“Work, risk, dare! All beginnings are hard but with passion, devotion and professionalism you will achieve success”
Suzana Numani Rama, owner of Numani educational institutions
Creator of one of the first private educational institutions in Albania
The school now counts around 1000 students and 90 teachers
Mother of two: her son Albi, a student in computer science engineering, and her daughter Besa administrator and headmistress at Numani
Having been under state management since the Communist regime, schools in Albania underwent a number of changes in the 1990s. Along with the removal of old Communist propaganda in school curricula, non-public institutions started to open up. Suzana Numani Rama, who was a teacher at the time, decided to take matters into her own hands and opened a private school herself. Combining her skills in teaching and entrepreneurship, which run in the family, she started with 64 students and nine staff. Here, she tells WEgate who inspired her, what challenges she faced and offers advice to future women entrepreneurs.
WEgate: Tell us more about your company
Suzana Rama: It was precisely 1999 when non-public education began in Albania and the first private schools were established. At that time, I was working as a teacher in a secondary school in my town and was also helping my mother, who was a shopkeeper, after my classes.
Apart from teaching, I had been learning entrepreneurship skills, which is how the idea of a private school came about.
When it opened its doors, the school counted 64 students and nine staff. Now we have 1000 students and 90 teachers. My daughter Besa is a senior high school student, administrator and headmistress of the Numani educational institutions, at all levels: day care, secondary and high school.
What or who inspired you to set up your own business?
My first support and inspiration was my father who is an honoured and respected teacher in our town.
What challenges did you face when you decided to launch your company? Did you have any sort of support from organisations?
I knew I had to do things differently from state schools. The facilities, the service, the transport and of course the teaching had to be at the top. I faced this challenge every day, asking myself whether I was doing my best or if there was something more I could do. These thoughts still cross my mind daily, reminding me that you must always do the best you can. To manage and run a school is an art because every day it is like carving a sculpture which is part of yourself, your soul and your being… and it is hard work!
The main goal of a head teacher is to provide professional leadership and management so that the school is successful. The leader is responsible for creating a warm, productive and motivating learning environment for the students and the teachers – as well as the inseparable partner, the parent.
At first we faced difficult conditions in rented establishments. However, we always chose the best academic staff. And thanks to them – and my passion and devotion – we succeeded.
Added value came from one of my main supports – my membership in the SHGPAZ (‘Shoqata e Grave Profesioniste Afariste dhe Zejtare’ – Business and Professional Women's Association and Crafts), which is a unique association supporting women entrepreneurs in Albania.
Entrepreneurship is still often considered a man's territory; what advice would you give young women who want to become an entrepreneur?
I must admit my husband is a great support and helps me manage the financial aspects.
This year, we fulfilled a number of achievements. Getting our top-ranking students in various local and regional competitions is not just about business; we also teach them citizenship values. We are educating future entrepreneurs: those who will lead this country in the years to come.
Our school is one of the best in terms of contemporary teaching methods, such as interactive whiteboards, designed to nurture the learning process. And we also teach them to be proud of being part of their nation.
Typically, entrepreneurial activities have little space in Albanian schools’ curricula but we have given it the appropriate importance by developing special modules. In fact, this year we won the first prize in a competition held by the education ministry with our 10 and 11 grade students and their business idea ‘Recycling jeans’.
The school also has an active alumni network to enable past and present students to keep in touch. We often urge our alumni to become entrepreneurs in their professions. I always tell them: work, risk, dare! All beginnings are hard but with passion, devotion and professionalism you will achieve success.
What is your favourite part of your job?
Education, education, education!
Every day my main motto is: ‘Wisdom makes us powerful and power makes us victorious’.