Samir Mane is a successful Albanian businessman. Mane went to Austria in the early 90s in search of a better life. He arrived in the refugee camp in Traiskirchen but was able to move to better accommodation in Altenmarkt soon afterwards. After working as a translator he set up his own business in 1992. Starting with only 2 employees he now runs a multinational enterprise with 904 employees, including 22 foreign managers.
"I went there for a reason, to have a better life. This better life I created. Now I can have the same standard of life in Albania. What I am missing in Albania is hospitals. The other things I have in Albania, just as I did in Vienna: a good life, good schools, almost everything, I'm not missing anything. The reason why I came back is that I can be with my family; I can be with my parents. I feel comfortable here, I have better possibilities to grow my business, and anyway I have the office in Austria, which is running very well. So I am very often in Austria actually, but I came back, as I told you, for the better life which I looked for at that time, it has already come."
Today, Mane is the president of the Mane TCI Group, which includes Euromax, one of Albania's biggest retailers.
"I have a rule that I want to be number one in my business, if not, I sell, I close or I try to be number one. In all the business categories that I am now working in I am number 1 actually. In different fields: in consumer electronics, in grocery, in commercial estate"
In 2005 Mane's company opened Univers Shopping Centre in Tirana. Covering 21,500 sq meters with a 4000 sq meter hypermarket and more than 30 shops, the mall is the largest in the country:
"Until a few years ago I never thought that I was going to have a shopping mall. The idea came three or four years ago, when I saw a lot of development going on in the southeast European shopping malls business. I decided to build this. Now I see it as a small baby that's growing up fast, and I'm definitely feeling very happy and comfortable that I was able to create this shopping mall."
He has confidence in the development of Albania's economy and aims to make Univers Shopping Centre the first in a chain of malls across Albania. Mane sees tourism as the most promising sectors in a new Albanian economy but the loss of skilled workers is impeding development:
"The best people in this industry are for the moment not in the country. Almost 40.000 Albanians are living in Greece, all of them, or I can say 50 percent of them are working in tourism. They are professionals in the tourism industry."