As entrepreneurs, we’re taught that to build a successful business you must first identify, address and solve a customer’s “pain point”.
What are Bulgaria’s most noticeable pain points?
1) Bulgaria’s #1 major “pain point” is a deteriorating educational system.
Who is motivated to fix it: educational institutions, governments? Who is best qualified to produce “well educated students”? Who should be most motivated to tackle this problem and fulfill the “market’s” demand for this human “product”? Answer: the nation’s employers (businesses, NGOs, and public organizations)
Bulgaria’s employers should provide the support and leadership so as to attract the resources necessary to address this “pain point”: a labor force who is qualified to teach these much needed students, a focus on the educational requirements of the future, not the past. With the eroding labor market that exists today and outdated curriculum being taught in Bulgaria’s schools, those of you who comprise the “market” for well-educated students – employers – must act now!
2) Second major “pain point”: a lack of adequate social services.
Bulgaria cannot rely on the government to take care of providing much needed Social Services. Bulgaria’s impoverished history has built a strong sense of shared responsibility among family members who won’t let the need for services affecting the elderly, the mental and physically disabled, nor the sick, go unmet.
Social entrepreneurship – through government outsourcing in some cases – must provide these services and those companies being outsourced must be provided the education, mentorship and funding necessary to grow an effective healthcare delivery ecosystem. The motivation to fix this problem must come through encouraging social impact investments in entrepreneurial businesses that seek to achieve measurable social benefits to society as well as profits for company shareholders. The more privately run social service organizations that can be developed to service the increasing demand, the more competition will improve the quality of these services, and the more government will be motivated to outsource what has been its failing to provide. As a result, government will hopefully use the money it saves by outsourcing to subsidize the costs of such services to the country’s needy citizenry.
3) Third major “pain point”: lack of sufficient entrepreneurship and innovation
Addressing this third major “pain point” is really the essential ingredient in the recipe to cure all three major pain points. If Bulgaria is ever to lift itself off the bottom of the EU in terms of economic productivity growth, it’s going to have to create more entrepreneurs who can develop cross-border businesses, create wealth, hire more people, and reinvest their profits into new businesses… all while staying here in Bulgaria, not moving someplace else. The “deal flow” of new startups able to attract funding has improved; but it must improve further. This requires developing a complete entrepreneurship ecosystem throughout Bulgaria, not just in Sofia, that provides experiential education, regional mentoring, networking among all stakeholders and adequate funding: from seed through Series A to worthy organizations.