Recommendations For Rural Development – Bulgaria

Recommendations For Rural Development – Bulgaria

Representatives of the different target groups surveyed (entrepreneurs, administration, NGO activists and citizens) recognize similar issues and challenges to the development of the territory (labour market crisis and labour motivation, low environmental culture, inadequate policies and institutional practices, lack of innovation and creativity of the business) and share a common intuition and vision for their solution: developing entrepreneurial culture, adapting institutional policies to the local context, investing in technological innovation and, above all, in human development.

The results of the survey give grounds to assert that the community on the territory of Razlog Municipality is in an advanced phase of transition from early modern to late modern economy and relations, whereby priorities are shifted from traditional investments in tangible assets to investment in human development and cultural change. Active community representatives are aware of the changes in the environment and are aware of the resulting need for changes in the culture of business, administration and civic organizations, but they still find it difficult to formulate a clear vision of change and to outline the ways and means to achieve it.

This stage of development implies carefully targeted interventions that take into account the capacity of the community to integrate and adapt to change. It follows that the activities of the Smart Entrepreneurship Center should appear as an informed and worrying response to the stated needs of the business rather than the usual set of standard services. In this sense, the future centre will be a pilot project for the territory.

The Smart Entrepreneurship Centre should be organized and targeted in such a way as to help prevent the migration of young families, young people with secondary and tertiary education, inactive, unemployed and already emigrated. The aim is to create prerequisites and new opportunities for personal and professional development of representatives from these target groups (family business, NGOs and citizens) on the territory of Razlog municipality through a complex of innovative, informational, communication, training, mediation and consulting services.

The Centre should function as a place for socio–economic exchange of information and ideas for development between arriving and departing (from Razlog to the World and vice versa), seeking and offering, successful and starting, between people who have made their choice and those of which is ahead of them. This will be greatly facilitated by the creation and functioning of a “dynamic” website to communicate with all stakeholders within and beyond the territory. This will create a form of social network that strengthens relationships and develops social capital with virtual columns, blogs, forums, webinars, video tutorials, lessons and presentations, online consulting and coaching and organizing events as follows:

  • Video presentations – good practices, successful people (managers and owners of business and non-profit organizations), returning emigrants (for reasons, difficulties and successes), business models, etc.;
  • Video seminars and webinars – TED type, on topical topics for exchange of ideas and know-how;
  • Video lessons – for students, students, workers and employers on topics related to economy, business, entrepreneurship, etc., as well as lessons for starting and developing family business;
  • Headings, blogs and forums – for sharing and exchange;
  • Online consultations and coaching – by well-established business professionals (especially family businesses), finance, planning, human resources, marketing, law, etc.;
  • Events – related to the environment, sport, culture, history and tourism of Razlog. The aim is to attract attention and promote the area as a good place for tourism and living. Here events of various educational and non–governmental institutions and organizations can be published, focusing on new methods, practices and trends in their development. This may be a kind of “anchor” for emigrants and potential emigrants.
  • Organization of specialized trainings and individual consultations for acquiring key competencies and leadership skills.

The Smart Entrepreneurship Centre should maintain contacts with all stakeholders and target groups by transferring knowledge, innovation and good practice to management. This can be done by creating a space (website) for links with schools, higher education institutions, business representatives, the non–governmental sector and local government. Thus, a virtual public–private partnership and a social network can be created in which the various forms of cooperation will contribute to the prevention of migration and the socio–economic development of Razlog. This way, the Centre will maintain a broad interface through all interactions with target groups that will generate knowledge about the deep processes in the socio–economic environment so that they can be analysed and returned as feedback from the community.

In this regard, the main objective of the Smart Entrepreneurship Centre can be to increase the competitiveness of the local economy by creating a new organizational culture and social capital. As a result, attitudes will change and companies’ investment in new technologies and human resources will increase. This will be largely supported by the fact that there is a successful centre on the territory of the municipality which has the necessary opportunities and the base to train entrepreneurs, employees and workers with the knowledge and skills to make quick, adequate solutions, to create new products and they handle high technology that will be deployed in local businesses. This will address one of the problems, namely the lack of highly skilled labour force. By creating a virtual space and easy access to the services of the centre, it will enable a wide range of people, incl. inactive youths and representatives of marginalized communities to engage in today’s digital world. On the other hand, the development of human resources in the field of organizational culture is the basis for an inspiring working atmosphere. This leads to an improvement in employee motivation and loyalty, and increases their creativity and competence.

At the same time, building an environment where stakeholders can create their own social capital is a guarantee for the functioning of a kind of “social bank”. Through it, each participant can import and draw ideas to develop or directly implement in practice in his or her company or team. All of this provides the opportunity to improve quality, create new products and services, and access new markets.

In this way, in the municipality we will have enterprises (existing and start-ups) with high competitiveness through human resources, built by a creative and loyal working team.

In view of the foregoing, the concept of setting up a Smart Entrepreneurship Centre should contain:

  • Objectives and tasks;
  • Description of the target groups;
  • Identified issues and needs;
  • Description of activities and services;
  • Organizational structure and management;
  • Promotion and communications;
  • Funding sources.