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RCCI: Creating a culture of social innovation and entrepreneurship for youth in Bulgaria 

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Being part of EBN network has broadened our horizons and brought us closer to EU|BIC peers from all over Europe. As certified EU|BIC we are not only obtaining better recognition nationally and internationally, but also getting involved in exciting initiatives on topics that are quite novel for the Bulgarian market.  

Milen Dobrev, Executive director at RCCI

Social innovation and entrepreneurship are just one example. Thanks to the recommendations of the EU|BIC community and the EBN secretariat colleagues, the Ruse Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) – the regional body responsible for the Promotion of the economic development of the Bulgarian Ruse region – and its EU|BIC were able to share and transfer good practices on those topics. As a result of our common work, our organization was one of the first in the country to support social entrepreneurial ideas even though national legislation on the social economy was not in place in 2015.

With 6 partners from 4 countries, RCCI drew out and promotes the competencies that a European Expert in Social Innovation Incubation should possess as part of ESII project (2015 -2017).

As members of the EU|BIC community, we were among the first to support the creation of an European online ecosystem for social innovation, aiming to match social challenges with their solutions – SocialChallenges.eu. We built on that momentum and now we actively promote the concept of socially responsible business and continue to educate our society on the topic.

At RCCI we believe that the entrepreneurial mindset should be promoted at a very young age, and we took the challenge to transfer the know-how we previously built to the education system. We started involving students aged 12 to 15 in novel education programmes, focused on social entrepreneurship and its importance. We are happy to say that thanks to the involvement of real social entrepreneurs from several EU countries in the process we managed to raise young people’s awareness towards the important social issues and to empower them with the key knowledge and skills. We were deeply impressed by the presentation of children’s ideas within Better Incubation local pitching session in Ruse and are confident to say that among them there are going to be some future social entrepreneurs.

On a more personal level, I am thrilled to say that being part of an international community of practice, as part of the Better Incubation project, was extremely beneficial and further improved my expertise around social and youth entrepreneurship. What’s more, I was able to meet with many high-qualified professionals with whom I hope to continue working in the future.

Desislava Dimitrova, Expert EU programs and projects at RCCI

The EBN secretariat had the opportunity to visit its Bulgarian member in the framework of Better Incubation project. Our Certification and Impact Manager, Florian Sora met RCCI Executive Director Milen Dobrev, Desislava Dimitrova, Expert EU programs and projects as well as the overall team of the EU|BIC, Innobridge. 

RCCI is involved in the Better Incubation project, implemented by EBN with two partner pan European networks (Impact Hub and European Venture Philanthropy Association), focusing on building capacities and providing tools and methodologies for the mainstream business support organisations to adopt inclusive incubation practices. Together with other 9 EBN members, RCCI actively participates in the Communities of practice which serve as a platform for the incubators to learn and experiment with the new incubation approaches by reaching out to groups of entrepreneurs who are underrepresented or face greater barriers in business creation and self-employment. Under this initiative, RCCI has recently launched its pilot programme for young entrepreneurs and provides them with tailored business support services, including coaching and mentoring so they can feel more confident to seize new business opportunities and run their businesses ideas.

Ruse Chamber of Commerce and Industry is an NGO for the public benefit, providing a wide range of quality services to over 1000 member and non-member companies to help develop and expand their businesses, both at home and internationally. It proactively contributes to the economic development of the Ruse region, provides support and representation of the business and entrepreneurs on a regional and national level (also through the National Network of Chambers of Commerce and Industries and EBN). 

Its embedded EU|BIC INNOBRIDGEacts as a virtual incubator and offer services to entrepreneurs with innovative ideas, innovative start-ups and existing SMEs, as well as consultancy services in different fields related to the development of their innovative ideas and businesses. RCCI/BIC INNOBRIDGE successfully cooperate with universities, R&D centres, public and private organizations, and other stakeholders. 

Finally, RCCI has in-depth experience in offering various types of services to local businesses, for example, business partnership establishment, internationalisation, export documentation or certificates that serve to help companies further, both at home and transnational. 

What is an EU|BIC? Certified EU|BICs use business and innovation as a force for regional (economic, social, and sustainable) development with the best possible actions to create thriving startups and SMEs. EU|BICs meet the highest verified standards in business support services and take real steps to ensure that their services are best advantageous to their clients and support greater wellbeing in their regions. There are now more than 110 quality-certified EU|BICs and 30+ Associate Members in over 35 countries shaping the global EU|BIC community.

About EU|BIC Certification: EU|BIC Certification and brandmark is provided by EBN, being a highly selective status recognised by the European Commission. It is the only certification that stimulates business support organisations to continuously improve the quality of their service delivery to client companies. The Certification process uses credible, comprehensive, transparent and independent standards of business support and organisational impact performance.

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