Alumni Entrepreneurs Self-Organize Gathering in Bulgaria

After meeting in Kuala Lumpur in 2018, the Scaling Social Entrepreneurs community of network alumni came together for the second time in the Bulgarian seaside town of Varna in September 2019. At the event, 28 network alumni from Enseñá por Argentina, Teach For Australia, Teach For Austria, Teach For Bulgaria, Enseña Chile, Teach For India, Iespējamā Misija (Latvia), Teach For Lebanon, Teach For Malaysia, Enseña Perú, Teach For Thailand, Teach For America, and Teach First (UK) came together for four days to share their challenges and support each other as leaders of scaling social enterprises in their countries. 

The gathering was conceived of and organized by the community of alumni entrepreneurs, who formed sub-committees focused on specific aspects of the event. The selection committee designed an application process to invite 10 new network alumni to join the community. The supporter committee worked together with a local organization in Varna which supports CoSchool, a social enterprise founded by Teach First alumnus Henry May, a member of the community. The organization agreed to contribute $5000 towards the hotel, food, and local transportation costs if the event could be hosted in Varna, where their headquarters is located. In return for the funding, some of the alumni held training sessions for the organizations’ employees focused on multiple aspects of organizational development. The committee also secured a $10,000 grant from Teach For All’s Communities & Connections fund, which exists to support self-organized, cross-border, learning peer activities between network alumni.

Designed by the content committee, the activities for the event included short lightning talks, small group discussions, workshops, and reflection sessions. Group norms and ways of working, organized meals, sightseeing, and informal relationship building activities were led by the social committee.

“It was amazing to be together with people from all over the world, with so many different perspectives, who are all working on similar things with their social enterprises, but who are all doing it differently,” shared Teach For America alumna Porscha Williams, co-founder of Conscious Roots. Teach For Malaysia alumna Sue Yen Tay, a co-founder of MYReaders, was similarly inspired. “Meeting people who have gone through similar experiences makes me feel like I’m not alone,” she explained. “It’s been really inspiring and has given me more energy to continue doing the work.”

The Scaling Social Entrepreneurs community plans to host their third in-person gathering at the end of 2020 and will be inviting a small number of alumni entrepreneurs to join their community and attend the event. 

Watch this video produced by the Scaling Social Entrepreneurs community to learn more about the 2019 gathering, and look out for more information later this year about the 2020 event in future editions of Teach For All's CONNECT newsletter.

Learn about starting your own alumni community here.