The potential that diaspora groups represent for development in their countries of origin is increasingly becoming the focus of development cooperation. Their professional expertise and knowledge of other cultures are additional resources for their countries of origin. It is often difficult to mobilise these diverse groups, so communication is key. The internet is especially well suited to reaching younger migrants.
A versatile, popular platform
Albinfo.ch provides professional, unbiased information for the Albanian-speaking diaspora and other interested groups. At the end of 2013, it was totalling 150,000 visits per month. The website offers a wide range of its own content, including:
daily feature articles and short reports in Albanian, and to a lesser extent in French and German;
a weekly newsletter;
the weekly television programme "Diversité", coproduced and broadcast by "La Télé": panel debates with experts and reports on the topic of immigration and integration in Switzerland;
a bimonthly television programme "In & Out" broadcast on Kosovo national television (RTK): documentaries and debate on development, the Balkans and integration.
An iPhone app is also available. Some 38,000 people are linked to albinfo.ch via Facebook. As well as its annual conference, albinfo.ch organises several panel debates a year and is present at public events.
Albinfo.ch sets change in motion
Albinfo.ch is having an impact on the situation in Kosovo and other Albanian-speaking regions in the Balkans. For example, thanks to albinfo.ch the Kosovar beer brand "Peja" has also become wellknown in Switzerland and is now on the shelves of one of Switzerland's biggest retailers. This has helped create new jobs in Kosovo. A branch of the Swiss outpatient dentistry clinic "Swiss Dental" has been able to increase its turnover in Kosovo. It provides jobs locally as well as Swissquality services in Kosovo.
Albinfo.ch discussed falling pupil numbers in Albanian classes for native speakers that are offered as part of compulsory schooling. This caused demand for these courses to rise again. Language skills in second and third-generation immigrants are vital to their involvement in their country of origin.
An "In & Out" report on the difficult situation of Kosovar asylum seekers in France revealed that many Kosovars imagine the asylum process to be far simpler than in reality. Since then, the trend of seeking asylum in Europe has fallen.
Its independence allows albinfo.ch to broach controversial subject matter and cast a critical perspective on the situation in the Balkans. This has had a positive influence on reporting in the countries of the Balkans.
The albinfo.ch association and its objectives
The Swiss albinfo.ch association was established in 2009. The association's executive committee brings together representatives from the diaspora, Swiss institutions and the media to guarantee professional standards and good business practices within the association. Albinfo.ch maintains partnerships with various media outlets in the Balkans.
Its objective is to provide the Albanian-speaking diaspora with a professional, neutral information and communication service and to create an interactive platform for individuals and associations. This will contribute to integration in Switzerland on the one hand and to the impact of the diaspora on development in the Balkans on the other.
The SDC helps to fund activities focused on the Balkans, providing a maximum of 50% of the Swiss funding. Swiss funding is also provided by the Federal Office for Migration (FOM) and the Federal Commission on Migration (FCM).