The activities of the Business Support Centre cover the following fields:
- provision of support and services to interested foreign businessmen, consultants and business groups;
- support of potential investors in identifying the right partner; Bulgarian legislation, taxes, accounting consultations and others;
- promotion of foreign companies production through the existing exhibition room, combined with media campaign in the region;
- identifying eligible loan receivers and developing Business Plans knowing the business environment and the companies in the region;
- identifying the right partners for establishing joint ventures and joint productions;
- possibility of buying machines and equipment via the BSC SME leasing company, BC Leasing LTD;
- readiness for joint activities under existing and newly developed programs and projects;
- consultations by highly qualified experts to entrepreneurs about all matters of their interest;
- organization of seminars, forums, conferences;
- organization of trainings;
- organization of other public events.
To ensure on time dissemination of correct information the Business Support Centre uses all available local media. The radio broadcasting stations dedicate a certain time of theirs weekly for information by the Business Support Centre. Local newspapers publish articles and interviews related to the activities and the events organized by the centre. The Regional TV Centre regularly broadcasts the activity of the Business Support Centre and some of the materials have been shown on the national broadcast and once on Euro News.
The Business Centre started operating as ISP by participating with 75 % shares in ELITS Ltd. in 1997. Then it instigated the incorporation of ELITSAT Shareholding company as Internet wholesale provider via the only full-duplex satellite connection with Loral-Orion until May 2002, and at moment with UUNet Vien for Northern Bulgaria, where BSC SME - Ruse still holds percent of the shares, using optic connection from Level3 Frankfurt. Currently the construction of a new optical and wireless communication in small towns in the region has been started.Enterprise Europe Network
– for the period 1999-2007 BSC SME has been the host organization of one of the 8 Euro Info Centers in Bulgaria, part of the official network of the European Commission in support of SMEs. From the beginning of 2008 the Euro Info Centres Network united with the other European network – the Innovation Relay Centres to form the largest information and consultancy network in support of SMEs in Europe – the Enterprise Europe Network. With the help of modern online technology the contact points connect among themselves and directly to DG Enterprise and Industry of the European Commission in Brussels, thus having access to up-to-date information on almost every topic of interest to the SMEs. The network comprises of more than 500 contact points with more than 4000 experts in about 40 countries. BSC SME is participating in the Sector Group “Tourism and Cultural Heritage” of the Network, encompassing members of 15 EU countries and in the Sector Group “Creative Industries” with participation of members from more than 10 EU countries.Services, Consultations and Trainings
- Possible support of potential investors in identifying the right partner;
- Consultations in Bulgarian legislation, taxes, accounting and others;
- Developing Business Plans;
- Identifying the right partners for establishing joint ventures and joint productions;
- Preparation of the necessary documentation for application in EU grant schemes or other international programmes, incl. the elaboration of the project proposals;
- Support in submission of the project proposals, checks on the proposal status during the assessment process;
- Support in the implementation and management of projects;
- Other EU and international grant programmes services;
- Services in the field of public-private partnerships;
- Cross-border cooperation – Business Support Centre has worked on CREDO Programme (the predecessor of PHARE CBC) as an Interim Secretariat and Contracting Organization of the cross-border region Bulgaria - Romania. It helped applicants develop their projects and was responsible for the monitoring of the implementation of 7 projects for cross-border development;
- PUM Senior Experts – BSC SME has been regional representative of this senior experts programme of the Dutch Government since its establishment. The Programme has provided Dutch senior consultants to interested companies in order to solve their specific problems and increase their competitiveness. It has been closed with the accession of Bulgaria to the EU;
- Business Incubators for support of start-ups – the first business incubator in Bulgaria has been established by the Business Support Center for SMEs in 1997 as a pilot project in conditions of hyperinflation. In 1998 BSC SME has started a Second Business Incubator funded by the Austrian Government. In spite of the hostile economic environment at that time, BSC SME has proved that the world practice of business incubation can be applied in Bulgaria. After its success the business incubation practice has been adopted as national policy by the Bulgarian Government to fight unemployment and foster entrepreneurship. BSC SME helped the establishment of incubators all over the country. BSC SME has also started a third business incubator and also a so-called “Virtual Incubator” – the companies use the start-up credit or the machine leasing system or both without using the premises. Two of the companies from the virtual incubator are high-tech. The Business Support Center supports the initiative of the Ruse University for Business Incubator JUNIOR, which is assisting prominent students in their preparation for the real business environment. BSC SME has transferred its know-how to the University Business Incubator in Giurgiu, Romania. The greater part of the tenants have never had their own business till the moment they entered into the incubators. From this point of view the Business Incubator is a great opportunity for the support of start-ups and contributes to their future development. In total 97% of the incubated business is production – high-tech, food, agriculture and industry. The remaining 3% are companies offering services.
- Machine Leasing – with the financial support of the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs BSC SME has implemented successfully the “Machine Leasing” project and founded BC Leasing Ruse Ltd. as a trading company, whose main activity and mission is to support the development of the Bulgarian industry by offering the opportunity for purchase on leasing of machines, technical equipment and vehicles.
- Guarantee Fund – In 2001 with the financial support of PLEDGE Program of the US Department of Labor has been established a regional Guarantee Fund as a pilot project. It is providing guarantees as collateral or co-guarantee for obtaining of bank loans, thus enhancing easier bank crediting for the small businesses.
- Small loans for environment friendly agriculture – Business Component of the World Bank Project “Wetlands Restoration and Pollution Reduction Project” – The project covers the territories of Natural Park “Persina” and “Kalimok/Brashlian” including Ruse Region and is financed by The World Bank. The BSC SME Ruse manages the business component of the project, which is financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Austrian Government and its aim is to support the sustainable development, creation of jobs, providing conditions for starting business and permanent employment through supporting the environment-friendly farming.
- Small credits line – BSC SME also offers small credits line to its clients in order to facilitate SMEs access to loans in order to develop their activities. The leasing company of BSC SME manages the line.
BSC SME possesses experience with foreign investors – German and Italian – in consultations about the general economic situation, legislation, tax regulations, accounting in Bulgaria, as well as registration of their companies in Bulgaria. The Business centre has a large Data Base about regional companies available and it also organizes matchmaking meetings between Bulgarian companies and foreign investors and cooperation partners, providing assistance in finding eligible Joint Venture partners. In one of the cases a consultant from the Business Support Centre has been chosen as a general representative and acted on behalf of the German owner, the company itself was registered in Ruse by the Business Centre. BSC SME provides assistance in specific foreign investors’ enquiries as well as in cases when the investor has a venture capital portfolio and is interested in finding eligible companies to invest in, registration of a company, personnel hiring, office services, etc.Competencies and Skills
Business Support Centre for SMEs is a member of BARDA (Bulgarian Association of Regional Development Agencies and Business Centres) from 1997 till 2010. The executive director of the Business Centre is member of regional and national workgroups and Steering and Planning Committees of government, regional authorities and NGOs for development of strategies for SME support and economic development, Structural and Pre-accession Funds. The Executive Director of BSC SME has been a chairman of the Board of Directors of BARDA since the end of 2003 until April 2009. BSC SME is the only regular Bulgarian member of the European Association of Development Agencies – EURADA.
Specialization – BSC SME staff has been trained by DG Enterprise and Industry of the European Commission as well as by Canadian and American experts in establishment and development of cluster structures, e-market services, EU Structural Funds and regional policy, development and implementation of EU projects, venture capital funds, export marketing, regional development management and facilitating economic transition, business and management, management of financial instruments.
The BSC SME and Euro Info Centre team s have developed the products PDA and WAP, which allow access via mobile phone to the BSC SME information system and its conferences. For these services the former EIC BG812 was honored as a good practice on the official internet site of the former EIC Network. The computer specialists of the BSC SME work closely with the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation of DG “Enterprise and Industry” on the Enterprise Europe Network database with offers of companies, institutes and organizations and support local companies in development of websites and e-services.
The purpose of all above mentioned actions and events is to match the partners' interests and help them actively in developing their contacts.