Our only benefit is improving the lives of Albanians. The impact on Albania's economy can be measured in several ways. For example, if we look at what we have done for the improvement of tourist areas, we will see that we have had a measurable effect on about a thousand businesses. You see this in the effect on property and business values, for example, in all the historic downtowns that AADF has contributed to. Junior Achievement operates in 120 countries and nowhere is it more successful than in Albania, where every child benefits from financial education. The AADF is part of the general presence of the United States of America in Albania, and all the things we do are controlled by the American government, so we work in coordination with it."

In response to the question of where the source of AADF's income comes from, Mr. Granoff explained to the media that "In 1995, the US raised funds for the development of the private sector in many of the former communist countries in Eastern Europe and offered a fund of 30 million dollars to Albania. The purpose of this fund was the development of the private sector in the country. And over the years we invested in a number of businesses, which today are very successful. By decision of the US Government, 100% of the profits that were generated from this fund stayed in the country and are being further used to empower the country through AADF projects.

One of AADF's areas of operation is Cultural Heritage and Ecotourism, where some of the most important projects over the years are: the creation of a sustainable tourism model for Drilon-Tushemisht; the preparation of the Integrated Management Plan for the archaeological areas of Durrës and the Destination Management Plan for Berat Castle; the establishment of the Albanian Jewish Museum and the Marubi National Photographic Museum; the registration of five elements of Albanian Intangible Cultural Heritage in UNESCO; electronic ticketing systems at 10 cultural heritage sites; etc.

The Integrated Management Plan of Butrint follows in the footsteps of projects in the field of Cultural Heritage and Ecotourism. Mr. Granoff emphasized once again the role of AADF as a donor in this project: "We have been involved for many years in the preservation of the archaeological site of Butrint, with the aim of protecting the cultural heritage. Our goal is not to own Butrinti, as we do not own Piraminda or New Pazar, etc. These are public assets and property, owned by the Albanian state and it is responsible for them. We do not work for the Albanian Governments, but we work with them. We have no benefits in Butrint, as we do not control it. The Butrint Management Foundation is run by the Ministry of Culture, not by us, but our role is important because we contribute financially to the sustainable development of Butrint. As for the Constitutional Court, we have not been a party to this trial, but this is something that has to do with the government. We are in a democratic society, people have the right to file lawsuits and the CJK made this decision in fulfillment of its duty. The management of Butrint will be handled by the Butrint Management Foundation, not the AADF. We are simply givers, donors and a strategic partner that helps with significant amounts of funds" - said Mr. Granoff, adding that management models, like the one proposed in Butrint, are successfully implemented all over the world. "That there is no corruption, that the money that comes in stays in Butrint and that the archaeological site is preserved are our main interests. Since 2022, the management plan of Butrint has been reviewed, accepted and evaluated by UNESCO, and I am quoting one of the comments of UNESCO, which called this management plan "a very good initial stage for the future management of Butrint" . UNESCO has seen the Butrint management plan and has expressed its approval as a good baseline model for the future of Butrint.”

AADF's financial commitment to various projects for the benefit of Butrint National Park is 6.18 million USD.

AADF as a non-profit philanthropic organization serves as a catalyst in its habitat, providing funds and professional knowledge to improve the quality of life of Albanian youth, increasing transparency and reducing corruption through some of the most advanced management models and expertise in the world. All funds that AADF manages remain in Albania as a gift from the American people to the Albanian people.