Feb 17, 2017

Vulnerable Bulgarians trained in business skills

Rachel, 64-year old widow
Rachel, 64-year old widow

Dear friends and supporters,

Christmas is long past but we would like to share some of what we did around Christmas.. You know Christmas is about giving.. God gave us the Greatest Gift, Jesus Christ and thought us how to give generously.

We also decided to give to various small businesses in Bulgaria. Here are two examples:

Nellie is an unemployed single mother, who attended our Start-up training in 2016. She is willing to start her own business in selling children's clothes. She needed a bit more time to submit her initial draft business plan and we did not know why. Eventually we received it.. hand-written on paper. She did not have a computer, nor a laptop. So as a Christmas gift she received a second hand laptop so she can write her business plan and do more research on the Internet. She was indeed surprised as we did not tell her anything beforehand... Just on Saturday morning, December 24th, an unknown man turned up at her door, rang the bell and gave her the laptop. You can imagine her excitement.. or maybe not... She will need some time to learn how to use MS Word, and we will be expecting her Business Plan soon.

On the picture you see Rachel (fake name, the picture is also intentionally blurry.) She is a 64-year old widow in a Muslim village in South Bulgaria. Rachel is a devoted Christian and living in a Muslim village is not always easy for her. She has no job and no support from the Government. She is also too young to receive a pension. She has a daughter and a granddaughter, living a block away. Rachel has some skills in sewing and she decided to start her small own sewing business. Because of your support we were able to contribute financially with a gift to buy two second-hand sewing machines. They are not professional machines but are sufficient for her at this stage. In the future, after she masters the sewing techniques we are planning to help her buy a professional machine.

So thank you very much for your support in these two (and some others which we will mention in the next report) initiatives.

In the last quarter, we became members of Freedom Business Alliance, an international organization fighting against human traffic. Apparently, Bulgaria is number one in trafficked women from Europe, so we are hoping that our wisdom will help many Freedom businesses to grow financially and thus reduce this atrocious slavery.

Our next Start up Business training is at the end of April in South Bulgaria. After the training we are planning to travel North for a promotional trip as we received several inquiries about our work from that region. We maaay be expanding! How exciting!

Thank you once again and best regards!

Nellie, single mother, now with a laptop
Nellie, single mother, now with a laptop
Nov 23, 2016

22 Bulgarians trained in business start up skills

Dafinka with a burger and pizza kiosk
Dafinka with a burger and pizza kiosk

Dear friends and supporters,

I hope you have enjoyed a relaxing and cool summer with plenty of time for the family and loved ones.

The high summer temperatures in Bulgaria were not really motivating for the businesses but what a dramatic change happened on September 1st! The towns were suddenly transformed - traffic multiplied, new deals, increased sales and busy environment… And so it happened with our entrepreneurs. We had quite a busy month of November with a number of individual consultations. Our Bulgarian consultants did a wonderful job in identifying the real problems, the areas where the entrepreneurs needed encouragement and the specific actions that need to be taken from now on with each of them. The consultants provided extremely valuable input to each beneficiary and the comments that we heard were all very positive: "I have never heard that before!", "It was so motivating to hear this confirmation!", etc. etc. Almost all entrepreneurs were taking notes while they were consulted and in some occasions they even asked the consultants to pause and repeat so they can take notes.

Some of the most encouraging business situations are with:

Silvya with the healthy snacks kiosk re-opened on September 1st and is not making a profit that allows her to hire a person for 2 hours/day.

Vasil - car detailing workshop. His business now turned 3 years and is still going. He is able to provide for his family and they can pay all their bills. They admitted that when they started they had no idea how to run this business and it was due to our help and counseling that they made it so far.

Lilia, the hairdresser, was ready to launch her business, but she was surprised by the changes in prices – it turned out she needs almost a double start-up amount than what had planned in the beginning. She was not discouraged though and now we are launching her business in stages.

Daniel - biowaste business. Less than two years after opening his business Daniel now has 200 customers. He is working hard, approx. 10 hours/day, the business is now able to break even. He is still not making much profit, but he has a good network of customers that trust him.

I would also like to mention that ALL entrepreneurs confirmed that they do not have anybody else to consult with individually, neither on a business, nor on a personal development level. Individual mentorship and guidance is not popular in Bulgaria. If it does exist, it is quite expensive and provided by not trustworthy coaches. So for these young entrepreneurs, having someone speaking in their lives personally, was more than anyone has ever done for them.

Thank you very much for your support and prayers!

Yes, a reminder: The 2016 #Giving campaign will begin November 29th, 2016, at 00:00:01 EST and end at 23:59:59 EST on November 29th, 2016.Your donations will be matched at 50%.

Lilia will be doing the best hair style in town
Lilia will be doing the best hair style in town
The brave women with Daycare center, one is widow
The brave women with Daycare center, one is widow
Vasil with the car detailing workshop
Vasil with the car detailing workshop
Aug 26, 2016

22 Bulgarians Trained in Business Start up Skills

Dear friends and supporters,

With a summer with 40-42 C working is slightly more challenging. That applies for our students and business we consult as well. Most of them have closed down for the summer and will re-open Sept 15th at the beginning of the school year.

Lilia, the hairdresser from Sofia has put on hold her business because the locations she was hoping to rent, is no longer available. She started a full time job as a hair-dresser and meanwhile she is looking for another place to rent.

Our other promising barber – Raihan, is still working on his Market research.

After a short drama Harry and Merry decided to relocate their flower business to another facility in the same town. Now they are introducing more products as well trying to sell souvenirs.

We continue to offer continuing consultancy to those who are considering business or have launched businesses through our program. We think this “high-consultancy” model sets us apart from other micro-finance programs and is necessary to address the many issues and challenges faced by disadvantaged Bulgarians. Many struggle with their loan repayments and we work with them to find ways to get them back on track and increase the repayment rate.

Thank you for all your support, help and trust in our cause!


 
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