Back in 2018, Fibank (First Investment Bank) launched its special Smart Lady program in support of and fund Bulgarian business women.
Smart Lady aims to:
- start-up female entrepreneurs;
- development of enterprises owned by women;
- existing businesses run by women.
The broad range of the program includes not only bank products at preferential terms but also a number of financial and non-financial solutions. Its purpose is to stimulate development while providing support and reliable funding.
Since its inception in 2018, the program has granted loans in the amount of almost BGN 130 million. They have helped more than 1,000 women pursue their goals and make their dreams come true. Targeted sectors include transport, finance, agriculture, education and even the traditionally “less feminine” industry and construction. Over the years, Smart Lady has conducted or contributed to a number of seminars, trainings, forums and mentoring programs for women entrepreneurs. Specially tailored, the programs enhance women’s capacity to manage and expand their businesses.
Smart Lady also conducts coaching meetings for program participants, where they can upgrade their skills or find business partners.
Sustainable Lady fund for Bulgarian business women
In 2021, Smart Lady created a special Sustainable Lady fund as part of the program. The special fund is in support of innovative green projects involving new or existing businesses run by women. These include startups with projects for smart solutions aimed at nature conservation, combating climate change and environmental pollution. Sustainable Lady funded twelve sustainable projects so far.
Anna-Maria Markova is a Sustainable Lady Fund grant-winner in the Startup Business category. She shared, “Aerospheric” is a project whose concept occurred to me at the women entrepreneur mentoring program in which I had the privilege to participate. In the project’s initial phase, a training and visitor center will be constructed in a former school building located about an hour’s drive from Sofia, on a property that we own. The center will serve as a destination for aviation enthusiasts of all ages. It will provide seminars, training sessions and participation in a variety of activities. The second phase of the project envisages a consulting business focused on aviation companies and airports in the Eastern Europe region. With this phase, the innovative approach of the project comes. This is the provision of services that are unique to Bulgaria. The services aim to reduce the carbon footprint of companies operating in the sector.
Applications are currently being accepted for participation in the 2024 National Mentoring Program for Women Entrepreneurs, implemented with the support of Smart Lady and Fibank. Candidates can find out more about the program, as well as submit their applications, at: https://mentorite.bg/.
Read more about funding equity and take action to reduce the gender gap.