Following the start of our project, Strengthening Financial Literacy in the Republic of Albania, German Sparkassenstiftung was approached by some North Macedonian institutions with requests to support rural economic development in their country through supporting the development of financial services focused on the needs of rural entrepreneurs as the main target group. They also showed significant interest in including aspects of energy efficiency and climate change impact mitigation as well as support to agricultural cooperatives and associations. Moreover, the topic of supporting sustainable means to enhance the financial literacy in North Macedonia was also of high interest.
In response to the level of interest, excitement, and the identified need for this kind of project, German Sparkassenstiftung applied for a fact-finding mission to North Macedonia with the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The objective of the mission was to assess the opportunities and challenges of establishing a financial literacy and financial inclusion project in the Republic of North Macedonia.
During November and December 2020, German Sparkassenstiftung carried out this fact-finding mission in North Macedonia, mapping relevant stakeholders and interviewing them in order to identify the existing challenges and needs related to Financial Literacy, Financial Education and Financial Inclusion, as a starting point for the first stages of the project. German Sparkassenstiftung's team of experts included the following three qualified professionals; Irina Hetsch, Fact-Finding Mission Project Leader; Biljana Mojsovska Manojlova, Education Expert; and Imer Dalipi, Financial Expert.
Learn more about their professional experience by reading their colourful bios below. And follow us with an entertaining Q&A about the fact-finding mission, which will be formally presented during our Online National Stakeholders Workshop on November 18, 2021.
North Macedonia Fact-Finding Mission Team Bios
Fact-Finding Mission Project Leader
Irina Hetsch is a German freelance consultant specializing in economy and social and cultural development in Central Asia, the Middle East and Russia. She is an expert at project development, evaluation and monitoring system development and is a professional advisor for organizational development, institution building and team building. She has experience developing adapted training programs as well as providing advice and training for micro, small and medium enterprise (MSMEs) and start-ups with a regional focus on post-Soviet areas.
Irina has a PhD in Islamic Studies, from Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany and a Postdoctoral Fellowship (research project) with the German Orient Institute in Hamburg, Germany. She studied economics and oriental studies at Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia.
She has been collaborating with Sparkassenstiftung for over 15 years. During her spare time, she enjoys swimming, cycling, reading, and chatting with her children and parents.
Biljana Mojsovska Manojlova
Biljana Mojsovska Manojlova is a North Macedonian educational expert who has been professionally engaged in the field of adult education and lifelong learning since 2001. For 18 years she has been a member of the German non-governmental organization DVV International (Institute for International Cooperation of the Deutscher Volkshochschul-Verband e.V., or the German Adult Education Association), where she gained experience coordinating projects in Macedonia and Southeastern Europe and later became a country director and regional coordinator.
Through her long-term involvement in the field, she gained insight into the Macedonian adult education system and structures, actors and stakeholders. She also has experience in policy development, lobby and has acted as an advisor to state institutions and adult education providers.
Biljana Mojsovska Manojlova graduated from the Department of German Language and Literature at the Faculty of Philology in Skopje, North Macedonia. Her postgraduate studies cover education management, with a special focus on adult education. Biljana joined DISK in 2020 as an expert in Adult Education and Lifelong Learning. She is married and has a two-year old son with whom she enjoys spending time with. She has a special interest for art and creative crafting and recently attended pottery course which has since turned into a main hobby.
Imer Dalipi has a degree in computer sciences and started a long-term professional career with ProCredit Bank North Macedonia, where he reached the position of a “Head of Business Division”. He has a profound know-how of the North Macedonian financial and business sector, where he has also a proven track record. Imer was engaged in conducting the Fact-Finding Mission as a financial expert for DSIK office in North Macedonia.
Q&A with our North Macedonia Fact-Finding Team
.: What element of the project Strengthening Financial Literacy in North Macedonia you most passional about?
Irina: I am most interested in focusing on sustainable, climate-friendly and adaptive developments in rural areas.
Biljana: I am excited to work on measures that enable the transfer of knowledge and know-how of Sparkassenstiftung, adapted to the local needs and national context.
Imer: I am passionate about financial literacy as a part of the spectrum of essential skills all countries need to thrive. Markets and the societies develop and advance in parallel with its people and the need to understand products and services is essential, and leads to creating a wellbeing within communities.
.: What was the most interesting information that you discovered during your fact-finding mission in North Macedonia?
Irina: For me, the most interesting thing I discovered during the fact-finding mission was the passionate youth we encountered.
Biljana: I learned that there is a lot to be done in order to increase the level of financial literacy starting with increasing access to information and education for all citizens, especially those in rural areas. I realized that financial education is a powerful tool that can help people improve their life and businesses while at the same time indirectly contributing to regional development.
Imer: I was amazed that stakeholders in the financial market and society were so aware of the needs to increase financial education in their customers, partners and cooperants. Many of them have already started an initiative for this purpose, and some were already in more advanced stages. This is very encouraging.
.: What information will you be presenting during the upcoming Stakeholder Workshop?
Irina: During the workshop I will be presenting our findings and also recommendations for future project implementation.
Biljana: I will briefly present the current situation and challenges in financial literacy and financial education in the country through a summary of the views of the respondents.
Imer: The topic on financial literacy is quite wide and extensive, and it could be spoken about many issues and challenges. However, for the Stakeholder Workshop I will be mostly focused on presenting the current situation of the financial sector in the country. I will present an analysis about the demands and make suggestions about how to create bridges to bring together the financial sector and agricultural businesses with the overall objective of strengthening financial literacy and inclusion.