EWSI publication 2015
A business incubator was established at the Bulgarian Red Cross in 2012, accessible to all vulnerable groups, including migrants and refugees. The project ran in 2012 and 2013 with the objective to support vulnerable people interested in starting their own enterprise. The project aimed to help them enter the labour market through independent income strategies. Furthermore, the project facilitated dialogue and raised awareness on vulnerable communities amongst the public, through the involvement of student volunteers and private partners. Pro bono staff conducted intensive workshops to train graduate volunteer students on how to advise and mentor beneficiaries willing to start their own business. Students and beneficiaries worked together to assess the proposed business ideas, to prepare professional documents and to conduct research for the start-ups. Consequently, the beneficiaries were to be able to register their business, to apply for state support and to receive microfinance support from a project partner. The project involved around 35 beneficiaries (30 migrants and 5 Roma), who were mainly men, 50 volunteer students (from Business Administration and Sociology), and 20 pro bono experts (business consultants, academics, etc). In the end, the project helped 5 beneficiaries out of the 35 to prepare business plans, budgets, market studies and other professional documents for their small start-ups. All these activities were conducted despite the fact that the project had no budget at all. All the people involved were volunteers: each of the 20 pro bono experts worked around between 1 and 2 days for the project, each of the 50 volunteer students worked 20 days, and 5 volunteers from the Red Cross worked 1 to 2 days each.