The Academy for Local Entrepreneurs of the BCause Foundation’s Rinker Centre is the Bulgarian nomination for the Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship Award of the European Commission

The Academy for Local Entrepreneurs is the winner at national level to represent Bulgaria in the Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship category of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2022 competition.

The Academy for Local Entrepreneurs is organized for a fifth year in a row with the financial support of Philip Morris Bulgaria as part of the Sustainable Development of the Tobacco Growing Regions Program “Summer of Joy, Autumn of Care”.

The European Commission has selected the Ministry of Economy and Industry of Bulgaria to hold the national competition. The competition takes place every year in two stages – the applicants selected at the national stage compete in six categories at European level. The Academy for Local Entrepreneurs is the winner in the national competition in the Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship category. In September a jury appointed by the European Commission will review all national entries and will choose the winners in the six categories as well as the winner of the Grand Jury Prize. The contribution of all national winners nominated to compete at European level will be recognized at a special award ceremony which will take place in Prague in November when the final winners will be announced.

“To be chosen as national winners and be among the nominated finalists in Europe is a great joy and honour for us. But what is most valuable, and satisfying is the outcome of our efforts – to contribute to retaining and bringing back young people who are determined to change their future and the future of the small town and village communities in Bulgaria. The Academy for Local Entrepreneurs 6.0 was launched on 12 September 2022 and with every edition since 2017 we are seeing more participants and more diverse and ambitious small business startup ideas.“, says Elitsa Barakova, Executive Director of the BCause Foundation.

Academy for Local Entrepreneurs is a training program specially designed for people with entrepreneurial ideas who want to start their own business. It is aimed at the tobacco growing regions in Bulgaria – the regions of Kardzhali, Haskovo, Blagoevgrad and Silistra. It is carried out by the the Rinker Center for Entrepreneurship and Training of the BCause Foundation with the financial support of Philip Morris Bulgaria under the “Summer of Joy, Autumn of Care” Program. More than 300 business ideas have applied for participation and 65 entrepreneurship teams have been provided with training in the 5 editions of the program so far and 19 of them have received grants amounting to more than BGN 130,000.

The teams put into practice innovative ideas from Bulgaria and the world or base their projects on the local conditions, resources, and traditions. The local sustainable startups create jobs and serve as an example that career development and good life are possible in the small towns and villages of Bulgaria.

“Entrepreneurship is an important part of the solution to the problems that the remote towns and villages are faced with. The Academy supports pro-active people in acquiring different skills and building up confidence to implement their ideas by providing them with pragmatic training. Through the Academy the participants develop business skills, receive counselling and mentorship, and gain access to publicity and promotion of their services and products and last but not least to startup funding.”, explains Yavor Gotchev from the Rinker Center for Entrepreneurship and Training of the BCause Foundation.

The Academy for Local Entrepreneurs under the “Summer of Joy, Autumn of Care” Program received yet another recognition this year. Two of the winners in the entrepreneurship academies were selected for the annual “40 under 40” initiative of Darik Radio. Kamen Bakardjiev, creator of Kamen’s Flowers and winner in the third Academy edition in 2020 was selected in the Business category. Ilian Popov, the swimming coach who took part in the 5th Academy edition, was recognised for his devotion to working with children, including children with physical and mental disabilities, in the only swimming club in Razlog – Perun – in the Sport category. Lena Panayotova, Katrin Tomova and Nadezhda Indjova were also chosen to be among the 40 people in the Education category. They are members of the trainers’ team for the education and adventure academy for teachers held as part of the “Summer of Joy, Autumn of Care” Program.

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