On March 15th, TSA hosted a ceremony for the first class of graduates from its Business Achievement Program. Among the guests of the ceremony were Ms. Martina Strong, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria, Ms. Dessislava Taliokova, Executive Director of America for Bulgaria Foundation, Mr. Stamen Yanev, Executive Director of the InvestBulgaria Agency, as well as representatives of the business sector and non-governmental organizations.
All graduates were required to make a business pitch to a volunteer jury of business professionals, and four of the graduates won the competition for best business plan. Angel Valentinov’s business project Mum, Dad, and I Fashion House won the first prize of 7000 BGN. Spas Spassov from Sofia won the second prize of 5000 BGN for starting his Foodtruck Mobile Restaurant. Stefan Stefanov won the third prize of 4000 BGN for timber and log sales in the Trun Municipality. Plamen Iliev from the Vratsa village of Malorad won 3000 BGN for starting his Idea Mobile Bookstore that provides parents and their children from distant rural areas with access to services and school materials for their full educational development.
“When I looked through the syllabus of the program, honestly speaking, I couldn’t find many differences with a 2-year master program in the US. It is truly remarkable what you achieved and learned throughout the course”, said Mr. Rossen Ivanov, TSA board member and co-founder of the Black Peak Capital co-investment fund, in his address to the graduates of the program. 14 participants graduated from the five-month pilot course for emerging entrepreneurs and small business owners. The program is based on the successful model Workshop In Business Opportunities, which has successfully served minorities, war veterans, single mothers, and other members of disadvantaged communities for 49 years. “In the United States, more than 54 % of WIBO businesses continue to be successful 5 years after the end of the program and we are hopeful that we’ll ultimately achieve a similar level of success in Bulgaria” shares Kamelia Atanasova, who manages the Business Achievement Program at the TSA.