How a business idea with a cause is born and what does it need to grow into a healthy and sustainable "organism" that lives its own life?
We decided to look for the possible answers through the experience and the story of one of the participants in „Lab4e - mentoring program for a successful start“, which began with the first training meeting on 21 and 22 March. Lab4e is the second stage of acceleration for the entrepreneurial ideas of civil society organizations that have gained the jury's trust in the Competition „Best Business Plan of NGO“ for 2019 - a part of our Program "Entrepreneurship for Non-Profit Organizations".
The idea of a board game with the working title "ECO Heroes" was born in the mind of Kostadin from WWF Bulgaria and started from his conviction that "in the future an NGO will not be able to support its activity only through projects and donations.". It will need sustainability. And in order to gain such, Kostadin thinks that it has to create and develop its own business product that, besides generating profits, also "talks" about the cause of the organization. The idea of a board game comes into his mind and he shares it with his colleague Apostol - a real fan and expert on the matter. He helps him to sketch the structure of the game, and then to build the whole mechanism of the project in a team, but that is not enough. The idea must be tested, the game must be played. Kostadin sends an e-mail to all his colleagues with an invitation to try the game and share their opinions and advices. Apart from inside the organization, the team also began to collect feedback from various external experts, for example - scientists from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
Along with the research and the development of the idea, WWF Bulgaria decided to apply in our program "Entrepreneurship for Non-Profit Organizations" 2018/2019 and thus to test its potential. And they are one of the winners - not only of the cash prize awarded to them by the jury in the Competition „Best Business Plan of NGO“, but also of the mentoring support in the accelerating part of Lab4e, which was launched in March. At the first two-day meeting valuable advices and experience were shared with the awarded organizations by: Stanislav Sirakov from LaunchHub - on how to define our business priorities and to communicate with our clients, Blazhka Dimitrova from „Blagichka – the Kitchen with a Cause“ - about the difficult start and how „to burn" for your idea, Georgi Breskovski from „Mikrofond“ AD – about the key factors that unlock success and sometimes failure, as well as the mentors who took part in the individual meetings with the participants through the so-called "speed mentoring“: Dimitar Terziev, Manager of Client Experience, Design and Initiatives in UniCredit Bulbank; Krum Alexiev, Director of Corporate Clients' Management at UniCredit Bulbank; Leona Aslanova, founder of Innovation Starter and Innovation Explorer, Monika Kovachka-Dimitrova, Senior Project Manager, CSR Coordinator and a member of the Leadership team of SAP Labs Bulgaria; Ralitsa Nikolova, editor in chief of The Information Portal of Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) in Bulgaria; Stanimir Dochev, Project Manager at SAP Labs Bulgaria.
After the meetings and conversations during Lab4e, Kostadin from WWF says that it is very useful for him „someone with a position and experience“ to "step into his shoes", to think about his business idea and its realization so far and to offer him a different point of view and thoughts on it. Kostadin gains valuable directions, including about contacts with the market and the distribution of the already-made prototype of the game – how it should reach the potential player. And not only to attract and entertain, but also to engage people. Because the purpose of the game is, through its plot and rules, to awaken interest in the use of sustainable resources in our lives. For which it gives an example -the game itself will be made of sustainable materials - recycled paper. „ECO Heroes“ should give information and new knowledge in a "sympathetic way", and everything that is generated as a profit will be used to protect the environment - initially in support of all the causes of the organization, and subsequently, when the game is being developed, the team plans to create every year the so-called expansures (additional parts) that will be thematic and related to a particular cause for which the proceeds of their sales will be invested.
We look forward to the "ECO Heroes" soon in our homes, as well as to the development of the business ideas of the other participants in the program. And we will continue to support the civic organizations that brings the power of change and undertake steps for their growth and towards sustainability of their causes.
The program "Entrepreneurship for Non-Profit Organizations" 2018/2019 happens with the support of the “America for Bulgaria” Foundation, in partnership with TELUS International Europe and UniCredit Bulbank.