The Municipal Guarantee Fund for Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (MGFSME) is launching a new guarantee instrument in support of the small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in Sofia to limit the negative economic impact caused by the state of emergency because of COVID-19.
The Fund will issue guarantees on the loans of unaffiliated (self-employed) persons, micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), whose activity was affected by the epidemic situation, and who are experiencing a shortage of working funds.
The Fund’s guarantees will serve as collateral for the SMEs’ loans. The Fund will pay the bank the amount on the guarantee which the bank hasn’t been able to collect from the debtor.
The maximum amount within which the Fund will issue guarantees under this new financial instrument is 1 000 000 leva. It will cover up to 50% of the amount of the principle of each approved loan on this guarantee scheme, but not over 15 000 leva.
Requirements for Applicants:
– The enterprise should meet the criteria for “a small- or middle-sized enterprise” /SME/ under Article 3 of the SME Act
– The activity of the enterprise should be carried out on the territory of Sofia Municipality
– The activity of the enterprise should fall into the economic sectors that have been affected by the introduced emergency measures on a national and/or regional level
Guarantees are issued on bank loans, aimed at funding the payments for:
– employee remuneration
– social security contributions
– public liabilities
– running costs related to the enterprise’s activity (service provider payments, rents, etc)
The guarantees will be valid for up to 24 months from their date of issue. SMEs will not owe fees and commissions.
Sofia Municipality is about to select a Financial Intermediary on a competitive basis (a BNB-licensed commercial bank) who will manage an additional guarantee portfolio of 300 000 leva. The loan of one SME can be guaranteed by both the Sofia Municipal Guarantee Fund and the Financial Intermediary in the amount of up to 80% of the principal.
You can find more information (in Bulgarian) here.
In case you have questions or need a consultation, please contact the Municipal Guarantee Fund’s team: 02/980 9938, firstname.lastname@example.org
Together with the team of Innovative Sofia, we continue to work with six of the teams who participated in the #LetsHackTheCrisis hackathon. #LetsHackTheCrisis brought together business professionals, IT and Humanities experts with innovative ideas so that they could jointly build projects to help combat the spread and the effects of COVID-19 in Bulgaria.
Vladimir Danailov, Sofia’s Deputy Mayor for Digitalisation, Innovation and Economic Development, participated in the jury and looked for solutions that could benefit the city and whose further development we could support.
If you or your company would like to help these projects – either with expertise or with already developed solutions, please contact us, so that we could discuss the opportunities to support them together. All six projects are among the 15 finalists of the hackathon.
Description of the projects
We’ll make it together is a mobile application and a site for quick training and coaching of people who would like to participate in volunteer initiatives. The team sought assistance in validating different scenarios of action in particular situations through organisations and individuals that coordinate volunteers – municipalities, NGOs, and companies that promote volunteering in their corporate policies and regularly participate in campaigns as part of their corporate social responsibility activities.
Buy.Eat.Save. is a mobile app allowing restaurants or shops to offer food or products left at the end of the day (which they would otherwise have to throw away) at a lower price. Through the app, the users can find the restaurants and shops that are closest to their location.
HospitalGen is a monitoring platform for hospitals which collects and updates data on the available medical supplies, vacant and occupied beds, and the needs of each hospital. The platform aims to unite and bring the data on the various needs of the hospitals at a centralized platform and to allow the different stakeholders (nurses, doctors, warehouse staff, crisis staff, volunteers) to have individual roles in the platform according to their activities.
Book4Later is a portal, developed for the tourism and entertainment sectors. It uses a financial instrument whereby the user is given a buy/sell option which they claim now but use in the future. The full value of the requested option is paid only upon application.
Arya Delivery is an online catalog for local Bulgarian producers. It aims to help the smaller and niche businesses in
The Sofia Council approved the first package of measures in support of some of the most severely affected businesses by COVID-19. The measures include:
The establishment of a guarantee fund of 1 million leva which will allow banks to issue guarantees on loans to self-employed people and SMEs affected by the crisis.
– securing up to 50% of the principal sum of the loans up to 50 000 leva.
– Sofia Municipality will announce a competition for the election of a financial intermediary to provide additional guarantee loan coverage.
– the guarantee limit will be up to 300 000 leva – thus guarantees may reach 80%.
– street trading license fee of owners of business premises and restaurants that were closed due to the COVID-19 crisis.
– rent from traders, tenants of municipal property for the time their premises have been closed due to COVID-19.
Rent discounts for municipal tenants who have been working but are facing a decline in their turnover compared to the same period last year.
– 50% discount at a 50%+ drop
– 20% discount at a 20%-50% drop
(The measures apply to all tenants of municipal trade premises. They should show a proof of the decline in turnover – a declaration and accounting documents).
The measures that have been voted upon are in support of the family- and medium-sized businesses in Sofia and include additional instruments in support of artists, cultural institutions, and municipal polyclinics.
Our team is working on a pilot for the use of the European cloud infrastructure by the public administration and the pilot project for Sofia is already on the European Commission’s PolicyCLOUD program website.
With our participation in the project, Sofia Municipality will be able to perform simulations, tests and analysis of potential policies, using different categories of data – from existing sources (the Call Sofia call centre for citizens’ signals) and from new open data sets of the EU, which will be accessible to Sofia and the other 15 European cities in PolicyCLOUD.
The project features the development of a tool for analysis of large data sets and visualisation of different scenarios, which will allow assessment of policies and activities related to urban management case studies such as:
☑ road infrastructure, street lighting, road signs, parking
☑ waste management
☑ cleanliness of public spaces, ecology, green systems, playgrounds
☑ violations of public order and others
The analysis of the territorial distribution of the signals by category will enable the municipal administration to identify problems and trends in the urban environment. The analysis will also facilitate the monitoring and control of the services under review, enabling preventive action to identify potential risks and to guide decision makers to adjust the current policies or adopt new ones, as well as to use the budget and public resources effectively and efficiently.
More about Sofia’s participation in the EU Programme can be found here.
A description of Sofia’s project for PolicyCLOUD is available on the initiative’s website here.
Source: Innovative Sofia
The Financial Times included 12 Bulgarian companies in FT1000 – its report on Europe’s fastest growing companies in 2020. The report has been compiled in collaboration with Statista for a fourth consecutive year. Eight of the included Bulgarian companies are based in Sofia and operate in the sectors of technology and consulting services.
A total of 268 of the companies listed in the FT1000 2020 report were also featured in last year’s edition, and 90 companies have been included in all four editions. The profile of the companies this year reflects the ever growing importance of the technology sector and startups with innovative solutions. They are represented by 189 companies. With the addition of fintech and e-commerce to the group, the sector’s share increases to 259 companies, which makes for over 25% of all of the fastest growing companies in Europe.
Among them are eight companies based in Sofia – 7 in the technology sector (Xtream Codes, Mobile Wave Solutions, Botron Software Solutions, LEAD Consult, B EYE EOOD, Accedia) and one in the fintech sector (Qaiware). The remaining four Bulgarian companies in the list are from the agricultural sector (Trans and Trade 1, Varna), the energy sector (S&G Solar, Blagoevgrad), consultant services (Next Consult, Sofia), food and beverage (Bulchicken JSC, Sevlievo), and industrial goods (Smart Design 2006, Varna).
Most of the top-ranked companies are based in Germany, Italy, the UK and France, with these four nations accounting for about 70 per cent of the overall ranking. London retains its lead as the city with the greatest number of fast-growing companies, followed by Paris and Milan, while Warsaw and Vilnius make the top 10 for the first time.
We expect the situation in Sofia to continue to be dynamic in the following days and weeks. Sofia Municipality offers several digital solutions, related to COVID-19, which are available for you to use 24/7. They provide the latest information about the situation in the city from official sources as well as useful directions related to the coronavirus.
On the website of Sofia Municipality, you can communicate with the chatbot Skilly 24/7 by asking it open-ended questions or by choosing from the list of frequently asked questions. Articles, presentations, infographics and videos are also available. We would like to thank the team of the Sofia-based company Abilitics who supported the municipality free of charge with the implementation of the chatbot and assisted us in ‘teaching’ it specific information about the situation in Sofia. Skilly is AI-based and is continuously improving its ‘skills’ in order to answer even more questions. Read more in our publication here.
Over 32 000 citizens are already part of the official Viber community of Sofia Municipality about COVID-19. Join the community and invite your contacts to follow the latest news, information about current measures concerning the citizens and the business in Sofia https://vb.me/COVID-19_Sofia
The information in the information system of Sofia Municipality about COVID-19 is being continuously updated here: https://www.sofia.bg/covid-19
We would also like to remind you that:
You can use the site e-Sofia with quick links to the electronic services of Sofia Municipality – portals for citizens, online services, documents for download and directions on how to use the available e-services.
Citizens can send non-urgent signals, letters, complaints, requests for access to public information to the city administration by choosing the topic of their signal from the menu of the new free mobile app of call.sofia.bg – the contact centre for citizens’ alerts. You can download the app here:
For Android – https://t2m.io/fPo0T4L2
For iOS – https://t2m.io/EF5Lj6cb
You can monitor your current health status and share data with a health professional through the application Medrec:Sofia, which the Sofia-based IT company Sirma Group Holding developed and provided for free to Sofia Municipality in support of the mutual efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 on the territory of Sofia and the country. Read more about the app and find a download link here.
The citizens of Sofia can now use the new free mobile app of call.sofia.bg – the contact centre for citizens’ alerts and one of the largest platforms of Sofia Municipality.
The “Call Sofia – Sofia City Contact Centre” app is available to users of Android and iOS devices via Google Play and App Store.
You can access the app via a Google Account, a Facebook account or after a one-time registration. Citizens can send non-urgent signals to the city administration by choosing the topic of their signal from the app’s menu. Given the situation in the country, there is a special COVID-19 section for reporting violations of the anti-epidemic measures introduced for the territory of Sofia Municipality.
So far, Call Sofia is the only platform in Bulgaria created by a municipal administration, offering the citizens the opportunity to submit non-urgent reports, letters, complaints, applications for access to public information, proposals for the development of the municipality, and to receive information on the activities of the Municipal administration.
Sofia Municipality’s contact centre works 24/7. Users can also report irregularities by calling 0700 17 310.
After submitting a signal through the platform, each citizen receives an official registration number, which allows them to check the status of the report, and the answers provided by the municipal administration.
The platform is integrated with the administrative information system of the Municipality. The reports get directed to the structures responsible for the respective problem, including municipal enterprises and municipal commercial companies providing public services to Sofia’s citizens through line managers. They, in turn, exercise control over solving the reported problem.
For Android, download the app here.
For iOS – here.
Over the last two weeks, together with the team of Innovative Sofia and the direct participation of the Deputy Mayor for Digitalization, Vladimir Danailov, we organized online meetings with a number of industry associations in Sofia. We e-met with the Bulgarian Startup Association (BESCO), the Association for Innovation, Business Excellence, Services and Technology (AIBEST), the Bulgarian Association of Software Companies (BASSCOM), the Bulgarian Employers’ Association Innovative Technologies (BRAIT), the Health and Life Sciences Cluster and the AI Cluster Bulgaria, the Digital Health and Innovation Cluster Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Convention Bureau, the Association of Commercial Building Owners in Bulgaria and others.
We discussed the potential threats and opportunities for the local economy, the opportunities for business-to-city collaboration during and after COVID-19, as well as specific possible measures (at municipal and national level) to help rebuild the business ecosystem.
The meetings continue and we will prepare a summary analysis with proposals. Here are some of the visible threats and possible solutions that the business has shared so far.
TNW X marks that Sofia has turned into a major technology center in Europe by publishing a matrix with over 170 participants, which represent the tech startup environment in the capital.
TNW X, together with fDi Intelligence, is celebrating successful European startup ecosystems by mapping out their key players, analyzing where their greatest potential lies and ranking them to find out what makes them strong. During the last months, TNW X has published matrices for other key locations such as Riga, Vilnius, Dublin, and Munich.
With the publication of the matrix for Sofia, TNW X points out that in recent years the city has become a major tech hub in Europe with a highly skilled digital workforce. Furthermore, major software companies have their global R&D departments in Sofia and foreign investment in the Bulgarian software and ICT industry has tripled since 2015.
X is TNW’s digital transformation and innovation consultancy label, including online media (thenextweb.com), The Next Web technological festival in Amsterdam, a global database of startups, an international platform for cooperation between co-working spaces, and much more. The organization connects businesses, institutions, investors, and startups with a global mission to give impetus to digital transformation and innovations.
Sofia is a beautiful city that is growing and changing every day. A city that is developing as a startup, innovation and creative hub of Central and Eastern Europe with a constantly improving urban environment. Sofia is surrounded by mountains, full of parks, gardens and mineral springs and offers a great cultural and nightlife.
To help those who consider settling down and exploring business opportunities in Sofia, Innovative Sofia, the new ‘Digitalisation, Innovation and Economic Development’ department of Sofia Municipality, just published the first Sofia: Quality of Life guide. In this step-by-step guide, you will find everything you need to know before you move in: cost of living, study and work options, the weather in the city, leisure, culture and tourism opportunities, as well as how to find a home, how to register a bank account, how to travel across the city and explore Sofia as a local, and even a list of useful words and phrases.
Here are some reasons why living in Sofia sounds like a great idea.
Download Sofia: Quality of Life now!
About Innovative Sofia
The ‘Digitalisation, Innovation and Economic Development’ department of Sofia Municipality was established in 2020 to support Sofia’s development as a smart, digital, innovative, and tech city. The new Department will consolidate and guide all of the city’s digital and smart city projects and will continue to support high-tech and R&D investors in Sofia. It will focus on increasing the number and quality of municipal e-services, open data and smart city projects implementation.
The new single point of information issues related to COVID-19 is already active on Sofia Municipality’s website. The system has been developed with free of charge assistance of the Sofia office of SAP Bulgaria, a local affiliate of the international software leader SAP SE.
The platform is accessible through the COVID-19 page of Sofia Municipality at https://www.sofia.bg/covid-19 and provides citizens with concise, accurate and up-to-date information on key issues – what to do if we suspect we have been in contact with infected people, what to do if we belong to a senior age group or have reduced mobility, what to do if we have children, or if we have recently returned from abroad, etc.
The system is interactive, with easy navigation, and leads the user to their specific case of interest. The information on the platform is being constantly updated, so that it could provide the most up-to-date and useful information in one place, without the need for citizens to visit different sites of different institutions. Besides, the single point of information facilitates the gathering of feedback on citizens’ problems, what they are worried about and the kind of difficulties they are experiencing. There is an option for volunteers and donors to send information on how they think they can help.
The technology is provided on the initiative of SAP Bulgaria’s team in Sofia who contacted the new department of Sofia Municipality for Digitalization, Innovation and Economic Development (Innovative Sofia) to offer free implementation of the software application.
Since the start of the state of emergency, many technology companies in Sofia have been actively proposing ideas and ready-to-implement solutions to help the citizens and the city’s management in the state of crisis.
Sofia Mayor Mrs. Yordanka Fandakova and the teams of Innovative Sofia and Invest Sofia would like to express sincere gratitude to the startups and IT companies in Sofia for their proactive approach in providing solutions for the city.
Sofia Municipality launched an official Viber community for COVID-19. The community will share daily important information, news about the situation in the city and current measures affecting the citizens of the capital. All citizens can join the community and invite their contacts to join as well.
The official Viber community for #COVID-19 in Sofia was launched by the Sofia Municipality’s newly created Digitalization, innovation and economic development unit (Innovative Sofia) with the kind support of the Rakuten Viber team in the city, in order to offer easy and fast access to important information in the crisis situation.
You can join the group here: https://vb.me/COVID-19_Sofia
The Sofia Municipality will share daily:
✅ Tips on how to protect ourselves and others from the disease;
✅ News on measures taken to combat COVID-19;
✅ Information related to the introduction of new rules and administrative provisions affecting Sofia residents.
Since the onset of the state of emergency, a number of Sofia-based technology companies have been actively proposing ideas and ready-to-implement solutions to help citizens and the city’s authorities during the crisis.
Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova and the teams of Innovative Sofia and Invest Sofia are grateful to the startups and IT companies in Sofia for their willingness to help with solutions for the city.