Petia Dimitrova: We support entrepreneurs in order to change the Bulgarian business environment together
Ms. Dimitrova, Postbank supports the growth programme for Bulgarian entrepreneurs of Endeavor Bulgaria. Would you describe it and what is your role in it as a partner?
This is a really unique project, which has not been implemented in Bulgaria before. It focuses on promising Bulgarian scale-up companies, which have passed their first phase of development and now need support to grow and create globally competitive products.
Literally in a few weeks, we are to start the trainings designed for entrepreneurs, which are part of our 3-month programme. For eight weeks, 10 selected companies will have the chance to meet with proven professionals who will give them well-structured, valuable advice based on practice and theory in the field of marketing, sales, finances and organizational development. We are implementing the Dare to Scale programme as a main partner of Endeavor’s entrepreneurship network in Bulgaria.
The programme is structured in such a way so that it provides scale-up companies with direct access to valuable practical knowledge, business experience, financing and networking. There are many companies with innovative business ideas, which need a trusted partner, strong support and additional resources in order to fully benefit from all existing opportunities and make their business profitable, sustainable and competitive in Bulgaria and on the global markets, to turn it into one that opens new jobs and creates added value. This is why, Postbank stands by them as their mentor, inspirer and financial partner. We believe in the power of this project because it is a serious investment in the [business] environment in Bulgaria, an innovation that reshapes the market.
How do mentors contribute to entrepreneurs’ progress?
First, they would avoid mistakes in the initial stages of their development after consulting with experienced specialists. Second, relying on the right mentors, entrepreneurs will have access to already working business solutions of established international companies, will be able to use our good practices and Endeavor’s big network of contacts, which will help them grow significantly faster and more sustainably. Our role as a bank is to be a trusted consultant and a partner, with which companies can discuss all details of their growth strategies and receive valuable feedback. We have gained considerable experience from the meetings we traditionally hold with representatives of companies from various Bulgarian regions. We know what they need and we offer them financing, including under EU programmes, we actively work in rural areas and provide flexible financial solutions customized to companies’ individual needs. Postbank knows what the business sector needs to succeed and we are positive that mentors’ role is among the key success factors.
What companies participate in the programme?
The Dare to Scale programme has clear and transparent rules – entrepreneurs from all economic spheres and regions can apply. They are only required to be based in Bulgaria, to have already launched a product or a service on the market, to have generated a turnover of at least BGN 200,000 for the past year, to have up to 150 employees and their business must have the potential to grow on a global level.
The entrepreneurs from 10 companies are selected by Endeavor’s mentors and experienced managers, as well as by experts from Postbank, ScaleFocus and the Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency. Entrepreneurs from 35 promising companies applied for the programme. The second phase of the selection comprised in-depth and personal interviews with the founders of the 24 applicant companies. The topics discussed included their growth strategy, business model and leadership potential. We wanted to see if they have not only growth potential, but also strong strife for success because we believe a company needs to have a good idea and strong motivation to achieve its ambitious goals. Only businesses with such goals can make it on the global market. We selected 10 of the companies we deemed really promising. Most of them operate in the IT and software sector but there also representatives of the retail, food industry and services sectors. We are glad we could see so bold ideas and aspiration for their realization. Bulgarian companies once again showed they have good ideas, which deserve our support, and they will receive it.
Why did Postbank join the project and how does it tie in the lender’s main activities?
We deem our participation in the programme highly important and a part of our mission and social responsibility policy. We want to give a chance for development to promising scale-up companies, to change the entire ecosystem for the better, to create added value for those companies. This is all part of Postbank’s corporate vision – targeted investments in the Bulgarian business environment and keeping to the strategy of the international group of Canadian and US companies as majority owners it is part of. We have over seven years of experience with a similar programme of Postbank’s parent bank, Eurobank, which is called egg – enter/grow/go and supports entrepreneurs running various businesses.
Over 400 companies participated in the programme, many of which progressed and some became really big thanks to the bank’s support. We believe we can contribute with our expertise, know-how and financing to the development of the companies in Bulgaria, as well. We have encouraged bold ideas in and outside the bank for years. For yet another year, Postbank is a partner of the Big Small contest which supports small and medium companies in the country. We have quite recently launched a long-term project jointly with SoftUni to help young people prepare better for the jobs of the future and a career in the country. This is why this project is a natural continuation of all of our activities in support of the companies and people with ideas in Bulgaria.
Petia Dimitrova is Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of the Management Board of Postbank. Since June 2019, she has served as CEO and Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Piraeus Bank Bulgaria, which will operate as a subsidiary until the finalization of the merger with Postbank.
Petia Dimitrova is a member of the Management Boards of Borica, Atanas Bourov Foundation, Endeavor Bulgaria Association and the International Banking Institute. She is also a member of the University Council of the American University in Bulgaria, of the Young Global Leaders Forum with the World Economic Forum, of the Young Presidents’ Organization, etc. She has won over 20 prestigious Bulgarian and international awards, including Mrs. Economy, an award by Atanas Bourov Foundation for banking and financial management, Banker of the Year award, etc. Under her management, Postbank has become one of the most awarded financial institutions in Bulgaria after winning in two consecutive years the Best Bank in Retail Banking in Bulgaria award in prestigious World Finance magazine.