|People in Bulgaria News Index
|Novinite.com Names World Skating Champs Bulgaria's Best Promoters
Sweeping more than a third of the votes cast in Novinite.com's annual poll, world ice skating champions Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski were elected Bulgaria's Best Promoters Abroad 2006.
It is for the first time in six years that the recognition will be shared by two winners - even though for Bulgaria and the world they are the best skating pair, united in love, life and work.
Since they won the World Championship gold and decided to continue with skating, Denkova and Staviski have thrilled audiences in Russia, France, Japan and Canada, reaping applauses wherever they go.
Next to Albena and Maxim, who are winners with 50% dominance, came Meglena Kuneva, Bulgaria's first EU commissioner, earning 30% of votes. A dozen votes less ranked the national volleyball team third in the poll.
Days after Bulgaria's accession to the European Union and the start of a watershed year for the country, you, our committed readers, had the opportunity to cast your vote for a list of nominees, who included high profile Bulgarians and foreigners from different fields.
Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski, Meglena Kuneva and the volleyball nationals were challenged by Chief Prosecutor Boris Velchev, Sofia Mayor Boyko Borissov, MEP Geoffrey van Orden, President Georgi Parvanov, Levski Sofia football club, Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev, and Italy's HIV/AIDS expert Vittorio Collizi.
Each of them spearheaded the most important processes that made Bulgaria's history in the past year - Bulgaria's accession to the European Union, its foreign and interior policy, the combat against organized crime, Bulgaria's debut in the UEFA tournament, the precious and hard won medals in world tournaments, the trial of the five Bulgarian nurses in Libya.
|Happy New 2007 Year!
Happy New 2007 Year!
The team of Sofia News Agency wishes you, our readers, all the best during the New 2007 Year!
We wish you health, love, peace, happiness and success.
The preview of 2007 is our perspective of the news that will make history in this watershed year, the year of Bulgaria's accession to the European Union. It promises to be a fascinating year!
The country's first steps as a fully-fledged member of the European bloc will be followed day by day in a broad coverage of the "Bulgaria in EU" section. Here you will find lots of background information, articles, commentaries and exclusive interviews.
Thank you for being our committed readers throughout the years and we hope you will stay with us in the future!
Sofia News Agency Editorial Staff
|Bulgarians Shrink by 40,000 a Year
Bulgarians Shrink by 40,000 a Year
Bulgaria's population declined by nearly 40,000 or 0.05 % over the last year, when it numbered 7, 679, 290, official data shows.
There is a gradual increase in the number of babies born over the last four years, but the large part of them - 70 out of every 100 - come from socially vulnerable groups.
The data was published as the government adopted measures for encouraging baby births, part of the action plan for implementing the national strategy for demographic development.
The measures include one-off social benefits at birth, monthly benefits for raising the child by its first year, as well as monthly injections for helping the child graduate secondary school.
|Linking travelers and Gypsy entrepreneurs
Linking travelers and Gypsy entrepreneurs
Views and Records
By Carol Pucci, Seattle Times
Another side of Bulgaria
SLIVEN, Bulgaria ï¿½" Meet Diana, a traveling sock saleswoman, and Silvia and Todor, a couple who make a living selling firewood.
These budding entrepreneurs are members of one of the biggest concentrations of Roma in Eastern Europe.
More commonly known as Gypsies, they are the people almost anyone here will tell travelers to avoid.
About a month or so ago, my husband and I did something most Bulgarians would also advise against ï¿½" We made Diana, Siliva and Todor small business loans.
Working through Kiva.org, a San Francisco non-profit that pairs people like us with those in developing countries in need of a banker, we loaned USD 25 to Diana and another USD 25 to Silvia and Todor. Along with money provided by 31 other Kiva lenders, including an author of children's' books in Oregon and a bus driver in Seattle, Diana raised USD 1,000. Silvia and Todor, with 21 investors, from Oslo, Norway to Miami Beach, raised USD 750.
When I found out Sliven was just a two-hour bus ride away from where we planned to be in Veliko Tarnovo, I asked Kiva about the possibility of visiting our new business partners.
They put me in touch with Greg Kelly, a 30-year-old U.S. Peace Corps volunteer who organized the loan program here with a non-profit business incubator organization called REDC, funded by Hungarian-American businessman George Saros.
Yesterday, we veered off the tourist path to meet our borrowers and see how business was going.
Dressed in capri pants and a pink t-shirt with "New York" stenciled across the front, Diana, 26, is a mother of two with dark eyes and shoulder-length black hair.
She and her husband, a meatpacker, have a modest brick-and-concrete house in the better of two Roma neighborhoods. The other, known as the ghetto, is literally across the railroad tracks, cut off from the markets, cafes and shops of mainstream Sliven by a wall on three sides.
Diana worked in a canning factory for a while, tried babysitting, then started her sock business five years ago.
Her business plan is simple: She buys socks for about 35 cents a pair, and travels in a chartered mini-van to markets four days a week where she sells the socks for 70 cents, undercutting the regular stores by half.
She nets around USD 150 a month, a decent amount here, but without collateral and co-signers, it's unlikely any bank would make her a loan.
With her Kiva money, she'll be able to expand her inventory of sock styles, buy a sign for her stall and an awning to protect her inventory when it rains.
Todor, 30, and Silvia, 25, ball caps shading them from the sun, proudly displayed the large ax they recently bought so they can split their firewood and attract customers with small stoves.
Many people cook and heat with wood here, and Todor and Silvia hope to use their money to buy a new truck double the size of their present one, and generate regular clients by providing home delivery services.
Diana, Silvia and Todor will repay their loans over the next year and a half. Neither Kiva nor the lenders like us collect any interest.
Unemployment among Buglarians in general is as high as it is everywhere in Eastern Europe. Private companies took over some formerly state-owned factories after Communism fell in 1989, but they employ far fewer people, and many lack the job skills to compete in the new market economy.
Unemployment among the Roma is even higher, and the prejudice against them is often openly expressed.
"Eat, drink, babies, go," is how one Bulgarian I met described his impression of the Gypsy lifestyle.
Lacking jobs and political clout, many get by on welfare. Some show up at train stations to beg with babies in their arms or teach their kids to steal.
Those are the ones tourists tend to encounter.
Many more ï¿½" Diana, Silvia, Todor and others we met during a walk though the ghetto with Greg Kelly ï¿½" are settled in towns like Sliven. They want to work, send their children to school and build a future.
I feel lucky to have had the chance to see this other side.
Kelly, who with REDC, has set up 35 Kiva loans in Sliven, mostly for Roma borrowers, says: "These are the seeds of entrepreneurship. It's just a beginning."