You can now download from our website Part II of our report ‘Economic and investment profile of Sofia Municipality 2020’, with data on Sofia’s labor force and labor market.
The analysis shows that the employment rate in Sofia Municipality reaches 76.5% for the population between 15 and 64 years of age, against 70% on average for the country. However, against the background of declines in employment in the first three quarters of 2020, it is highly likely that these records will not improve in the near future.
The distribution of employees in Sofia generally follows the structure of output in non-financial enterprises. The exception here is the ICT sector, which makes 14% of the production, but only 10.5% of employment, reflecting its employees’ high added value. Trade also has the largest share in employment (19.8%), followed by the ICT sector (10.5%) and manufacturing (8.3%). In terms of dynamics, the sectors with the fastest-growing number of employees are expected to be ICT and outsourced, given the considerable accumulation of new investments in them. It is they, and mainly the ICT companies, which create some of the more stable jobs. In the course of the crisis, hotels, restaurants, and to a lesser extent, trade, transport, and construction were the sectors that began to lose jobs the fastest. In this sense, further profiling of the capital in high technology can only have a positive impact on the flexibility and resilience of the local labor market. Тhis, however, depends on the education system’s capacity to create and rapidly prepare well-trained staff.
Given the high productivity and added value of workers in Sofia, it is not surprising that the country’s highest salaries are distributed in the capital.
In 2019, the average gross salary in the municipality reached BGN 19 thousand per year, or 38% higher than the national average of BGN 13.8 thousand. The average growth in the capital surpasses that in Bulgaria as a whole – salaries in Sofia have doubled within the last decade.
– The share of the population in the most active ages in Sofia is significantly higher than that in the rest of the country, especially regarding 30-34 and 35-39-year-olds;
– The municipality is one of the few which opens new schools, and the number of students has grown in recent years – to up to 150,000 students in the 2019/20 school year;
– The unemployed in Sofia
Sofia Investment Agency was the official partner of the leading forum for skilled professionals Career Show 2020. On the second day of the event, CEO Maria Hristova joined the programme with a lecture on “Early career orientation and realization in innovative, modern, and progressive Sofia.”
“Sofia has been the champion on the labour market for the last five years – the capital is among the fastest recovering during the economic crisis and continues to create new employment even against the background of the slowdown in many parts of the country,” Maria Hristova said during her presentation. She added that part of the vision for the city is to create industrial business areas, as they lead to additional jobs and are valuable infrastructure in the long run.
More data about Sofia, shared with the participants in Career Show 2020
Over 43,000 students in Sofia are studying STEM disciplines (or the so-called “professions of the future”). Sixteen private academies offer IT training, courses are led by practitioners, and companies in the sector prepare the curriculum.
With the ambition to become a regional ICT center, Sofia is home to over 50,000 IT professionals. Every year the number of people employed in the ICT sector grows by 10-20%, and the average salary in the industry reached BGN 3,350 in March. There was a decline in the wage levels in the advent of the COVID-19 crisis. However, there has been a gradual recovery in remuneration for new candidates since the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2020.
Currently, the most active in demand are BPO and Shared Service center companies (including expert positions), manufacturing, and trading companies. The most preferred skills are those of programmers, followed by sales representatives and project managers. The district’s staff demand is most significant in Sofia, traditionally followed by other major cities – Plovdiv, Burgas, and Varna.
Despite the pandemic, more than 50% of companies invest in employees’ training and skills development, especially in the core that was detained during the pandemic.
It’s expected that technology companies’ business will continue to advance. According to the created or maintained product, most companies, with few exceptions, expect growth of their business within a year, and part of them have already achieved it.
The pandemic has helped the contactless economy and boosted e-commerce. Other growing sectors are pharmacy, finance, service centers with people with foreign languages, and fast-moving consumer goods. Logistics
You can download our new report ‘Map of Industries: Head Offices in Sofia by Regions’ from the Market Analyses and Business Insights page. The document contains a list and data about 116 companies operating in Sofia and their offices in the 24 districts of Sofia Municipality.
The report gives an idea of companies’ distribution – by type of industry and the size of the enterprise’s annual turnover and allows potential investors to follow the city’s development by regions.
Included are companies with an annual turnover of up to EUR 50 million (93 companies), up to EUR 100 million (11 companies), up to EUR 250 million (also 11 companies), and with over EUR 250 million annual turnovers.
The document is in English and is available for download here.
The new report, “Economic and Investment Profile of Sofia Municipality 2020: Macroeconomic Profile,” is available for download from our website. The data were prepared by the Institute for Market Economics at the Sofia Agency for Privatization and Investment request and provide an overview of the capital’s leading sectors, the investment profile, and indicators showing Sofia’s strong development in recent years of accelerated growth.
As the country’s leading regional economy, Sofia manages to advance significantly faster than the others and even to approach the average European values of some indicators, especially on the labor market. The rapid positive dynamics are especially visible in the fastest growing sectors – ICT and outsourcing, where there are new investments, significant production growth, and new jobs. In many ways, these are the years of Sofia’s most rapid economic development in the entire period since the beginning of the transition period in Bulgaria.
Sofia in numbers
The gross domestic product of Sofia district (capital) achieved a nominal growth of 8.7% in 2018 compared to 7.2% for the country. The capital’s economy accounts for approximately 40% of the country’s economy. The acceleration of growth in the capital is mostly due to the positive dynamics in services, which already occupy nearly 90% of the added value in Sofia.
The development of the digital sector, especially in the field of information technologies and services, is the main engine for the growth of the capital’s economy. The growth is largely driven by the constant influx of population, including young and active people, against the country’s declining population. In 2018, the gross domestic product per capita in the district of Sofia (capital) reached over BGN 33,000, which is more than twice the average for Bulgaria.
As with general economic activity, Sofia is the center of investment activity in the country. At the end of 2019, just over half of the total 25 billion euros of accumulated foreign direct investment (FDI) in Bulgaria were in the capital. Compared to the population, FDI in Sofia is 9.6 thousand euros per person or approximately three times the national average.
The impact of the crisis
At this stage, the question of how the economic crisis, which began in early 2020, will affect Sofia’s economy remains open. Nearly 18,000 jobs were lost in the capital during the state of emergency (March-May 2020). Against the background of over 700 thousand employees in Sofia in
Sofia Investment Agency signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Evergreen Talents 55+ platform.
Evergreen Talents 55+ supports the employment of older adults. The initiative aims to create a sustainable business model with a social cause, uniting job seekers, employers, partners, municipalities, and the state in a single ecosystem.
On behalf of Sofia Municipality, our team supports the initiative. In the context of the economic crisis caused by COVID-19, unemployment, the aging population in our country, Europe, and globally, such initiatives give this demographic group a chance to find a job and be an active participant in the labour market.
People over the age of 55 are a large and growing group with great potential. Their active involvement in the work processes benefits the business, municipalities, the state, and society. The workforce in this age group has strengths such as loyalty, emotional intelligence, appreciation of teamwork, the employer, and remuneration.
Evergreen Talents 55+ focuses on manufacturing and services and works for a change in the employers’ attitude towards people over 55. The organization will provide training for the candidates, help them find a suitable position, issue certificates for qualification, and find employers.
Funding opportunities for startups and better communication with institutions – these were the two main conclusions reached during the first edition of the “Business Weeks” initiative. The Sofia Investment Agency team is starting a series of hybrid meetings in the state of a pandemic to outline the main work topics and challenges for the companies operating in the territory of the Sofia Municipality.
The new Investment Analysis Department team, led by Maria Hristova, was presented at the first meeting with representatives from the Chambers of Commerce. The main topic of the discussion was the impact of Covid-19 on the business. The lack of communication is a significant problem in our work with institutions, Mila Kamenova from the Swedish Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce (SweCham) said. A similar standpoint was expressed by Germany Trade and Invest – Sofia, represented by Sonya Hristova, and by Dobra Slavkova from Advantage Austria.
Sofia Investment Agency presented a package of services through which the agency’s team can help potential investors and startup companies. These are providing up-to-date business analyzes, contacts, partners, and assistance in resolving administrative issues. Presented were also measures to stimulate women entrepreneurs and various funding opportunities for entrepreneurs.
The crisis caused by the spread of COVID-19 has exacerbated existing problems and highlighted the need for entirely new services and solutions. The consequences of the crisis will not pass quickly, but the crisis itself can turn into an opportunity for growth and new activities to ensure sustainability.
The pandemic revealed the high importance of digital assets and how networks, connectivity, data, and good digital skills support the economy and society. Digital technologies will play a key role in economic recovery.
Sofia Municipality is starting a pilot programme, The Crisis as an Opportunity, supporting civil society organizations, social enterprises, and micro-enterprises to more adaptive and sustainable activities and business.
“The Crisis as an Opportunity” covers two areas:
Deadline for electronic submission of projects: from October 23, 08:00 to November 16, 17:00.
You can find application guidelines HERE.
Prospective candidates who wish to participate in one of the online information days can register HERE.
Sofia Municipality and Plovdiv Municipality have taken the initiative to build a national union of the major industrial centers in Bulgaria, aiming to develop a unified strategy for establishing our country as an attractive investment destination. The idea behind the initiative is to increase foreign investment in the country and attract strategic investors through joint efforts, resource sharing, and a unified marketing strategy for our country.
The Sofia Investment Agency team, led by Maria Hristova, Head of the Investment Analysis Department, Stefan Stefanov, Deputy Mayor of Plovdiv in charge of Education and Business Development, and Engineer Emil Yankov, Business Development Manager from Thrakia Economic Zone held a meeting in Plovdiv in connection with the initiative. It was decided to invite the other major industrial centers to join, thus constituting a common national union.
Part of the initiative’s specific activities is the creation and development of each of the major cities’ investment profiles, to identify the strengths of local industries, the specifics of the workforce, the talent pool, and other economic indicators that are subject to investors’ interest.
The cities’ teams will also work on creating a national campaign, which aims to familiarize foreign investors with the opportunities to find the appropriate place for setting up their business in our country according to their specific needs. The ambition of the team of the Sofia Investment Agency and the Business Development Department in Plovdiv Municipality is to direct potential investors towards the most suitable locations for them in the country according to the sector in which they operate and the economic ecosystem of the respective region.
Maria Hristova stated Sofia’s readiness to join forces with experts in key areas from other cities. “Only joint efforts between the big cities can help Bulgaria sustain its pace of establishing itself as an increasingly attractive and recognizable destination for key international businesses. This leads to an increase in employees’ purchasing power and, respectively, to a higher quality of life, which is our primary goal. “
One of the planned initiatives for attracting investors is presenting Bulgaria to top employers in Europe and to describe the advantages of our country compared to other countries in the region.
According to Stefan Stefanov, Deputy Mayor of Plovdiv, the big cities together have a stronger potential to position Bulgaria among the leading investment destinations in the EU. “When we work on a request from a potential investor, we compete
The event is the best place to get to know the SEE market, learn market specifics, know the right people in each country if you want to expand, find prospective partners, and scout for clients!
A great crowd of PropTech expert speakers is on board. Event speakers come from 15 PropTech countries, namely, Belgium, the UK, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, South Korea, Bulgaria, Czechia, Slovakia, Romania, Singapore.
We are glad to announce that Invest Sofia will join the event as an institutional partner of one of the workshops to be held during the second day of the conference – Sustainnovation in the PropTech Sector with Peter Guendling, Belgium.
Book 4-5 November 2020 г. The event will be fully digital.
The importance of PropTech
Construction industry is the largest industry in the world as it contributes 13% of the global Gross Domestic Product. If we count in real estate and other sectors closely related to construction, its share in global GDP reaches up to 20%.
However, construction industry and existing buildings also have a significant share in another type of statistics, too. They contribute to
According to the World Bank the global real estate market is estimated to be USD 217 trillion, and 75% of it are residential buildings. The annual turnover of real estate transactions reaches immense volumes, e.g. in 2015 it reached up to USD 900 billion.
These trends will gain an enormous speed in the coming years. By 2050 Earth’s population will double, and 70% of people will leave in cities. A sizeable part of these problems’ solutions can be found in PropTech – the tech solutions for the construction industry and the real estate sector.
Bulgaria and the SEE region on the PropTech map
It is not by any chance that PropTech is one of the five tech sectors which attract most investment in Europe, as recorded by the European Tech Scaleup Report 2018. For a 10 years’ period, 2010 – 2020, г. 11 200 PropTech companies globally have received external funding amounting to USD 92.4 billion.
Bulgaria stands out with at least 106 PropTech solutions which PropTech
At the invitation of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), Invest Sofia, together with business representatives, investors, and partners, will participate in an international competition for innovative entrepreneurship, which will be held online on 8 October at 14.00. Innovative products with high market potential from Bulgaria, Turkey, and Lithuania will be presented.
We invite everyone interested in new international partnerships aimed at commercializing innovation to join the event.
The competition is in its third round after the previous selections, held in August and September. It’s organized by the BCCI in collaboration with partners from Lithuania and Turkey.
A total of 10 participants will present their ideas to the business communities of the three partner countries. Most of the projects that have been admitted to this stage of the competition are Bulgarian.
Project 1: Last-minute box – a platform for the utilization of unsold food at the end of the day from restaurants, hotels, and supermarkets.
Project 2: ISPEAK – an online platform that connects students who are learning a foreign language with a mentor who speaks the mother tongue; the goal is to give every child a chance to practice a foreign language in an authentic environment.
Project 3: Outdoor activities school – a platform for courses with outdoor activities to help people who are dealing with a stagnant lifestyle, depression, burnout, or are looking for new hobbies and experiences.
Project 4: “Atlas of Histological Specimens” – the product shows detailed 3D models of basic systems of the human body, surgical incisions, and images from an electron microscope at the cellular level through the use of augmented reality.
You will be able to see more about these and other projects at the event. To participate, please register on the following platform here.
The Municipal Councilor and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Sofia Municipal Privatization and Investment Agency, Mr. Nikolay Stoynev, took part in the panel “Zones with potential for development in the context of a compact city,” part of the programme of Urban Development Forum 2020 (UDF2020).
The panel discussed the future and the models for transforming the former industrial zones in Sofia, which with proper planning and a balanced mix of functions, would become modern multifunctional urban centers. As examples of good practices were recognized railway areas and abandoned industrial sites in large Western European cities such as Vienna, Eindhoven, Paris, Barcelona, which have already become successful examples of modern urban spaces built up with well-coordinated public and private sector efforts.
“Sofia Municipality is trying to partner with investors to build together a new quality of the urban environment. Investments by private investors in the social and public infrastructure increase real estate price and return on investment. We have all drawn our conclusions from the chaotic construction without the envisaged social and public infrastructure. Citizens want to have a kindergarten, school, green area, sports ground nearby, and travel comfortably to other parts of the city. Sofia Municipality is ready to be a partner of the construction of the next large terrains in Sofia, to contribute to the development of the transport infrastructure, the management of kindergartens and schools envisaged by the investors. The old and dilapidated research and production areas of Sofia have the potential to become new neighborhoods providing everything needed. This is feasible through a partnership of the municipality with the private sector, with public interests having the lead “, said Nikolay Stoynev in the discussion.
This year The City Media Group’s forum was held as a hybrid event on 2 October and was organized in partnership with the European Investment Bank. You can find highlights from the “Zones with development potential in the compact city context” panel and other topics from the forum on The City Media Group’s website.
At the invitation of the Association for Innovation, Business Excellence, Services and Technology (AIBEST), our team will attend the Annual Conference of the Association. This year, the event will be held on 2 October in Burgas.
The annual conference of AIBEST is the most significant event dedicated to the knowledge industry in Bulgaria. During the forum, the AIBEST will present its annual report on the development of the knowledge economy in the country with data on the high value-added business services sector, forecasts for the impact of the crisis, analysis of industry priorities, and more. There will also be a discussion of the factors and the necessary measures that must be taken at the local and national level to attract new investments and maintain a favorable business environment for the sector’s development.
The event will bring together representatives of the largest technology companies in Bulgaria, local authorities, and the government.
The conference will host the AIBEST Annual Award ceremony, which acknowledges companies, good practices in the sector, the proactivity of local authorities, and the contribution of participants from the ecosystem to industry development in our country. The seven award categories are: “Employer of the Year,” “IT (Outsourcing) Company of the Year” “Best Business Process Outsourcing Company,” “Innovation of the Year,” “Project of the Year,” “Most Socially Responsible Company” and “Best strategy for business sustainability in times of crisis.”
The access to the conference is free but requires pre-registration on the event website: aibest.org/annualsummit2020.