BGN 33,000 Prize Pool was Distributed Among 5 Finalists in the Academy for Local Entrepreneurs 5.0

The five teams that inspired the organizers to increase the prize pool of the Academy will pursue innovation, development, and new markets

On 27th January an emotional albeit virtual ceremony was held to conclude the fifth edition of the Academy for Local Entrepreneurs – a program supporting small business starting and development in the tobacco growing regions. Five teams of entrepreneurs won a total worth of BGN 33,000 in prizes aimed to support them in implementing their business ideas locally.

The Academy for Local Entrepreneurs is organized for a fifth year in a row by the Rinker Center of the BCause Foundation with the financial support of Philip Morris Bulgaria EOOD. It is designed for entrepreneurial people with business ideas from the regions of Haskovo, Kardzhali, Silistra, and Blagoevgrad and has attracted ever-increasing interest.

49 teams submitted ideas to the Academy. After the interview round 14 teams made it through to the training round. In three consecutive weekends the entrepreneurs attended lectures and practical workshops gaining business knowledge and strategy techniques. The teams discussed their ideas, got to know each other, and became part of the growing community of the Academy for Local Entrepreneurs. Due to the worsened COVID – 19 situation the last training session and the final ceremony of the Academy were held online.

After the training and mentoring sessions, the 12 teams developed business plans and presentations which they presented to the jury online during the final ceremony on 27th January. The jury of seven included: Elitsa Barakova, Executive Director of the BCause Foundation, Dilyana Yakova – Regulation and Sustainable Development Manager in Philip Morris Bulgaria, Martina Grigorova – member of the Board of Directors of SIS Credit, Elena Nikolova – Community Development Director in CEO Angels Club, Tsvetan Filev – President of the National Association of Tobacco Growers, Veselin Dimitrov – Editorial Director of Forbes Bulgaria and Denitsa Sokolova – Projects Manager in Darik Radio.

The contestants performed exceptionally well and made it difficult for the jury to make a decision. Ultimately, the prize pool was increased and distributed among 5 excellent teams:

  • Perun Sports Club owned by Iliyan Popov, a sports coach and an enthusiast from Razlog, will be handed out BGN8 000 to invest in improving the facility to attract more children to use the only swimming pool in the town. Iliyan coaches and dedicates his time to working with children with physical and mental disabilities.
  • The founder of Baby SG Silistra, Greta Georgieva, who sells tailor-made ceramic gifts for babies and their parents, will also receive BGN 8,000 to develop and increase the productivity of her business endeavor.
  • BGN 7,000 for improving her product marketing will be awarded to Marina Simeonova, a painter and jeweler from Bansko. In this way her jewelry from natural materials Omaya will reach a larger number of clients, including outside Bulgaria.
  • Todora Krandeva will receive a prize of BGN 5,000 to further develop her idea to produce bed linen from environmentally friendly alternatives to cotton such as lyocell, linen, hemp, and silk. For the extracting of raw silk, she intends to employ the few remaining silk farmers in Bulgaria.
  • Krum Petrov will be awarded BGN 5,000 to purchase mobile equipment for his carpentry workshop which will allow him not only to procure quality wood but also to “save” it for sustainable re-use.

“All 12 finalists made significant progress during the program and showed motivation to put their ideas into practice. The winners stood out with their clear plans, dedication to the business and ambitions for growth, innovations and social and ecological footprint.” – said Elitsa Barakova from the BCause Foundation. “Tonight it was not only the five active young people and their small family businesses in 4 regions that we supported. All of them contribute to the real social and economic activity in the small communities where they live and where they want to develop.” – added Dilyana Yakova from Philip Morris Bulgaria satisfied with the program having achieved its goals.

Marina Simeonova, and her Omaya team of Bansko.

The final ceremony of the Academy for Entrepreneurs marked the end of the seventh edition of the Summer of Joy, Autumn of Care Program carried out by the BCause Foundation.

The program provides support to the tobacco growing communities in the following areas: summer education academies for children from 1st to 7th grade, trainings for teachers in informal teaching methods, support for local entrepreneurs for starting and developing businesses in these regions and medical care for the elderly people.

This long-term program is one of Philip Morris Bulgaria’s corporate social responsibility and sustainable development initiatives. For the past 7 years more than 3,255 children aged 7 to 14, 117 teachers, 1 418 elderly people from 25 small settlements in 11 municipalities from 5 tobacco growing regions have taken part in the program. A total of 65 entrepreneurial teams out of 300 applicants were provided with training and 19 of them received grant support. More than BGN 1.4 M have been invested in the program since its launch. The BCause Foundation and its Training and Entrepreneurship Rinker Centre partner with the Future Now Cultural Center, the Bulgarian Hospital Association and the local municipal administrations in implementing the program.