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With TREPHARM - Kosovo healthier and wealthier
This article is taken from the series of IPAK Vienna/ECIKS Newsletters "Success Stories from Kosovo" (Check at the bottom of this article for the PDF version)
The Kosovo market has become an attractive landing lane for many businessmen and prospective investors from around the world. Europe’s youngest country is increasingly becoming one of the most attractive investment destinations in the Balkans region.
Those that have taken the chance to invest in Kosovo are always ready to trumpet the benefits. Mergim Prishtina met with us to share the story of a newly established company in Kosovo. Trepharm is a Kosovar investment in pharmaceutical production with a concept based on EU Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) standards. Current Good Manufacturing Practice but also other global Quality Standards have been taken in account during the design, construction and commissioning of this project, important for Kosovo’s pharmaceutical community and its prospective customers.
Trepharm is the youngest pharmaceutical manufacturer not only in Kosovo but Balkans too. Mr. Mergim Prishtina, the Managing Director of Trepharm, eagerly shares the details behind the idea of Trepharm because as he says, “from the bitterness of disease man learns the sweetness of health.”
“The lifelong experience of our Chairman, Mr. Bedri Prishtina, in construction and trading, inspired us and we became interested to broaden our operations and invest in the manufacturing field. We conducted a market study and examined the existing industry. As a result we found out that pharmaceuticals, even though very specific and an expensive branch, was a field which was almost inexistent not only in Kosovo itself but also in the region, at least not in the shape that meets the enforced EU regulations. Thus we started cooperation with well known companies who operate in this field worldwide. We have established a very advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing unit and a sophisticated Quality Control Laboratory,” explains Mergim.
Investing in a new field requires patience and know-how in order to meet the obstacles that rise on the way. In the end, the taste of success does wash out the bitterness of the obstacles faced, but Mergim recalls the difficulties:
“The greatest challenge was the lack of expertise amongst Kosovo professionals in this area, so we had to engage many ex-pat professionals in order to achieve our goal of fully running the EU cGMP production plant in Kosovo and at the same time transferring the knowledge of ex-pats to our young professionals,” says Mergim, always insisting that quality was the main objective.
The rise of this new company was not a spotless journey but the founders were determined to invest the very best of their intentions and to make it work regardless of impediments that did occur. The current state shows the fruits of their intensive work:
“We are at the final stage of designing the second manufacturing unit which will broaden our portfolio of solid and semisolid products but also allow us to produce sterile injectible products. Currently we have 56 employees and by end of the current project phase we have foreseen up to 150 employees. For the first two months of market operations we have started an informative campaign regarding our factory and products. We currently supply more than 80% of pharmacies in Kosovo. We are planning on moving to regional markets very soon. As a new producer we are open to cooperation with international partners that have sufficient market access and know-how. We have already established some contacts which show that there is interest in this field.”
The very fact that Mergim and his colleagues at Trepharm have listed out plans to expand the company shows that the market has proven to be beneficial and worthy of investment. The newly established country does provide a stable perspective for interested investors. Mergim identified some macro factors which he said will benefit future investors like him. He went on to cite the currency stability through the use of the Euro, the strategic location of Kosovo, the recent improvements in infrastructure as well as the low labor costs as good reasons to invest in Kosovo.
Mergim and his partners have decided to invest in the health of this country by providing medicine that is produced according to European standards and that offer a secure alternative to the inferior imported pharmaceuticals. And above all, they make this health battle easy to win with all the time and dedication that they devote to this project.
“Although we are still at the first phases of our investment, we are certainly satisfied with our results so far. Therefore, we will be investing further in our capacities. We are currently, with help of ECIKS, looking for additional partners abroad,” says Mergim.
The story of Trepharm recalls the beautiful proverb: “He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything.” The proverb seems to be materialized in the story of this new company that aims to make Kosovo healthier and wealthier.
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ECIKS / IPAK Vienna