Between 2010 and 2016 a Summer Entrepreneurship Program (better known in Bulgaria as SEP) organized by the America for Bulgaria Foundation brought together around 200 young people with entrepreneurial aptitude. In six consecutive years, different groups were travelling for five weeks in the US to experience the entrepreneurial culture in Babson College and receive mentorship. The first alumni created the Association of Bulgarian Leaders and Entrepreneurs (ABLE) to stay in contact and with the time it grew and started its own projects. In 2017, however, SEP was stopped because it was hard to measure the impact it created, insiders explained back then.
This year ABLE has found a way to breathe again life into the pre-acceleration program and support young people to develop their leadership and entrepreneurial skills. The association has launched ABLE Activator – a six weeks training program for individuals between 20 and 35 who want to go through the experience of founding a company, but not necessarily have a concrete business idea on their mind. The online applications for the 30 spots are open till December 21.
“The initial goal of the program is to not only give practical skills and knowledge, but also provide the participants with resources and contacts to the startup ecosystem in Bulgaria and international innovative corporations”, Ivan Sharlandzhiev explained Trending Topics. This is the first time ABLE opens up for new members in its network.
During the six long weekends of the program, which starts February 15, participants will have the opportunity to develop skills that could not be gained through lectures and talks. The program is based on practical games and simulations on topics such as leading and working in a team, choosing a co-founder, coping with failure.
Among the trainers ABLE has invited to take part in Activator are well-known names from the Bulgarian startup ecosystem but also several interesting international guests. Momchil Vassilev, CEO of the entrepreneurs network Endeavor Bulgaria, Nikola Yanev, Marketing Director at the investment fund 11 Ventures, Miroslav Dzhokanov, Co-founder of the startup Shkolo, represent the local trainers team.
On the international side experts in the fields of gamification, design thinking, marketing and peer-to-peer education will join the program.
Bart Lamot, Director Innovations at ICT Group with a background in gamification and technical automation, is joining from the Netherlands to lead a design thinking workshop thanks to the invitation of Strypes Bulgaria. He will be leading the Design Thinking workshop and Alexander Kahn, the Managing Director at the Dublin based digital agency Timgu will train and help participants develop marketing skills.
A tech entrepreneur from the US will join the class to lead an ideation hackathon during one of the modules. His name is Salim Virani, and besides entrepreneur, he is also an educator, founder of Source Institute, which designs peer-to-peer education programs for fast-changing, multi-disciplinary topics.
After the six weeks of training participants will have the opportunity to join ABLE as members. The Activator program is again supported by America for Bulgaria Foundation, but this time other organizations like United Bulgarian Bank and Tech Tour joined as sponsors. Unlike the SEP program will be paid. The participation fee is €135 but scholarships are available.