What do hazelnuts, a historical figure from Novobërda, Norway, and the urge to take care of the environment have in common? That is "Pelini's", a Kosovo producer of healthy food products made of nuts.
Ervin Ibrahimi is the founder of this business, which is located in Ulpiana quarter in Prishtina. Some years ago, Ervin and his wife Majlinda were students in Norway. Surrounded by the Norwegian way of life, they embraced their culture of taking care of nature and its resources. Even during their employment with international organizations in Kosovo, the Ibrahimis embodied increasingly the philosophy of sustainable environmental practices and healthy living.
In 2013, Ervin got the idea to plant hazelnut trees in their family land nearby Novobërdë village. The research journey into what more he could do with the hazelnuts started at the market of Prishtina. Talking to the sellers at the market, Ervin realized what the best ways to market his product. He started his business by distributing orders for dehulled hazelnuts to a growing list of clients, seeking the quality of his product. “On my way to the office every morning I would deliver the orders” tell Ervin about the beginnings of ‘Pelini’s’.
He was inspired to name his business ‘Pelini’s’ after Gjergj Pelini, a historical figure from the era of Scanderbeg, born in Novobërdë – the same place where he started to plant hazelnut trees.
Some time after, as the demand for hazelnuts grew, he opened a store in Ulpiana quarter. Remaining faithful to the environmentally friendly philosophy he ascribes too and wishing to leave the least footprint on the environment, the entire store was done with reused interior elements, mainly wood.
Afterwards came the next research stage into what else he could offer to the consumers.
“That is how I reached the decision to begin with the production of nut butter varieties and cold pressed oils,” says Ervin.
Now, the cosy store of ‘Pelini’s’ in Prishtina, contains a rich list of delightful and healthy products: various types of nuts, fresh butter instantly made using nuts, cold pressed oil from nuts, dried fruit, types of flour, these being ingredients that are increasingly becoming part of a healthy-living diet.
While expanding and advancing his business, Ervin reached a stage when he needed support, an additional push. Through the collaboration with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation project Promoting Private Sector Employment, ‘Pelini’s’ introduced some changes.
Firstly, he managed to acquire a line for the production of butter from nuts, coconut oil, and tahini halva. Apart from installing the line, the assistance helped improve production technique, efficiency, increased the production capacity and enabled a greater presence in the market. The website design and the packaging design for new products were part of this support too.
The support continued with the assistance through the Senior Expert Contact program of Swisscontact. Through this, the company increased the number of products and improved their formula, increasing at the same time the efficiency, quality, and capacity.
‘Pelini’s’ store is one of the interesting spaces of Prishtina, where consumers not only buy hazelnuts of the highest quality, made in Kosovo, but can also buy nut butters that are made right on the spot.
“We have many clients who buy from us not only for their food needs, but also gifts. They come to the store with their own glass jars, so we can fill those with any type of butter or products they like. Reusing jars in this way is in line with our environmental philosophy,” says Ervin.