Republic of Bulgaria Council of Ministers


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Summary :

Bulgaria: a plan to develop the social economy in 2014

The Bulgarian government should adopt in early 2014 a plan for the development of the social economy, including measures related to awareness, education and research, as well as training for the stakeholders. For now, on the ground, NGOs have been encouraged to develop economic activities related to their projects. Municipalities are also often the initiators of social enterprises which then take the form of municipal enterprises.

Social enterprises, as defined by the European Commission, is the preferred form adopted for these ventures. Currently, forty social enterprises in Bulgaria have been identified in such areas as the environment (cleanliness, green spaces) , restoration (social or social integration), handicrafts (insertion) and social services. Municipalities, the only territorial level with budgetary autonomy besides the central government, are called upon to help support this development of economic activities with a social utility. Very commonly, social enterprises are non-profit organizations created as a result of a partnership between a municipality and an NGO, making them para-public organization. They are governed by the law on non-profit organizations passed in 2000 that grants them the opportunity to pursue an economic activity if it is a complementary activity, related to the objective of their main activity, that uses the revenues from the economic activity to further the objectives set by the organization and bans the redistribution of profits, in contrast to commercial entities.

The law also allows the granting of public funds when it comes to supporting the implementation of social services related to early childhood, health, education… “A mayor can assign the management of specialized institutions to a social enterprise as part of a procurement process” says Maria Ilcheva, a social economy consultant that has accompanied the creation of various social enterprises. Access to municipal premises free of charge, public procurement in general and support for the commercialisation of products and services are all levers available to local communities to support social enterprises. However, obstacles such as the absence of tax incentives and lack of visibility also exist and prevent these enterprises from receiving appropriate support.

A plan for the development of the social economy is expected in early 2014 and should support the work of municipalities in the field. In addition, a permanent working group on the social economy and social entrepreneurship should be created within the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, a sign of the importance accorded by the government to the social economy in Bulgaria.

To learn more:

Ministry of Labour and Social Policy

Teodora Todorova

Tel: +359 0 888 27 36 55, email:,


(Article of RELIESS January 20, 2014)