Bulgarian city life and business
Bulgarian attitude to the foreigners
Bulgarians are famous for their hospitability and friendness that attract the heart of all foreigners, who come to this beautiful east European country. Most of the local people speak foreign languages and they like to practice their language skills with the visitors. Foreigners they will be able to find a good company to learn more about the local culture, traditions and lifestyle. They will also be well accepted as business partners, as Bulgarians consider them trustworthy and experienced enough to entrust them their business future.
Bulgarians have no specific taboos, so they generally accept people from any nationality, ethnos or religion. There is a favorable racial attitude.
The number of immigrants that come to Bulgaria stays relatively low and does not affect the local business. The same way, immigrants have almost no impact on national culture, traditions and customs.
Bulgarian people are well educated. More than 80% have either a higher or secondary education. In the universities and colleges over 200,000 students are enrolled, a substantial part of which are studying various business related subjects.
Being a fundamental right to all Bulgarian citizens, education is mandatory to any child till age of 16. Bulgaria has high standards of education. Its system is made to develop skills in economy, foreign languages, computer and Internet skills, and more. Young specialists educated abroad enrich the academic staff. Many universities offer courses in English, thus opening the doors for foreign students.
Bulgarian Business Climate
In order to be a valuable business partner, the person who has decided to start business in Bulgaria, should learn more about the local culture. Since some typical for Bulgarians beliefs and attitudes influence business decision taking, people should know them in advance. Learning more about the rules that will make their business relations with Bulgarians successful is a big plus.
The business climate in Bulgaria is beneficial for foreign investments and in the past two decades more and more companies from abroad opt for the business opportunities that this little country offers. Here are some of the virtues highly valued by Bulgarian business people:
- Punctuality is a virtue that people not only value but expect. In case the business partner will come later to the meeting, he should call in advance to explain the reasons, otherwise other people will think of him as unreliable for business relations. Since the public transportation may delay, people should plan accurately their time to reach the meeting or social event on time. Bulgarians enjoy the company of their friends during the supper, so it is quite common for a dinner to last about two hours.
- Over the last several years, Bulgarian business started to apply the so-called corporate social responsibility that gives companies an opportunity to influence and contribute to the society. The polices and principles of the corporate social responsibility are applied to help companies be competitive, to build trust and transparency that attracts stakeholders. Bulgarian companies started to demonstrate commitment to social life through charity involvement and sponsorship, as well as through making a safer working environment and meeting the everyday problems of the employees. More than 40% of businesses take part in both social activities and charities, while the corporate social responsibility projects are widely promoted attracting more and more partners in face of media, the non-governmental sector, and bigger companies.
- Corporate gifts are also popular these days making about 20% of the market annually. Companies use the big Christian and national holidays, such as New Year, Mother’s Day, St. Valentine, Christmas, St. George ’s Day and more to give gifts and advertise their business. Although giving gifts is delicate due to the widespread corruption, people would prefer to give unique gift that is not necessarily expensive. It might be a modern clock, business calendar, promotional pen, notepad, organizer, and more including a fine wine, some luxury accessories, chocolate or wine-glasses. This could be a themed cake or other desserts too. The kind of the gift will depend on the social status of the people. The more the person is respected, the more personal gift he should get. Many company owners use some special personal occasions, like birthdays to give the employees flowers, vouchers, or even tours to encourage their work in the company. It is a custom to open the gift in the presence of the giver.
- Bulgarian business climate do not differs much from other European countries when it comes to business dress code. The clothing of the employees depends mainly on working environment and the kind of industry. No provocative or revealing clothing is accepted, although the requirements in some businesses are less strict compared to others. Suits are the typical business clothing for men, while women wear formal business attire that is stylish and conservative.
- Although there are many advantages that Bulgarian business and economy climate offers, there are also some disadvantages that should be considered by people who would like to become business partners to Bulgarian businessmen or would like to establish a business here. The problem of corruption and bribery is still unresolved in the country. The European Commission’s recommendations in this direction are to achieve more visible and effective results against corruption. Active measures should be taken by different public institutions. There should be a transparency in nominations for key government positions and an efficient legislative framework should be adopted. Bulgaria is in the unfavorable fourth place in the European Union when it comes to corruption at multiple levels. Bulgarians offer money, a favor or a gift when they deal with police officers, doctors or other institutions to get a better service. The good news in this regard is that the business corruption in the country is decreased, as companies do not pay money to government officials for undisclosed services any longer.
Finding some suitable and reliable business partners in Bulgaria and especially establishing long-term relationships with them may require some time, but the local people are opened to business relationships with foreigners that will be beneficial for both sides.