Discussing with the Trade and Economic Office in the Czech Republic a Potential Memorandum of Cooperation under the City-to-City Business Programme
Senior Executive Director Maria Hristova and Georgi Stoilov, trade representative for Bulgaria in the Czech Republic at the Trade and Economic Office in the Czech Republic with the Ministry of Economy, discussed the possibility of signing a Memorandum of Cooperation under the City-to-City programme – an initiative launched by Sofia Investment Agency in 2018. The City-to-City Agreements for cooperation focus on networking, knowledge-exchange and business support to companies that want to start operations in the partner cities.
The initiative aims to facilitate business cooperation, build trade and investment relations, as well as to provide incentives to support the business in establishing it in new cities.
For several years now, our team has been in partnership with the Trade and Economic Office in the Czech Republic to exchange good practices, assistance to Sofia-based companies in participating in major international fairs and exhibitions in the Czech Republic, as well as to provide entrepreneurs with latest data on the business environment in both countries. Georgi Stoilov also assisted us in publishing an overview of the opportunities for entering the market of the Czech Republic and the special features of the local business environment to help local companies seeking internationalization. Read the full article here
We express our gratitude to Mr. Stoilov for his commitment to assist us with a potential City-to-City Agreement on the market in the Czech Republic. Stay tuned for the latest news on the project.
If you are an investor or an entrepreneur interested in business opportunities in Sofia and Bulgaria or the Czech Republic, do not hesitate to contact our team for a free consultation on cooperation opportunities in both markets.
Sofia has the potential to drive economic growth and creates opportunities for job creation and innovation. We believe investment intentions after BREXIT can spark Sofia’s economic growing.
It’s our view that after Brexit, UK based businesses may find Sofia more attractive from an investment perspective if the Bulgaria’s business, regulatory and societal climates reflect their own aspirations.
Sofia investment agency will participate at fifth annual “BBBA Tax & Regulatory Update” webinar organized by British Bulgarian Business Association (BBBA).
The event will take place online on two consecutive days – January 25 – 26, 2021. It will give a short overview of business related regulatory changes from top experts.
Regulatory Changes in Bulgaria
Regulatory Changes Related to Brexit
We are thankful to the colleagues from BBBA for the great initiative.
Sofia investment agency took part at the ”Business science” webinar organized by British Bulgarian Business Association (BBBA) where the focus was turning challenges into opportunities.
Experienced professionals from Ironbridge Associates provided comprehensive explanation of the today’s challenges and the importance of Business Science and the fact that it uses analytic methods, processes, systems, education and machine learning to discover patterns, trends, and relationships in activities and data. How the Business Science identifies opportunities to enhance customer experience, identify new revenue opportunities, embrace innovation and improve business efficiency.
The professionals also described the importance of the process intelligence and the opportunities organizations to decrease the operational costs by combining hyper automation technologies with redesigned operational processes. The seriousness of data security, new technology and people skills were also thoroughly discussed and the latest aspects were highlighted.
We are thankful to the colleagues from BBBA for the great initiative. The SOAPI team was pleased to participate in the promotion of best practices in business in order to provide investors in Sofia with the latest and most appropriate solutions for their needs.
Download from our website the new report “Economic effects of COVID-19 and growth potential of Sofia”, developed by the Institute for Market Economics for Sofia Investment Agency.
The report examines the pandemic’s effects on the capital’s economy, taking into account the second partial lockdown in December 2020. The focus is on Sofia’s long-term potential and the sectors that continue to pull the capital’s economy forward or have the opportunity to return to the growth trajectory as soon as possible.
In the document, you will find data on the impact of the crisis on the labor market, tourism and air transport, construction, and others., as well as a forecast of the prospects for manufacturing, trade and repair, transportation, warehousing, real estate, culture and entertainment, accommodation, ICT and outsourcing sector.
Java2Days 2020 goes live again. Two months ago, the organizers decided to cancel the event. But after a pile of emails from the ecosystem asking for the conference, Innovation Center decided to transform Java2Days into a virtual networking event on December 21-23 – completely open and free for the Java community.
Sofia Investment Agency is glad to be a partner of the event. Chief Executive Officer Maria Hristova was invited to join the opening session of the conference.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is being felt across the world. There is no playbook, there is no instruction manual, but COVID-19 could have a lasting, positive impact on workplace culture. The COVID-19 lockdown means that developers and other technologists are finding more time to contribute to projects. As communities around the world come together in response to COVID-19, the developer community is playing an active and important role in relief efforts. We’ve seen an inspiring response from developers looking to build crisis response apps and sites to help keep their users and the public informed and healthy, Maria Hristova said in her welcome speech.
The upcoming discussions in the next 3 days include:
If you are interested to join the discussions, show your code, or deliver any talk – just let the organizers know. They don’t expect polished presentations or tailored content, but just speakers with passion!
Join the event! Free registration here.
Sofia Investment Agency has opened a Business Support Center for Completing Applications for Financial Support. Our goal is to support every entrepreneur from micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises in the COVID-19 situation.
A team of experts will provide information on the available programs for which SMEs can apply, their eligibility, and deadlines.
All services are completely free. Every day on our website, we publish the current open calls.
Consultations will be provided by e-mail, telephone, or on-site at our two contact points.
If you need information about current programs or assistance in filling out applications for financial support, send us an inquiry at the e-mail below or call us at the contact number provided.
If you want to visit our Center on-site, you can do so from 9.00 to 17.00 on weekdays. In order for us to be as useful to you as possible, so that you receive assistance quickly and without waiting, and with care for your health in the current situation, we recommend that you indicate by phone or e-mail the time and day when it will be convenient for you to visit us, and specify a preferred address.
phone number: +359 885 23 16 87
6 Petko R. Slaveykov Square, 1st floor
phone number: +359 885 23 16 87
12 General Gourko Street, 4th floor
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.