In April and May of 2017, CEED Bulgaria conducted workshops on business development and corporate social responsibility (CSR) for 200+ SMEs in six cities across Bulgaria. The program was developed with the Swiss Institute (SIFE) and with support from the Bulgarian-Swiss Cooperation Program. The goal of the workshops was to raise awareness about the value of responsible businesses and share strategies about how to implement best operational practices.
CEED organized practical two-day workshops which were attended by entrepreneurs in the smaller cities of the country. The mentor/trainers used the Business Model Canvas to help each entrepreneur develop an individualized model for their business. The participants also walked through business cases and learned about innovative models globally.
A CEED survey conducted in December 2016 about CSR awareness among SMEs showed a lack of knowledge in understanding the impact of their business on the environment and society and a lack of adequate working rules and standards within each company. During the workshops, CEED provided all participants with a sample Code of Conduct, which includes ethics, discrimination, anticorruption and anti-bribery measures, health and care, as well as sample activities which demonstrate how the leadership of each company measures impact on the community.
After each training, the teams had three minutes to pitch their ideas for responsible businesses and the best were short-listed for participation in a CSR Demo Day on 28th of June in Sofia. During the competition more than 20 teams will have the chance to present in front of a jury of Swiss and Bulgarian experts, investors, and business angels. The top 5 ideas will be awarded a trip to Switzerland to meet with, exchange ideas and start potential partnerships with Swiss businesses.
“Companies face business challenges related to stagnation, difficulties in finding the right employees, and the right channels to their clients. Working on changing their business models would help in achieving better sustainability and growth”, says Nadya Tasheva, Manager of the Project. “We believe that consciousness about the importance of CSR and the value that such responsibility brings to a company’s reputation, attractiveness as an employer, and its direct benefit in terms of cost savings, has increased after the training workshops.”
In September 2017 CEED Bulgaria will organize a CSR conference in Sofia. The event will aim to provide a platform for companies and organizations to exchange innovative ideas for responsible business while gaining the knowledge and contacts needed to enhance the sustainability and competitiveness of the Bulgarian SMEs globally.