In Bulgaria, social innovation is considered to be a new solution (to the organisation itself, to the sector, to the country and the world) to a social need or problem. This solution should be better than existing traditional approaches - i.e. it should be more effective, efficient and sustainable.
There are two main goals for social innovation in Bulgaria: to benefit people from vulnerable groups, and to contribute to fixing an important common challenge, such as the environment. For the Ministry of Economy, innovations are seen as an important part of competitiveness and the majority of the supported innovations promise more environmentally-friendly solutions. The Ministry of Labour and Social Policy is looking at social innovations as solutions to major social issues such as poverty, social exclusion and unemployment.
Social innovation is time and context specific. That means it can mean different things in different context. What might not seem innovative in one country, may be groundbreaking in another. The political and cultural background is important to understand. There are also a wide variety of organisations involved in this field, each have different perspectives. So, the purpose of this page is to demonstrate a variety of views on what social innovation means to different kinds of organisations in Bulgaria.
The voices from Bulgaria:
In 2015, Elitsa Barakova from the Bulgarian Charities Aid Foundation, provided an optimistic profile of Bulgaria’s social innovation. This contribution presents access to education as a field particularly benefitting from Bulgarian innovations, giving examples of ventures in this area:
"The award winning Ucha.se (I teach myself) counted over 12 million views of video lessons after its launch and has been praised for its simple and attractive language which is making studying attractive and easy. Ucha.se has been voted Number 1 Educational site and has won the Best start-up award. Its videos provide 12 million answers to the question-slogan ‘Who says students don’t want to study?!’
A really ambitious systemic change is sought by the Bulgarian Zaedno v Chas Foundation (member of Teach for All organisations) which strives to secure access to quality education for every child in Bulgaria, regardless of school, location or financial situation of parents. The Foundation works to prepare capable and ambitious young people to become inspiring teachers and leaders who go and work with children in difficult situations. The aim of the organisation is to bring a change by both rejuvenating the school system but also to create a growing group of alumni with a continuous appetite to transform education as we know it."
The report, which expands on the context of social innovation in Bulgaria and gives more examples of innovations, is available to read in full here.