HISTORY

History of successful business support tools developed by BSC SME

Financial Services

  • 1997 – 2000: Business Incubators for support of start-ups – the first business incubator in Bulgaria has been established by the Business Support Center for SMEs in 1997 as a pilot project in conditions of hyperinflation. In spite of the hostile economic environment at that time, BSC SME has proved that the world practice of business incubation can be applied in Bulgaria. After its success, the business incubation practice has been adopted by the Bulgarian Government as a national policy to fight unemployment and foster entrepreneurship. BSC SME has helped the establishment of incubators all over the country. BSC SME has also started and developed a second and third business incubator along with a so-called “Virtual Incubator” – the companies use the start-up credit or the machine leasing system or both without using the premises. Two of the companies in the virtual incubator are high-tech. The Business Support Center supports the initiative of the Ruse University for a Business Incubator JUNIOR. It was assisting prominent students in their preparation for the real business environment. BSC SME has transferred its incubation know-how to the University Business Incubator in Giurgiu, Romania.
  • 1999 – 2009: Machine Leasing – with the financial support of the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs BSC SME has implemented successfully the “Machine Leasing” project and founded BC Leasing Ruse Ltd. as a trading company, whose main activity is conducting leasing transactions. The mission of the company is to support the development of Bulgarian industry by offering the opportunity for purchase of machines, technical equipment and vehicles on leasing.
  • 2001 – 2009: Guarantee Fund – In 2001 with the financial support of PLEDGE Program of the US Department of Labour a regional Guarantee Fund has been established as a pilot project. It provides guarantees as collateral or co-guarantee for obtaining of bank loans, thus enhancing easier bank crediting for the small businesses.
  • 2002 – 2009: Small loans for environment friendly agriculture – Business Component of the World Bank Project “Wetlands Restoration and Pollution Reduction Project”. The project covers the territories of Natural Park “Persina” and “Kalimok/Brashlian”, including Ruse Region, and is financed by The World Bank. The business component of the project is financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Austrian Government and its aim is to support the sustainable development, creation of jobs, providing conditions for business start-up and permanent employment through supporting environment-friendly farming.
  • 2002 – 2009: Small credits line – BSC SME offers a Small Credits Line to its clients in order to facilitate the access of small and medium enterprises to funds for the development of their activities. The leasing company of BSC SME manages the line.
  • 2006 – 2007: Approved Consultant for HVB Bank Bichoim and Hebros Bank for a period of one year: on 23 March 2006 BSC SME and HVB Bank Biochim Jsc have signed a Framework Agreement to create conditions for absorption of financial resources from the European Union and other international grant programmes.

Informational Services

  • 1999 – 2007: BSC SME has been the host organization of Euro Info Centre BG812, one of the 8 EICs in Bulgaria of the official EC network in support of businesses.
  • 2000 - 2022: FirstClass Information System - BSC SME has developed and supported SME Information System by use of a licensed FirstClass Intranet Server (FCIS) with 20 permanent and 20 remote users working simultaneously, for the needs of the Bulgarian Association of Regional Development Agencies and Business Centres (BARDA), the Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Bulgaria, as well as Ruse region. 19 permanent and 155 remote users are registered. The system contains a large amount of useful information to support SMEs.
  • 2004 – 2005: The team of the Business Center and the Euro Info Center have developed their PDA and WAP products, allowing access to the information system and conferences via mobile phone. For these services BSC SME is awarded by DG Enterprise of the European Commission a good practice award on the official Euro Info Centers network website. In 2004 the team of the Euro Info Center has developed an electronic guide "What we should and should not do when we doing business with Bulgarians", cited by DGEnterprise and other Euro Info Centers as one of the most useful and practical tools for internationalization of enterprises and trade promotion.
  • 1997 – 2018: Internet provider – the Business Center also works as an Internet provider with its participation since 1997 in ELITS Ltd. This is followed by the establishment of the joint stock company ELITSAT, a wholesale supplier for Northern Bulgaria through its satellite connection with Loral-Orion until May 2002, until 2004 with UUNet Vienna, and then with an optical connection via Level3 Frankfurt. Subsequently, the construction of optical and radio connections began in small settlements in the Ruse Region.

Services, consultations and trainings

  • Support of potential investors in identifying the right partner;
  • Consultations in Bulgarian legislation, taxes, accounting and others;
  • Developing Business Plans;
  • Identifying the right partners for establishing joint ventures and cooperative productions;
  • Establishment of social enterprises – support to disabled people;
  • Organizing seminars, trainings and public events on different topics – “Start Up Your Own Business”, “Improve Your Business”, organic farming, waste management, IT topics, regional development;
  • EU project writing and management consultations;
  • 1997 - 2000: Cross-border cooperation – Business Support Centre has worked on CREDO Programme (the predecessor of PHARE CBC) as an Interim Secretariat and Contracting Organization of the cross-border region Bulgaria - Romania. It helped applicants develop their projects and was responsible for monitoring the implementation of the approved 7 projects for cross-border cooperation.
  • 1996 – 2006: PUM Senior Experts – BSC SME has been a regional representative of this senior experts programme of the Dutch Government. The Programme provided Dutch senior consultants to interested companies in order to solve their specific problems and increase their competitiveness. The program ended its work in Bulgaria with the country's accession to the EU.
  • 2010 – 2017: SES – Senior Experten Service – since April 2010, BSC SME is the official representative of SES Programme for the regions Ruse, Razgrad, Silistra and Svishtov. SES supports small and medium enterprises by providing senior experts, who after finishing their active professional life, have joined the programme to grant SMEs their knowledge and experience for free.
  • Experience with foreign investors – BSC SME has experience with foreign investors – German, Italian and Swedish – providing consultations about the general economic situation, legislation, tax regulations, and accounting, as well as registration of their companies in Bulgaria. BSC SME provides assistance for specific foreign investors’ enquiries, as well as in cases when the investor has a venture capital portfolio and is interested to find eligible companies to invest it, registration of a joint company, recruitment of personnel, office services, etc.
  • 2003 – 2005: Cluster establishment – BSC SME team provides consultations and technical support for establishment of cluster structures. The creation of two clusters has been supported: the Cluster of Poultry Producers in the North Central Region of Bulgaria and the Industrial Cluster "Agricultural Equipment" in the North Central Region of Bulgaria.
  • Regional and national strategies for economic development – Business Support Center for SMEs is a member of BARDA (Bulgarian Association of Regional Development Agencies and Business Centers) since its foundation in 1996, as a co-founder, until April 2010. The Executive director of the Business Center has been a member of regional and national workgroups and Steering and Planning Committees of governmental and regional authorities and NGOs for the development of strategies for SME support and economic development, Structural and Pre-accession Funds, Smart Specialization Strategies. BSC SME has been the only regular Bulgarian member of the European Association of Development Agencies – EURADA and has received recognition by being entrusted the organisation of the 9th EURADA CEEC Congress in Ruse, Bulgaria, held on 9-10 September 2009.