The 1st conference "The future of Bulgaria through the eyes of the young generation", dedicated to the ideas and expectations of young people, was held last week in Sofia Tech Park

This event created by Dutch-Bulgarian Business Association was supported by dozens of sponsors, institutional partners and leading universities in the country. Prominent presenters, panelists, participants and supporters turned the event into an insightful discussion about young people's ideas for the future of Bulgaria!

With more than 300 participants, the conference was opened by Eduard Simelink, Chairman of the Dutch-Bulgarian Business Association. He presented the idea of ​​the event as a means of improving the image of Bulgaria before the world, giving the floor to brilliant young representatives of the new generation in Bulgaria, who will shape the image of our country in the nearest future. Greeting everyone with encouraging words and examples from history, His Excellency the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Bulgaria Simon van der Burgh addressed the participants and encouraged the holding of such events that give the young generation a voice and form in them responsibility, determination and motivation to work in and for Bulgaria. The ambassador pointed out that education, innovation and a favorable investment climate are important factors for creating excellent job opportunities and retaining talented young people in Bulgaria. Todor Mladenov, executive director of Sofia Tech Park and Vasil Todorov, general secretary of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry also offered congratulations.

The conference brought together in one forum industrial and business leaders, state administration, professionals in training and education, young specialists, graduates and students. In a dialogue with representatives of business and management, the floor was given to Bulgarian youth, graduates of Bulgarian and foreign universities, who chose to build their lives and careers in Bulgaria.

The panel discussions outlined several key takeaways:

When young people return to Bulgaria after completing their higher education abroad, it is a very conscious decision, because in Bulgaria a young professional with an excellent education, ambition and a clear plan can build the career he wants faster. The opportunities in the labor market are diverse, there is a hunger for qualified personnel in many developing businesses, new companies as well as in large corporations. A parallel was drawn with Bulgaria after the Liberation, when many young Bulgarians went to study abroad with the clear awareness that they would return to apply what they had learned in Bulgaria and develop business in their country.

It was pointed out that in universities in the Netherlands there is a very strong focus on specialization in a given niche, as well as on developing skills in time management and optimization of actions and communications. In this way, faster career growth is guaranteed when there is a clear direction and focus, while in Bulgaria the education system requires students to understand everything and study a wider range of topics.

When a person has experienced fighting alone abroad, working, studying, looking for housing, absorbing from the training, seeing various examples and then returning to Bulgaria, he sees much more clearly the jumps in the development of the country and can appreciate the specific positives in the environment that those who normally live only here do not see and therefore focus more on the negative.

 Young generation in Bulgaria much more easily ventures into trying to develop a business, they are not afraid to make mistakes, but at the same time they can be too conceited. The young entrepreneurs shared that it is important to learn to listen and take feedback as well as to be more patient.

It was emphasized how important it is to talk more about successful business and startup examples in Bulgaria, about how they change the environment. These examples should become available to a larger mass of people, in order to change the perception of Bulgaria internationally, and at the local level to positively influence the change in the mentality of Bulgarians.

Last but not least, the young people emphasized that they have a greater incentive to develop themselves in Bulgaria, because in this way they help their country to change in a better direction by applying what they have learned and experienced from abroad.

The participants in the expert panel Milena Stoicheva, Minister of Innovation and Growth; Jurien van der Horst, Deputy Head of Mission at the Netherlands Embassy in Bulgaria; Natanail Stefanov, member of the management board of Sofia Tech Park; Mihail Komitski, member of the board of directors of DSK bank and Yulian Balchev, chief secretary of the Investment Agency in Bulgaria shared their experience and gave advice to young people on how to build their life and professional path in Bulgaria! Jurien van der Horst pointed out that he sees huge opportunities in Bulgaria, which by stimulating investments offer excellent conditions for young people to contribute to the prosperity of Bulgaria. With 5,000 Bulgarian students in the Netherlands, their way back to Bulgaria outlines potential for development and growth of the economy.

Participants in the expert panel were Pavel Lisev, executive director of the Fund of Funds; Alexander Nutsov, strategic director of BESCO - the Bulgarian entrepreneurial association; Branimira Milusheva, founder and executive director of the association "Women in Banks and Finances"; Lyuboslav Dimitrov, partner in the Mentor the Young platform; Monika Balcheva, executive director of Launchee - a venue for events and live broadcasts; Eduard Simelink, Chairman of the Dutch-Bulgarian Business Association.

The young panelists in the conference were Petar Peychev - University of Groningen, NL; Erasmus University, NL; Valentin Getsov - University of Groningen, NL, Trinity College Dublin IRL; Ivan Merzhev - University of Maastricht, NL; Emil Mirchev: University of Amsterdam, NL; Filip Yordanov: University Bocconi, IT; Vasya Nikolova - Mentor the Young: Freedom of the 20s; Lachezar Vladimirov - AI business entrepreneur; Nia Gladicheva - New Bulgarian University, Political Science; Iliana Grudeva - digital marketing entrepreneur; Viktor Stoilov - founder of Markedemics

The event was held with the support of sponsors MUZE, DSK bank, Sutherland, Xpedite, Matti Events and fine food, Right Rental, Domaine Boyar, Launchee, ID Brew.

Partner organizations and media were Sofia Tech Park, BESCO, Fund of Funds, Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bulgarian Investment Agency, Mentor the Young, Association of Women in Banking and Finance, American-Bulgarian Business Association, Sofia University, University of National and World Economy, Sofia Technical University.

The event was closed with a cocktail and a live music program by the distinguished performers Arcangelo and Boris Lapshov, who rewarded the participants of the event and inspired them with their talent and charisma!

Stay tuned for more news and details about The Future of Bulgaria events, organized by the Dutch-Bulgarian Business Association!