Youth Zone – Orphanage in Bulgaria Becomes First Social Impact Lab

It can be a shock for someone to enter the closed down orphanage „Rada Kirkovic“ in Plovdiv. The rooms left the impression of the children that lived in them. The NGO “Alliance for Volunteer Action” wants to transform part of the building after the design of Ashoka fellow Norbert Kunz to a creativity centre for young social entrepreneurs – the first Social Impact Lab in Bulgaria. 35.000 Euro is needed for furnishing and reconstructing the project.

More than a 100 children and adolescents recently lived in the rundown and poorly equipped rooms of the orphanage “Rada Kirkovic” in Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second biggest city. The orphanage was closed in response to new reforms regarding orphanages that relocated children to family friendly communities and host families. Since then, the city has been looking for a new owner to use the premises.

The idea to convert the building into a center for social services has become very popular among the local Bulgarian community. Several NGOs have already applied to use the rooms, but only future-oriented and sustainable ideas get rewarded.

The “National Alliance for Volunteer Action” is one of the most active NGOs in the country. The organization has been involved in the founding of social enterprises and is committing to promote a democratic civil society among youth.

The Social Impact Lab is a true breeding ground for new social enterprise ideas. Just like an incubator, it intends to help young social enterprise founders to make their first steps for an independent life. This development is strengthened with advice from experts, training programs in management leadership through a network of social investors, public relations consultants and professional accountants. A research laboratory shall be created within the walls of the rundown orphanage in Plovdiv to create future concepts in order to solve social problems in Bulgarian communities.