In an area of few entrepreneurial opportunities SPI is creating a business using local cultural heritage to build futures and save pasts


    The Site   Samokov is millennia-old town famous for its archaeological and cultural heritage related to the iron ore and manufacturing. Positioned on important trade and military routes since antiquity, it also profits from a geographic location rich in mineral waters and rivers, surrounded by the highest mountains in Bulgaria. Twelve late Roman and Medieval fortresses guarded the important resources and trade routes. Unfortunately, many of the fortresses are very neglected, targeted by treasure hunters or simply unknown to the local population. Some of the fortresses, like Tzari Mali Grad, have been restored and are now attracting tourists, while others will be restored in the future.

The Site

Samokov is millennia-old town famous for its archaeological and cultural heritage related to the iron ore and manufacturing. Positioned on important trade and military routes since antiquity, it also profits from a geographic location rich in mineral waters and rivers, surrounded by the highest mountains in Bulgaria. Twelve late Roman and Medieval fortresses guarded the important resources and trade routes. Unfortunately, many of the fortresses are very neglected, targeted by treasure hunters or simply unknown to the local population. Some of the fortresses, like Tzari Mali Grad, have been restored and are now attracting tourists, while others will be restored in the future.

    The Community   Samokov was founded in the 14th Century and became a multicultural city in the late Ottoman period. Residents in the town have struggled to access the benefits of the changing of Bulgaria’s economy after the communist time. The local ski resort of Borovetz, the second largest in the country, is one of the few sources of employment in the area. The town suffers the economic problems of an aging population, high rates of unemployment of middle-aged women, labor migration to Greece and the capital Sofia, and low levels of entrepreneurship. Previous aid programs in the city have previous only produced short-term impacts.

The Community

Samokov was founded in the 14th Century and became a multicultural city in the late Ottoman period. Residents in the town have struggled to access the benefits of the changing of Bulgaria’s economy after the communist time. The local ski resort of Borovetz, the second largest in the country, is one of the few sources of employment in the area. The town suffers the economic problems of an aging population, high rates of unemployment of middle-aged women, labor migration to Greece and the capital Sofia, and low levels of entrepreneurship. Previous aid programs in the city have previous only produced short-term impacts.

    The Project   The project in Samokov aims to impact the local community by developing entrepreneurship based on local cultural heritage, creativity and economic growth. The project is helping local women become financially independent and contribute to the preservation of cultural heritage of their city and area. Assisted by the Samokov History Museum, and Vice-Minister of Culture of Tourism and the Mayor of Samakov, participants are creating a number of archaeological-related souvenirs for visitors under the brand ’12 Fortresses’. The participants are given thorough business training so they manage and grow their own business.

The Project

The project in Samokov aims to impact the local community by developing entrepreneurship based on local cultural heritage, creativity and economic growth. The project is helping local women become financially independent and contribute to the preservation of cultural heritage of their city and area. Assisted by the Samokov History Museum, and Vice-Minister of Culture of Tourism and the Mayor of Samakov, participants are creating a number of archaeological-related souvenirs for visitors under the brand ’12 Fortresses’. The participants are given thorough business training so they manage and grow their own business.


Achievements

  • Four local women are operating their business under the brand ‘12 Fortresses’, reflecting the rich cultural heritage of the area.

  • Souvenir magnets and tote bags are now on sale! Visit Samokov and Tzari Mali Grad and buy some!

  • SPI Bulgaria and 12 Fortresses continue to work with archaeologists, designers and local authorities to develop new products for the women to grow their business to locations nationwide and attract new members.

The Big thing we have learned

  • Our local partnerships are crucial for success!

The Future

  • The business is just beginning for SPI in Bulgaria. More products and more local sites are coming!