Community development, Environment and sustainability, social entrepreneurship

Innovation for SCaling up Rural ENterprise-ISCREN shortlist

Empowering young people for social entrepreneurship, circular economy and regenerative agriculture in South-East Bulgaria.

Creators

Who is behind this?

Apostol Apostolov

Botanica Life Foundation (BLF)

https://botanicalife.wixsite.com/botanica-eng

Bulgaria

Who is joining forces?

Junior Achievement Bulgaria (JA Bulgaria)

https://www.jabulgaria.org/en/

Bulgaria


We will partner with JA Bulgaria, which is a leading educational organisation in Bulgaria, a member of JA Europe and JA Worldwide. They will contribute particularly to research and training.

Idea

Idea pitch

Social enterprise is one of the foundations of democracy and civil society. Social enterprise is particularly underdeveloped in Bulgarian rural areas, where determined and self-directed social entrepreneurs are the missing link between funding sources and programme aspirations, and local communities. Our project will train social entrepreneurs and provide the necessary bridging social capital to drive innovative, effective and resourceful community initiatives.

Where will your project idea take place?

The project will take place in the village of Nadarevo, region of Targovishte, North-East Bulgaria.

What is the local challenge?

North East Bulgaria is a rural region with villages and small towns. Agriculture is a key industry. Nadarevo is a typical example of a place with rich natural resources but limited opportunities for developing social and environmentally-friendly small enterprises. The agricultural sector, for example, is owned by a handful of large landholders who do not tolerate competition. Civil society is fragmented, people are disempowered, unemployment rates are high and will be exacerbated by COVID-19. Many young people leave their home villages and migrate to big urban centres or richer European countries. With this project we want to encourage a healthy democratic climate and support opportunities for transparent community initiatives for social entrepreneurship and local development.

How does your idea strengthen democracy and active citizenship at a local and community level?

We will support young people from the region to become social entrepreneurs. The project will empower young people to become agents of change in their communities by providing them with skills for social entrepreneurship, decision-making, community building, and project management. We will provide practical training in these areas, with a particular focus on developing projects of regenerative agriculture and circular economy in a rural context. Our training centre in Nadarevo will be adapted to become a “civil society hub” where participants from the region will share ideas, participate in debates and plan civic and entrepreneurial action in their home communities. We will use our own new training manual, drawing on folk high school Grundtvigian approaches to teaching bottom-up democracy.

Who are you doing it for?

The project is targeting young people from rural and semi-rural areas, predominantly from, but not limited to, North East Bulgaria. These will be young people from small communities who are threatened with exclusion and social marginalisation due to the geographic, demographic or socio-economic disadvantages in their communities. Yet, these will be young people who share the entrepreneurial spirit and have the potential to become social entrepreneurs and drivers of social change in their communities. The project will also benefit indirectly the whole communities these young people will be coming from through influencing various processes there, e.g. decision-making, local elections, economic trends, etc. The project will involve a minimum of 24 young people.

How do you plan to get there?

We will identify up to 5 locations in the region through a mapping exercise. Then, through interviews and snowballing surveys we will identify: a) local leaders and connectors, and b) a minimum of 24 young people who will participate in an educational course which we will run. The course will include the following modules:
-Community building principles and how to attract stakeholders
-Social capital and capacity building for small communities
-Building a vision for our region
-Entrepreneurial skills, leadership and resilience. Social and rural entrepreneurship
-Principles of design thinking
-Project management – carrying out a civic initiative
-“Going live” – preparing for a hands-on local initiative.
Finally, the participants will undertake a local initiative in their locations.

What are the expected results?

The project will change the life trajectories and livelihoods of a minimum of 24 young people from up to 5 countryside locations in Bulgaria. It will lead to strengthened community potential through empowering and enabling young people to become social entrepreneurs, initiate civil actions, and change the future perspectives of their home towns or villages. These 24 people will form a tightly-knit network of active local groups that support and inspire each other for meaningful local action. The project will result in raising awareness about regenerative agriculture, circular economy and sustainable development, and in the formation of concrete actionable ideas to integrate these concepts in community life.

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

European rural regions face disproportionate demographic, economic, social and environmental pressures, including population ageing, lack of jobs and livelihoods, and the destructive social and environmental effects of industrial farming. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the EU has tried to address the needs of small farmers and rural entrepreneurs, encouraging circular and inclusive economic models. However, the sheer scale of CAP subsidies, and their different implementation at national levels, have led to rising oligarchic interests, suppressed civil rights and diminished opportunities for sustainable development. Our project will address this crisis of democracy by equipping local entrepreneurs with tools for building social capital and eliciting positive community change.

What is your story?

Both BLF and JA Bulgaria are passionate about empowering young people and providing them with the skills and knowledge to achieve their goals. We believe that our communities need active and empowered youth who can bring about change for a better future. BLF was established with a motivation to regenerate the village of Nadarevo by bringing back young people to their farming roots. We believe that through this project we will manage to reach more young people in rural regions and inspire a proactive attitude in them towards resolving the problems of their local communities. We are striving to achieve positive change at a local level by providing young people with the training and mentoring needed to be successful entrepreneurs and active citizens.

€ 45050,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 45050,-

Total budget

Major expenses

Preliminary research (mapping, interviews, snowballing) 2500 EUR
Travel for participants 700 EUR
Accommodation for participants 2700 EUR
Food for participants 2700 EUR
Office expenses 3600 EUR
Subscription for online conferencing 650 EUR
Personnel and administrative costs BLF 18000 EUR
Personnel and administrative costs JA Bulgaria 12000 EUR
Training facilitation 900 EUR
Training equipment and materials 800 EUR
Dissemination event 500 EUR

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would like to get in touch with other networks for social entrepreneurship in rural communities from other regions across Europe. We would like to receive feedback especially on the conceptual design of our idea and our educational approach.

Team

Apostol Apostolov

Idea created on May 26, 2020
Last edit on Aug. 3, 2020

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