Varna and Dobrich hosted the International Youth Academy

The first week of the international training on “Youth Social Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation in the Citizen Sector” was held in Varna and Dobrich within the framework of the “Empowering Change makers: Youth Social Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation in the Citizen Sector” (Se-Hub) project. The forum was hosted by Varna University of Management and the International Management Institute, with the participation of youth organizations from the partnering institutions – Colima University (Mexico), Catholic University and Cultural Association of Parana (Brazil), National Youth Council (Namibia) and Society for Living Literature (South Africa). The initiative is supported by the Erasmus+ Programme and brings together the efforts of universities and non-governmental organizations from three continents.

Between October 28th and November 1st, participants had the opportunity to gain lots of new knowledge and discuss good practices with professional speakers, were involved in role-playing games, demonstrations and attractive presentations, but also met and exchanged experiences on exciting topics with experts, researchers and practitioners in the field of social entrepreneurship. A visit to the Youth Center-Varna was organized for the guests, where experts from the Education and Youth Activities Directorate presented the youth policies of Varna Municipality and the activities of the local authorities to support and encourage youth social projects and initiatives.

Extremely attractive for the participants was the demonstration on “Bread Therapy” and its  affirmation as a model of social impact, for creating trust and relationships of empathy, presented by the coordinator of the Bread House Network in Varna Mrs. Rositsa Prodanova, as well as the presentation on “Communicating Culture and Social Issues through Culinary Events” by the Programme Director and Head Chef Instructor of the Culinary Arts Institute Chef Hugues Boutin, together with the culinary demonstration of Chef Instructor Vasil Yakimov and the student Iskra Hristova Musa.

Interesting and useful for the guests were also the on-site visits to working social enterprises such as: the “Social Tea House” and the “Radost” Bakery in Varna, the “Wonderful Garden” in Dobrich and many others where they  got acquainted with the activities and met some of the entrepreneurs involved. The participants shared that they were extremely impressed with the good practices and social initiatives that are taking place in our country. They acknowledged that the main drivers for young people in starting a social enterprise are the good idea and the enthusiasm to contribute to the chosen cause or to solve social problems in the community. The practice in their countries, however, shows that, in the course of their implementation, there is a need for more knowledge and prior preparation in order for the social enterprise not only to start but also to continue to exist and be economically stable in order to contribute effectively on initiatives targeting disadvantaged groups.

Therefore, the SE-HUB project focuses on the creation and testing of precisely this type of programmes and training materials to support the more efficient functioning of social entrepreneurship and to the benefit of non-profit organizations and young people by helping them in the implementation of their initiatives.

In addition to the many new ideas and lessons learned during the week, the participants brought with them wonderful impressions from Bulgaria, new partnerships and friendships, as well as symbolic souvenirs – handmade by the employees of one of the Bulgarian social enterprises to remind them of their mission to support disadvantaged people.

This week, the training continues in Greece, hosted by the other European partner in the project – the Social Youth Development Civil Nonprofit Society, Kalamata.