Language Albanian

Launched 2013
Closed No

Developer Cahani, Mergim

Country of Origin US America

2013 - [...] Gjirafa, Inc.

Topic Universal

Region Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia

Technical functionalities
Robot/Crawler based, algorithmic search
Web Portal

Used SeEn Gjirafa

Older Version Internet Archive / WebCite

Reback, Gedalyah (2016/02/12): »In a world of search engines and information indexing, some minority languages are waiting their turn. For 12 million Albanian-speakers, it’s also a more fundamental matter of getting documents and books and newspapers and bus schedules that are in Albanian online. That’s where Gjirafa comes in — and the $2 million they just scored in venture capital. Gjirafa is based in Kosovo, the former Serbian province that was once at the heart of the Balkan Wars. It is ethnically and linguistically Albanian, but functioning as an independent country. Gjirafa’s founder, CEO Mergim Cahani, started developing his company’s mission when he was a student in the U.S. “I had a few roommates from Czech Republic; one of them was hired later on by Credo Ventures as an associate (an investor in StartupYard). He recommended that I apply — I did, I got accepted and the rest followed,” he told Geektime. While getting his Master’s Degree at New York University, he worked with Professor Torsten Suel, a pioneer in web search that Gjirafa now counts among its top advisers. Cahani’s company is a graduate of the Startup Yard accelerator in Prague, presumably where Gjirafa first met their Series A investor Prague-based Rockaway Capital of CEO Jakub Havrlant. The money will go toward scaling Gjirafa’s operations to turn it into an e-commerce, advertising and search giant for Kosovo and Albania. The site already hosts listings for rentals, job openings and claims the largest online marketing platform in those two countries and Macedonia. The site is digitizing information either dispersed on the web or not online at all. Using a natural language processing algorithm, they hope to cover ground ignored by other search engines. “We implement a hybrid approach in search; statistical and language-NLP based. Something that does not exist in academic research for the Albanian language,” Cahani notes. Albanian is linguistically unique, in a language subfamily all by itself within the larger Indo-European branch. That can make it difficult to pick up if you’re not a native speaker, having far less of a cognate language to reference while learning it like English-speakers might when learning Spanish or German. That drawback also gives Gjirafa a counter-intuitive advantage. Cahani cites Startup Yard investor, a Czech search engine that reputes itself as the only search engine in the Western world with a lead in its domestic search market against Google. Seznam has become as synonymous with the web in Prague as Google has in the U.S.; so too, Gjirafa appears headed for that status for Albanian speakers. The “Albanian-language web is in its infancy; [it’s] not developed enough,” Cahani tells Geektime. “As such, [it] is not rich and one cannot find something online that does not exist (e.g., Bus Schedule, Business Contact data, blogs that discuss important themes, and the common items that one may look up online).” [...]« Source

GEW: » is the first Albanian language search engine. It offers searching capabilities for all Albanian web pages on the Internet - currently it has over 15 million pages indexed in Albanian language.Furthermore, is a news aggregator, ofers the bus schedule, weather services, and provides up to minute large event information from the region.« Source

SOUTHEAST EUROPE STARTUP REPORT 2017: »Gjirafa is for over 12 million of people who speak Albanian language worldwide, and who can’t search the Albanian web, due to their very unique language. Gjirafa, is an Albanian search engine and a news aggregator that uses natural language processing to finally make the Albanian web accessible to all.« Source


Gjirafa is Albanian for Giraffe.

Critical points

Features & Functionality


References & further Publications

Wikipedia (EN): n.a.
Wikipedia (Others):

Other Sources

Reback, Gedalyah (2016/02/12): Kosovo’s Gjirafa search engine scores $2M as Google fails Albanian speakers URL:
Brendan Maynard (2014): Albanian search startup Gjirafa takes off as local challenger to Google URL:
inVentures (2014): Battling the Google Goliath URL:
Lloyd Waldo (2014): Meet the 2014 Founders: Gjirafa, Albania/Kosovo’s answer to Google URL:
Lloyd Waldo (2014): 5 Months out of StartupYard, Thrives URL:
Ercan Canhasi (2015): GSolver: Artificial solver of word association game URL:
Gjirafa Case Study [Doc] URL:

Created: 2016-02-14