In focus: Some policies, schemes & initiatives available for women entrepreneurs in Bulgaria
It was after socio-economic changes in 1989, that entrepreneurship flourished in Bulgaria. It developed in different sectors, tracing different levels of maturity. And, business activities through development and implementation of entrepreneurship and risk-taking – to start a new activity with no guarantee of return on investment, and business success, are widespread. Because of the emergence and functioning of the entrepreneur, it has had a positive impact – like widespread technological innovation, organizational innovation and growth of business in different sectors. Essentially, in a modern, dynamically-changing environment is the support that women and young entrepreneurs have here.
So, Bulgaria is indeed, a good place to start a business. It has the lowest corporate income taxes and social insurance costs in Europe and the country guarantees political stability.
Here are some schemes, initiatives and policies available to women entrepreneurs in Bulgaria.
> National strategy
The Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association is earnestly involved in the working group established within the Ministry of Economy – on the role of women’s entrepreneurship and women entrepreneurs. An Annual Report on the state and development of small and mid-sized enterprises in Bulgaria and the role of women in Bulgarian small and mid-sized business, stressed the importance of the establishment and successful development of small and mid-sized enterprises as a motivational influence on the entrepreneurial spirit. Statistics reveal stable growth of women entrepreneurs and managers in small and mid-sized businesses. Women entrepreneurs in Bulgaria run mainly small retail and service businesses with a significant growth in the number of consultancy firms run by women; and there is a positive trend in computer and Internet service usage by women entrepreneurs.
> Policy responsibility
The responsibility for inclusive entrepreneurship policy is shared across several ministries. The entrepreneurship policies for almost all target groups are under the responsibility of Ministry of Labour and Social Policy (MLSP) and Employment Agency (EA), while some policies are implemented by the Ministry of Economy (MoE); Ministry of Education and Science (MES); Ministry of Youth and Sport (MYS); Ministry of Agriculture and Food (MAF); Agency for People with Disabilities (APD); State Agency of Refugees (SAR); Operational Programme HRD (OPHRD), Operational Programme “Innovation and Competitiveness” (OPIC), and Rural Development Programme (RDP).
Specifically, the measures for women’s entrepreneurship are under the responsibility of: MLSP; MoE; MAF; and MYS. Currently women’s entrepreneurship is supported by some measures of other strategies and action plans such as: National Strategy for Promotion of Equality between Women and Men 2016-20 (14.11.2016) and the National Action Plan for Promotion of Equality between Women and Men 2019-20 (10.05.2019).The MoE also supports the women’s entrepreneurship through the measures of the Entrepreneurship 2020 – Bulgaria Action Plan.
> Bulgarian Association of Women Entrepreneurs (BAWE)
BAWE cooperates with local businesses, state authorities and NGOs abroad – to encourage women’s entrepreneurship in Bulgaria. The association was founded in November 2008 in the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It worked with a mission of encouraging women entrepreneurship in Bulgaria and assisting them – to directly cooperate with local businesses, state authorities and counterpart organizations from all over the world. It provides business development assistance, connects with the partners and markets in Bulgaria and abroad, provides assistance in making business contact establishment and cooperates with governmental organizations, NGOs and associations for business climate improvement.
BAWE provides advice to women, who wish to run a business and also publishes research on developments in female entrepreneurship. The website includes a news section and information about board members, as well as links to other women’s associations.
> Selena Association of Women Entrepreneurs
The association comprises of Bulgarian and Italian professionals – with personal professional and social expertise that are acknowledged to solve women issues. Women who have their own businesses and want to expand them can find up-to date information about everything related to business. The portal contains information about – trainings, laws, rules, proposals, calls & contributions. It also provides its members enough opportunities for networking.
WEgate provides women with access to finance and also assists in networking – by connecting women entrepreneurs to stakeholders and investors. It provides women entrepreneurs with access to networks and also provides necessary information about the various mentorship programs and workshops on entrepreneurship. It acts like a platform for – online networking, exchange and cooperation among aspiring and current women entrepreneurs.
> The Bulgarian Centre for Women in Technology (BCWT)
The Bulgarian Centre for Women in Technology (BCWT) inspires, motivates and supports girls and women in Bulgaria – to get a slot in the digital world. It works to support women’s leadership and increase women’s professional participation in the digital industry, science and entrepreneurship.
Since 2012, Bulgarian Center for Women in Technology (BCWT) has been working exclusively to challenge gender stereotypes and also motivate women in Bulgaria to take up a career in the IT sector.
BCWT initiates networking and cooperates with IT businesses, business incubators and NGOs in the implementation of regional innovative projects; besides, it also organizes training sessions and events, and stimulates research collaboration, exchange of good practices and resource mobilization in the ICT sector.
Specifically, the idea behind the initiative is – to contribute to bring about a change of mindset and improve national environment to encourage women choose ICT and develop a career in the sector. When BCWT’s initiatives started, it was obvious that women in ICT in Bulgaria lacked self-esteem and often had internal psychological barriers.
> Council of Women in Business in Bulgaria
Council of Women in Business in Bulgaria is an association engaged in public benefit. The main objectives are – to promote good practices and programs mainly to encourage the professional development of women in small and medium businesses and their growth in management positions, support of young professionals, to realize their potential in Bulgaria; and also to develop projects to promote business and develop talent in various business areas.
> The Bulgarian Entrepreneurship Center (BEC) Foundation
The Bulgarian Entrepreneurship Center (BEC) Foundation is a Bulgarian public benefit foundation that aims to encourage and support aspiring entrepreneurs in Bulgaria. Its mission is to help Bulgarians develop an entrepreneurial ecosystem, whereby programs are formed – to educate, mentor, fund, and service entrepreneurial endeavours, on an all-inclusive basis, and thereby promote prosperity through economic development.In short, BEC Foundation works to fuse entrepreneurial attitude and skill sets into the Bulgarian DNA in order to inspire and enable people to prosper and serve their community.
Most prominently, many of BEC’s programs are conducted by entrepreneurs from across America – from Tech Valley to Silicon Valley – to create a “bridge” between Bulgaria and the United States for the exchange of knowledge, expertise and resources.