Between 13th and 18th of June, a working visit was held in Sofia as part of the “DIVE into social entrepreneurship” project. 16 young people from around the world, representing 8 countries, gathered to discuss the specifics of social entrepreneurship (by participating in a round table and a visit to the Ministry of labour and social policy), to visit some of the existing enterprises in Sofia (such as “Maria’s world” Foundation, Jamba and The Bread House) and of course to exchange good practices between themselves.
The 17-month long ERASMUS+ project “DIVE into social entrepreneurship” started in the end of last year. The coordinating organization is Youth Alliance Krusevo (Macedonia) and its partners and participants in the activities are the representatives from another 7 countries: Eurodemos (Romania), National Youth Forum (Bulgaria), Association of Active Youths in Florina (Greece), International Blue Crescent Relief and Development Foundation (Turkey), Intercambio Cultural & Voluntariado – ACI (Costa Rica), Art22 (Brazil) and Belle & Co (South Africa).
So far, the following project tasks have been realized: research on the development of social entrepreneurship in each country, a seminar in Iasi, Romania in February, trainings in social entrepreneurship in Greece and Turkey from March to May.
After the Study Visit in Sofia, a couple of Job Shadowing visits are to be held in some of the more distant countries.
In the opening days of the Study visit in Sofia (14 and 15 of June), which was organized by the hosting organization – National youth forum, the participants visited several social enterprises in the city: “Maria’s World” Foundation, Jamba and The Bread House, and met with representatives from the Ministry of labour and social policy.
- Maria’s World Foundation
The Foundation works for improving the quality of life and helping with the personal development of people with intellectual disabilities. The day center “Worlds”, which was visited by the participants of the project, was founded in 2013 and since then has been providing services and care to 32 young people, who were treated as mentally disabled prior to that. Here they are trained in everyday and working skills, taking part in 4 different workshops. Their most recent activity since 2015 has been the provision of catering services, and the young mentally disabled people have been not only preparing the dishes, but also serving them to customers, thus demonstrating their newly acquired social and working skills. More info on the foundation can be found here.
JAMBA’s mission is to help disabled people in Bulgaria with their professional development, by connecting them to potential employers on the job market. The enterprise provides an online platform for application and selection – a meeting between employers in need of candidates for job positions and candidates with different capabilities who match the criteria, taking into account their individual needs for an accessible working environment. Apart from that the JAMBA team offers opportunities for development of disabled people by consulting services and free trainings in key areas (JAMBA MIXER). JAMBA’s goals for 2017 are: informing the business of the potential people with disabilities; preparing candidates in the IT sector with the possibility of further expanding the trainings into other spheres; at least 500 JAMBA HEROES hired and persisted on their new jobs. For more information – here.
- The Bread House
The Bread House, which is part of the Bread Houses Network, is a social and cultural center as well as a social enterprise (a bakery). The Bread houses network is an organization, aiming to connect people of varying ethnicity, age, and social status and bring them all together around the bread-making process. Some of their projects include “Theater of crumbs”, “Kitchen music” and “Bakers without borders” which are all centered around the baking of bread, while integrating people with special needs and refugees as well as helping young people with their professional orientation. The enterprise trains and employs people with special needs and young people from foster homes. More info.
- Ministry of labour and social policy
The visit to the Ministry of labour and social policy brought together the project participants, representatives of the National Youth Forum and of the institution itself – Deputy-Minister Sultanka Petrova and other experts. The following topics were discussed: what policies are enacted regarding the definition of social entrepreneuship; what financing programs exist on a national level to support social entrepreneurs; how can the cooperation between sectors be further developed. After these questions were answered, the dialog shifted towards examining some of the good practices from abroad.
After the successfully concluded visits, on June 16th a round table was held on the topic of Social Entrepreneurship, in which the participants, along with representatives of “BCause” and “Reach for change” foundations and the National Youth Forum, had the opportunity to discuss important subjects, such as: what should the definition of “social entrepreneurship” be and is there a need for a definition in the first place; what are the challenges to the sustainability of social enterprises and what are the good practices internationally.
In the last days spent in Bulgaria, the participants started working on joint projects which have so far been developed on an idea level, and also received expert consultation on the possibilities which the ERASMUS+ program provides for their financing.