It’s been a year since the 2nd generation of Risers completed the RISE Journey support program. To mark the occasion, we turn to them to find out what they’ve become. Today, we had the pleasure of talking to one of the inspiring entrepreneurs who took part in this transformative journey: Ornold, founder and guide of Reality Escapers Albania.
Reality Escapers Albania is a responsible tourism agency promoting rural tourism in the Vlora region of Albania. Ornold and his team offer a wide range of activities (hiking, kayaking, excursions, etc.) connected to the region’s nature and culture.
Could you tell us more about the latest developments in Reality Escapers Albania’s activities since RISE Journey 2?
Ornold: “Our business has been growing steadily. We have recently opened an office in Vlora, which has allowed us to expand our services to include kayaking tours. Additionally, we were the winners of the Green Business Challenge 2023, and we plan to invest in mountaineering gear to offer hiking tours with the highest level of security, including during the winter which is a popular time for mountain lovers.”
Can you tell us about any support that has been important for your journey?
Ornold: “The Rise Journey was our first supporter. It provided us with opportunities to learn new skills in social business, pitching, and travel in the Western Balkans region through a mobility program. Moreover, the latest helped us develop our mountaineering gear expertise. We also partnered with Lekmir and a new team member, Foni, to create tourist packages related to rural areas in Vlora, which we are selling to different tourists.”
Can you share a memorable story that encapsulates the positive change your social enterprise has brought?
Ornold: “We are proud to say that people from rural areas of Vlora are starting to contact us to exchange ideas on developing sustainable tourism and guesthouses. Starting this year, we plan to offer mountaineering tours during the winter, which will extend our tourist season and attract more clients to our country and villages.”
Why is it important for young people to be agents of change?
Ornold: “In Albania and across the Balkans, many young people want to leave their countries and start new lives elsewhere. Consequently, this is leading to a shortage of staff and an ageing population, which is affecting all economic sectors. We believe that tourism and small enterprise offer new opportunities for younger people to create businesses. They have the knowledge and access to financial sources from different donors, but we need more efforts and initiatives from governments to convince them to stay in our country.”
What are your next steps?
Ornold: “We plan to create opportunities for training and knowledge exchange with three individuals who are interested in working as tourist guides. We also invite you to try our adventures and escape together.”
Reality Escapers Albania is a sustainable tourism agency offering tours in the Albanian wilderness. The team offers tours throughout the year, contact them or follow their activities on: