Train 20 Vulnerable Bulgarians in Entrepreneurship

by Cornerstone Foundation
Train 20 Vulnerable Bulgarians in Entrepreneurship
Train 20 Vulnerable Bulgarians in Entrepreneurship
Train 20 Vulnerable Bulgarians in Entrepreneurship
Train 20 Vulnerable Bulgarians in Entrepreneurship
Train 20 Vulnerable Bulgarians in Entrepreneurship
Train 20 Vulnerable Bulgarians in Entrepreneurship
Train 20 Vulnerable Bulgarians in Entrepreneurship
Train 20 Vulnerable Bulgarians in Entrepreneurship
Train 20 Vulnerable Bulgarians in Entrepreneurship
Train 20 Vulnerable Bulgarians in Entrepreneurship
Train 20 Vulnerable Bulgarians in Entrepreneurship
Train 20 Vulnerable Bulgarians in Entrepreneurship
Train 20 Vulnerable Bulgarians in Entrepreneurship
Train 20 Vulnerable Bulgarians in Entrepreneurship
Train 20 Vulnerable Bulgarians in Entrepreneurship
Train 20 Vulnerable Bulgarians in Entrepreneurship
Train 20 Vulnerable Bulgarians in Entrepreneurship
Train 20 Vulnerable Bulgarians in Entrepreneurship

A picture is worth a thousand words and so in this short update on our work we decided to show you something better than a picture - a video.

In the first link below you will see a short presentation which we created for the Bulgarian audience, but it gives an idea about the work we do in regards of Business trainings and the impact YOU are making.

Cornerstone Foundation - Presentation (Ela i Vizh) - YouTube

 

The second video was created after we completed our 10-week training on Financial Management in the town of Asenovgrad, South Bulgaria. We wrote about the training in our previous newletter and the video presents some of the feedback that we received from the students.

Biblical Financial Management - YouTube

 

We would be glad if you spend 10 minutes watching these videos and send us any questions, comments or feedback that you may have. 

We would also be glad if you continue supporting us for a couple of upcoming activites:

In September we will participate in a national conference for youth work related to our Carrier Development program.

We are promoting and participating in a couple of online business seminars, presented by European Business partners and trying to increase our online audience.  

We are planning our next Financial Management training and we are hoping to start a group in October/November period.

Due to COVID restrictions we weren't able to organize a Business training this fall, so we are looking forward to 2022.

Thank you for your support and thank you for the work you are facilitating in Bulgaria!

Links:

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Asenovgrad, Biblical Financial Management training
Asenovgrad, Biblical Financial Management training

Dear friends,

We are glad to announce that we just completed our first trainings in Biblical Financial Management. What does Financial Management have to do with business - you may ask. Well, you may recall that our organization provides not only Business Training but individual business consultations as well. During these consultations we would sit with a business owner and talk about ... their business of course :). We noticed that one of the most common problematic areas are business finances and so we started looking at the root cause for that. We discovered that the way a person manages their business finances is a reflection on how they handle their personal money. So we decided to make a step back and start training people how to manage their personal finances. In the beginning of March we launched our first life training on Biblical Financial Management. It was a 10-week course, 2 hours each week with homeworks in between. The format of the course is designed for a small group of 5 to 8 students, but what a surpise when we had 18 people turn up for the first class! We did not expect so many students, and we had to quickly think of a solution. And the decision was to split the students in two different groups, different days of the week. This was not the best solution for me, as I had to travel to the small town of Asenovgrad twice a week, but praise God at the the end of the training all our costs were covered. We had a variety of students - Different age - from 14 to 70 years of age. Different socio-economic background - we had a high-end medical specialist and a single mother with $7000 USD debt. The differences though did not stop the students from sharing personal financial information and contributing to the discussions. Each week they felt closer and closer and what a touching moment it was to see some tears when they realized 'It is finished!' Interestingly, the training finished during our Bulgarian Easter, when Jesus said on the Cross 'It is finished!' And I would like to add - because of YOUR support the Financial bondage that these students were under, is finished! In our next report we will quote some of the feedback forms, but the realization that being financially free does not necessarily mean having a lot of money, was a life-changing moment for these people. Thank you for allowing us to set them free and allowing them to say The financial yoke is finished!

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Don - owes us $5600 USD
Don - owes us $5600 USD

The Covid-19 crisis in Bulgaria has completely changed our perception of business - small, family, or medium. In addition to tourism and restaurants, thousands of small businesses are affected who do not know if they will open their doors. And the losses can't even be calculated at the moment. Nearly 80 percent of the companies in Bulgaria are suffering direct or indirect losses from the crisis caused by the coronavirus epidemic, with the worst consequences for micro and small companies. Just over 21% of companies say the crisis has not affected them much. A significant part of businesses have resorted to measures such as putting employees on paid or unpaid leave or reducing working hours. At the same time, the vast majority of companies in Bulgaria (87.7%) are optimistic that they will be able to emerge from the crisis and resume their activities, with catastrophic expectations prevailing in the fields of tourism, restaurants, small manufacturing and service companies, and of culture.

We, with your help, were able to add a little optimism to those of our beneficiaries who owe us money and are not able to pay their monthly installments due to the quarantine. You probably know that part of our services are to provide loans for small and medium size businesses. We then are able to cover some of our administrative expenses with the interest the beneficiaries are paying. Well, during the quarantine, our beneficiaries have not been able to pay us back any of their monthly loan payments and we have not received any income as an organization. So, unintentionally they deprived us from our income. In the midst of all this crisis, in August 2020 we received a donation which was to be used for distributing food parcels to families affected by the quarantine. And so we started. Thanks to the help of donors, we have been able to distribute food parcels to more than 40 families in the last few months.These families have owned a small or medium-sized business and they have been forced to close it down. When we were reviewing the list of families, we decided to help all our debtors who have not paid us for a while.

Some of you may think it is foolish to help people that owe us money, but we believe that since our mission is to help small businesses in Bulgaria we should not be stopped by lockdowns (or other obstacles), and we should seek alternative ways to show care and support for these families. The Bible says “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.” So, we decided to not respond in kind to these people, but instead, to feed them and show them that their debt to us cannot stop us from demonstrating love and practical aid. We wouldn’t be able to do that without your financial help, and we would like to THANK YOU for allowing us to express our care towards these families. We have included only a few pictures in this report, but you can be sure that there are many more touched by YOUR act of kindness in this difficult time.

THANK YOU once again and we wish you a wonderful and exciting New Year!

Ken - owes us $2300 USD
Ken - owes us $2300 USD
Tina - owes us $4000 USD
Tina - owes us $4000 USD
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Memory game
Memory game

The summer has finished in Bulgaria and we are expecting an exciting winter. With the pandemic closing down many small and medium size businesses, our on-site business consultations were reduced. We continued communicating with some of our entrepreneurs though and we focused on planning and preparation for our next activities.

One of our small summer projects was a summer school for the children from a small village in South Bulgaria, called Gornoslav.

We started working with the children, with the intention of teaching them entrepreneurial skills. And almost immediatelly they opened a shop, selling stones. Yes, stones, which the children had collected and artistically painted themselves. So they applied in practice their business knowledge. We started teaching other subjects as well - English language, biology, chemistry, craft work and brain games. And lo and behold - a month after we started, we were shown on one of the Bulgarian national TV stations. The news report was 10 minutes, but it was enough to make the children "TV stars"

Now, if you remember we decided not to charge forfeits to those of our beneficiaries who were unable topay their monthly loan installments. Our decision was extended to 6 months, so as an organization we did not have any income for the past 6 months. Thanks God, GlobalGiving platform opened a small grant of $1000USD to non-profit organizations, impacted by the quarantine. We applied and again, thanks God, we were granted this amount to help us cover part of our operational costs. So we would like to encourage you with a small word of wisdom - When we make the right choices and show mersy and love, unexpected things may happen!

English language lesson combined with craft work
English language lesson combined with craft work
Chemistry lesson
Chemistry lesson
Craft work
Craft work
Sports
Sports
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You may have already read many stories about the impact of COVID-19, but we would like to start this short update with a good news. We are so thankful to God that somehow COVID did not cause so many deaths in Bulgaria. It seems that our small country was spared and we have had a fairly low number of incidents. On the other hand, as in many other countries, small businesses in Bulgaria are also suffering under the impact of the Pandemic. Many of them have slowed down or completely stopped their work, which inevitably lead to huge financial losses.

Additionally, as of March 16th, all students have stopped classroom classes and have transitioned to online education. All businesses related to students and located around schools and universities have shut down. Here are some examples how the quarantine impacted some of the small businesses we are working with:

One of our beneficiaries, who is a beekeeper and recently started a business with saffron has experienced a lot of damage and literally bankrupted. Because of the quarantine all the markets (farmers' and online) are closed. His main export was to China, but nowadays he is not able to export anywhere. Many of his partners for exporting saffron products to China, Italy and Turkey gave no hope for the future.He is now considering applying for another job to support his family.

Another beneficiary shared that since they mainly work with imported vehicles from Italy, the crisis in their business was much longer, because when Italy started the quarantine, this immediately affected the business by stopping the flow of cars to Bulgaria, and unfortunately this continues till now.

Our beneficiary who opened an AirBnB in Sofia last year also shared that their business has stopped and all future reservations have been canceled.

What did we do?

As an organization predominantly working with small and medium-sized businesses, we took this opportunity to help them in this time of economic crisis. As usual, in trouble times people search for help in places where they have not looked up before and suddenly they realize they could receive a free advice from us. Our imagination and creativity started working more and we were thinking how to best help these entrepreneurs.  

We decided to not charge any forfeits for those of our beneficiaries who had to make monthly loan payments, but because of the quarantine they weren’t able to make such. We continued encouraging them and helping them with council mainly by phone and email instead of personal visits.

Unfortunately our plans to conduct trainings in March in North Bulgaria were mixed up. We had to cancel our fully organized and scheduled two trainings in the city of Varna and this cancelation cost us around 4100 USD (3755 EUR).

We are so grateful though that despite of everything we are continuing to work. In this time of crisis the small businesses need mentoring more than ever and your support can make the difference between these businesses shutting down, or keeping their doors opened for the future.THANK YOU that you are allowing us to help them when they most need support!

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Organization Information

Cornerstone Foundation

Location: Sofia - Bulgaria
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Maia Hristozova
Plovdiv, Plovdiv Bulgaria
$13,110 raised of $17,500 goal
 
90 donations
$4,390 to go
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