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Fulbright Scholar stories

Vladimir L. Kvint
Professor, Graduate School of Business, Department of Management Systems,
Fordham University, New York, NY 10023
Lecturing: Economics
Host: University of Vlora, Vlora, Albania
March 2001 - June 2001

 

Dr. Kvint with mayor of Vlora Niko Veizai (left), Mr. Dritan Celaj and Lady Hazel Rose.

Economist Vladimir Kvint's Fulbright project took him to the Albanian city of Vlora, a strategically important seaport in a country struggling with high unemployment, widespread corruption and a totalitarian past. Pedestrians, motorists, donkeys and cows converged on the same busy arteries, and museums closed on weekends. But at the Vlora Technological University, where Kvint lectured and met with the country's top government officials, central bankers and journalists, he had an opportunity that most educators can only dream of-to as he put it, "consult, and be useful."

Asked to recommend ways of improving Albania's standard of living and business climate, Kvint studied its emerging markets and shaky infrastructure and proposed, among other things: micro-credit loans of up to $4,000 to promote entrepreneurship; a law requiring companies run their payrolls through banks to make the cash-based economy more transparent; direct appeals for foreign investment; and economic amnesty for Albanian businesses with bank accounts in other countries. "There is too much Albanian money sitting in foreign banks," he explains. "When a country doesn't have the money to create jobs, unemployment increases and instability appears."

President Rexhep Mejdani responded by endorsing economic amnesty, which has helped to restore billions of dollars to the economies of Italy, Argentina and Kazakhstan. Micro-credit loans are also being made and Kvint's other proposals are being studied in Albania's parliament and vigorously debated in the media.

Ironically, Albania wasn't Kvint's first choice. The Russian-born Fordham University management and international business professor had applied for a Fulbright grant to teach and study privatization in Bulgaria, which he had visited as a consultant to King Simeon II. But he warmed to Albania, growing to admire the beauty of its Adriatic and Ionic coasts and its "entrepreneurial spirit;" its economy is growing at the rate of 7.5 percent-the highest, he notes, in all of Europe.

Kvint also studied the coal and bitumen mines of Selenica, acquired material for a book about emerging markets in the Balkan countries, and learned enough phrases to make himself understood in restaurants and hotels. But his proudest accomplishment may have been summed up in a testimonial letter by Dr. Bilal Shkurtaj, rector of his host institution. "His suggestions make us feel optimistic for the future of our town and our country," Shkurtaj wrote.

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The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program and is supported by the people of the United States and partner countries around the world. For more information, visit fulbright.state.gov.

The Fulbright Scholar Program is administered by CIES, a division of the Institute of International Education.

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