What are you leading?
Currently I am leading a social enterprise named Blagichka - A Kitchen with a Cause, which is a zero waste NGO. Blagichka hires underprivileged youths and teaches them the essentials of professional event catering with a focus on producing as little waste as possible. In addition to professional cooking, they learn about nutritional knowledge and the development of professional and socio-emotional skills. So far, we have hired more than 10 youths and in March 2019, we are opening the first zero waste restaurant in Bulgaria.
Another passion in my life is Zero Waste Bulgaria, a non-profit organization that aims to spread the philosophy of zero waste life among Bulgarian society. We have organized and participated in more than 40 zero waste trainings, events and seminars, implemented a methodology, and trained employees from big companies such as HP, Dreamix, Axway, and Mentormate.
How did your experiences as a fellow inspire or prepare you for what you’re doing now?
Being a teacher in Teach For Bulgaria shaped me as the person I am now. I developed a strong leadership and self-awareness, skills that I use in my daily work and that are now part of my life. The network I created while being a teacher is now helping me to achieve the goals I set for myself and the two organizations I run.
If I didn’t have the emotional support of my students, I might have never opened Blagichka. It is inspiring for me to share how my students supported me during the whole process to set-up Blagichka. Not only did I start my own business during the program, but I also became more focused, more patient and grew up as a person who is responsible and reliable. I am very proud for being an alumna of Teach For Bulgaria.
Through Blagichka I want to show other employers that hiring underprivileged and disadvantaged youths is a working model. I want to break the stereotypes, and so far I have done it for the last 5 years, demonstrating that the development of the social enterprise has been very successful thanks to them.
The plan for the next two years is to hire 10 more youths, publish a small manual about the 12 most important lessons students have learnt during their time working at Blagichka, and continue with Zero Waste Bulgaria working closely with 10 more schools to implement the Zero Waste Bulgaria methodology.