Measures implemented by BSMEPA in support of the internationalization of Bulgarian enterprises
The Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency (BSMEPA) is an administrative structure with the Minister of Economy, which implements the state policy for promoting entrepreneurship, development and internationalization of SMEs.
BSMEPA’s main goal in the field of internationalization is:
Providing support to Bulgarian enterprises for their stable development, successful integration into the European and world economy and expanding their presence on target markets.
BSMEPA is an institution responsible for conducting and implementing government policy in the field of export validation as a key factor for economic growth.
In order to implement an integrated package of innovative measures to assist exporters, stimulate investment in export-oriented activities and ultimately improve the country’s external financial position, BSMEPA has focused its efforts on developing a digital platform to provide broad opportunities for the Bulgarian enterprises to establish an interactive contact with their potential foreign partners. The efficiency of the platform depends entirely on the activity of the Bulgarian with the help of which it can be upgraded. It is an innovative and high-tech platform for supporting SMEs’ activities and development, both in Bulgaria and abroad. It has a unified centralized digital information log for the operating companies. This platform provides technology tools for providing more markets and bigger growth of the export. It includes categorization of Bulgarian small and medium enterprises by industry, size, produced goods and services, capacity, markets of realization, industrial certification. It will create profiles of Bulgarian SMEs and the existing and potential business partners.
The platform will keep up-to-date information about the participation conditions for Bulgarian companies in the European single market, access to foreign markets and requirements of the European legislation. Investors’ feedback on contracted and executed deals, references to the quality of executed contracts, real integrated and developed innovations and research will have very important role.
The goal is for SMEs to have a direct link to the Commercial and economic offices (CEO) around the world and direct access to the international business. In this way, communication will be optimized in a digital way between all parties. The actual transactions will measure the executive agency’s performance.
The platform provides the opportunity to bind and technologically develop the services provided by BSMEPA in support of Bulgarian enterprises:
- On one side – through developing the established regional network
BSMEPA has a regional network of representatives distributed in 6 major cities at present – Plovdiv, Stara Zagora, Burgas, Varna, Vratsa and Ruse. They realize connection with small and medium business in regions. The main goal is to create an actual map of well-performing SMEs in Bulgaria. Representatives visit companies in the regions and fill in data in a register of the existing companies – production, capacity, number of employees, activity, markets, export opportunities. The system has already registered over 1000 small and medium enterprises. When CEO requests information on operating companies with export potential in sectors, they receive actual data. The regional representatives of BSMEPA are the warm connection of the state with the business. They also do local trainings for companies.
In this regard, a decision of the Council of Ministers – Protocol № 33 of August 10, 2016, an addendum to the Action Plan „Entrepreneurship 2020 – Bulgaria“ has been approved with a new measure „National Network of Local Centers and Business Development Incubators“ to Area of Action № 2 „Creating a favorable environment for growth and enterprise development“ with a list of 31 specific measures in line with the European Commission’s Action Plan „Entrepreneurship 2020 – Entrepreneurship Revival in Europe“ (COM / 2012/0795 final). It is a demand of EU because of the criticism towards Bulgaria for not having a network to support entrepreneurship.
- On the other hand – with the services of organizing and financial support of the Bulgarian export sectors and exporters:
- National participations (collective, corporate and sectoral) at international exhibitions within the country and abroad – National participations took place at 17 international exhibitions abroad, with the participation of over 165 small and medium enterprises in Germany, Russian Federation, Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Spain, China, Dubai, Switzerland and France. As well as 6 international exhibitions in Bulgaria with the participation of more than 107 SMEs.
- Business delegations accompanying official visits abroad – In 2016, BSMEPA organized 6 business delegations in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Republic of Hungary, Japan, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Socialist Republic of Viet Nam and Republic of Latvia, where more than 150 Bulgarian companies participated with over 175 representatives. During each business delegation, bilateral business forums were also organized to help establish direct business contacts.
- This year for the first time will be launched organization of visits of foreign buyers in Bulgaria
- In addition, in 2016, 16 bilateral business forums and conferences within the country and abroad were organized, with representatives of business communities from Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Republic of Belarus, Republic of Uzbekistan, Mongolia, United Arab Emirates and others. Over 500 Bulgarian companies with over 1000 representatives took part.
- Provision of market and marketing information and consultancy services for the business at the moment BSMEPA maintains a National Export Portal and a Register of SMEs, with 352000 SMEs currently registered, and 228000 unique visitors; develops market analysis and researches on leading Bulgarian export sectors, responds daily to commercial inquiries and consultations for small and medium enterprises. For the past year, 156 informative articles have been prepared, in response to inquiries received from Bulgarian companies in regards to foreign trade activities implementation
All activities help the establishment of direct contact between Bulgarian enterprises and their potential foreign partners. The analysis of the results of these activities shows that depending on the specific instrument applied, between 70% and 90% of the participants sign at least one contract with a foreign partner.
- Thirdly – through an international network maintained and developed by BSMEPA, which includes more than 150 institutional contacts and over 90 bilateral signed Memoranda of understanding with foreign partner organizations.
In order to promote the research and development of enterprises, BSMEPA administers the overall activity under the National Innovation Fund (NIF). The Agency organizes and coordinates the participation of the Republic of Bulgaria in Eurostars – the joint program of the EUREKA initiative of the European Commission. The interest of Bulgarian enterprises in participation in NIF is growing annually, with a record of 191 projects submitted for the last 8th session. Through this Fund, the Agency supports the innovative and technological development of Bulgarian enterprises and contributes to their competitiveness on the foreign markets. In this sense, NIF is part of the integrated package of measures implemented by BSMEPA in support of the internationalization of the Bulgarian business.