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25 June 2018

Looking for a new opportunity to unleash your ideas? Apply with a business plan in the NGO Entrepreneurship Program by July 15th.  


The sector has begun to talk more and more about social enterprises, and there is also good audibility in society as well. People are less inclined to donate just like that, especially for young people like ours. However, when they do something with their own hands, it is much more worthy and much better accepted by society ". From „The Lighthouse Workshop“/Concordia Bulgaria Foundation/, published in the Stories for NGO's on

 „The BCNL contest turned my attitude. Yes, one has to be generous and donate for causes like ours but I have realized that we as an organization have a lot to do to help ourselves so that we are not entirely dependent on donors. " From „Learn to believe“, a story about the "Embrace Me" Association, published in the Stories for NGOs on  

These are words of the participants in the program “Entrepreneurship for Non-Profit Organizations”. And what more real than this feedback can make one think about why the launch of mission-related economic activity makes sense and deserves the effort. And if this is not enough, here are some more arguments about the meaning of entrepreneurship among non-profit organizations.

Very often, when we talk about the NGO Entrepreneurship program, apart from stories of successful examples, we also mention the facts about decreasing NGO funding * - with the clear idea to motivate more non-governmental organizations to pay attention to this source of revenue that is still underestimated.  With its seven editions, the program has proven that when there is a good combination of the key ingredients for success in entrepreneurship - expert support, finance and mentoring - things are happening, people get inspired, and results are being achieved.

For the team of the Bulgarian Center for Not-for-Profit Law there is no doubt that the mission-related economic activity of NGOs is a chance for organizations to unleash their development potential - to reach new audiences with their causes, to attract own revenues for a longer-term perspective of existence, to achieve independence, resilience, and to assert their missions with self-esteem and self-confidence. Stories with a happy ending are a lot and you can read and hear about them more and more often. Currently, the program has trained more than 140 organizations and has invested in 20 of them to start their business ideas, which have earned them more than 400,000 leva revenus.


Our confidence that entrepreneurship is a good solution for NGOs to achieve their missions in a sustainable way is at the heart of the eighth edition of the program that is being launched now. By July 15, we expect brave and inspiring business ideas from non-governmental organizations that are willing to diversify their way of thinking and living. This year, the program is open for applications of active NGOs who have initiated or have partnered in the implementation of at least two initiatives or projects for the period of their existence and who have at least 5,000 leva in revenue from their activities for the past 2 years in total. We hope that these criteria will give chance also to newly created organizations that have ideas and are ready to develop them. The selection of the participants in the program will end at the end of August, as the leading criteria will be the connection between the presented business idea with the mission of the organization, its readiness to start the activity and the motivation for its future development.

In its essence, the program is designed to respond to the needs of the organizations for support in different aspects of their business endeavors. From expert support for improvement of the business plans they have prepared to increase of the skills for their public presentation; from the opportunity to receive financial support as an initial investment for a smooth start to mentoring by business experts to encourage them in their first steps.

And if at the end of this article there is still a reader who is skeptical about the need for economic activity by non-profit organizations, I would provoke him to be more unconventional in his thinking with the following question: What will you do if your organization:

  • It is not capable to rank in the front lines of the project finance competitions? Or, in order to get one, it should prove that it has free funds to secure its own co-funding to the project?
  • It is in a moment of financial crisis? Or - if the only donor who funded you had changed its priorities for support?
  • It fails to connect with a new audience and to attract supporters through its traditional but highly specialized nonprofit activity. Or - is it looking for ways to present its mission through products and activities that people would easily connect with?

Do not miss the chance now to apply for an NGO Entrepreneurship program. It opens up new opportunities - for knowledge, contacts, partnerships and funding.

*  State funding of the sector remains limited and operational programs are still difficult to access for newly created organizations and for those who do not have enough administrative or financial capacity to respond to the requirements that are not complied with the  peculiarities of the sector.  According to the NGO Sustainability Index 2016 - Bulgaria, prepared by BCNL in 2016, "the financial stability of NGOs is slightly decreasing as two of the foreign sources of financing - the European Economic Area (EEA) / the Norwegian Financial Mechanism and the Bulgarian-Swiss Program for cooperation - suspended the offering of new grants”. According to the Global Donor Index for 2016, the percentage of Bulgarians who donated funds for charity purposes declined from 27 percent in 2014 to 13 percent in 2015. These facts, ascertained by a number of studies on the development of the civil sector in Bulgaria over the last few years, clearly show that, in order to survive, non-governmental organizations must be innovative and flexible in attracting resources. And additional business activity is one of the possible ways.


The eight edition of the program is happening with the support of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and  in partnership with Telus International Europe and  UniCredit Bulbank.


Pictures of BCNL used in the material:

Photo 1: Candles from a workshop CONCORDIA

Photo 2: Products from a workshop EMBRACE ME

Photo 3: Participants in Lab4e from the latest edition of the Entrepreneurship Program for NGOs

Photo 4: "Market with a cause" for the employees of UniCredit Bulbank with the participation of the finalists in the competition in 2018.

Photo 5: products from a workshop "Art Sector" of ALOS Association / kindly provided by the association/