The America for Bulgaria Foundation works in partnership with Bulgarians to support the country’s private sector and related democratic institutions.
America for Bulgaria Foundation started operations in Bulgaria in 2009, but our connection with Bulgaria dates back more than 25 years. In 1989, the US Congress passed the Support for East European Democracy (SEED) Act. Among its many goals was to promote democracy and the transition to free markets in former communist countries. One way to achieve that was through Enterprise Funds, private tax-exempt corporations funded with US taxpayers’ money through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and managed by a volunteer Board of Directors, which included US businessmen, entrepreneurs and investors.
The Bulgarian-American Enterprise Fund (BAEF) was established in 1991 with a capital base of $55 million. It was one of ten funds created to serve 17 countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. BAEF invested in the emerging free market economy of Bulgaria supporting entrepreneurial Bulgarians to create small and medium businesses. One of the Fund’s major investments was the Bulgarian-American Credit Bank (BACB) established in 1996, which quickly became one of the most successful banks in Bulgaria.
In 2007, with Bulgaria’s entry to the European Union, the BAEF had largely fulfilled its mission and began selling its investments. In 2008, BAEF sold BACB to Allied Irish Bank.
BAEF repaid half — $27.5 million — of its original grant to the US government and with the remaining funds, founded the America for Bulgaria Foundation (ABF). The proceeds, totaling more than $400 million, formed the ABF corpus which is now used to provide grants to NGO’s and charities.
With a return of over 800%, the BAEF was the most successful of all ten SEED funds created in the early 1990’s in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Since the money was made in Bulgaria, by Bulgarians and Americans working together, we thought it best it remained in Bulgaria –– to continue improving lives, communities, economies, people.
No. ABF is structured as a perpetual foundation. The endowment is invested by ABF’s Investment Committee in various financial instruments. We fund grants and other operating expenses with the income from our investments thus not spending down the endowment.
We allocate approximately $20 million per year.
The Foundation is governed by an independent 13-member Board of Directors comprised of ten Americans and three Bulgarians. ABF is managed by a professional staff working in its office in Sofia. In addition, the US Ambassador is a non-voting member of the Board serving as a US government liaison. We currently have eight emeriti directors who are non-voting members of the Board.
ABF has an office in Sofia, Bulgaria located on 6, Malyovitsa Street.
The ABF provides grants to organizations working in one or more of our four priority areas:
- Business, Entrepreneurship, and Technology
- Developing and Retaining Human Capital
- Business Enabling Environment
- Cultural Heritage and Nature Tourism
- Political or lobbying activity;
- Projects that exclusively serve religious purposes;
- The manufacture or sale of abortion equipment or the provision of abortion services;
- The manufacture or sale of munitions articles or services.
We accept unsolicited applications but also proactively approach organizations that are independently identified by our staff; initiate projects ourselves; or create new organizations.
Non-profit organizations, non-governmental organizations, universities, schools, libraries, community centers, theaters, operas, symphony orchestras, museums and galleries and others.
Most of our grants are awarded to non-profit organizations. On rare occasions, we will make grants to for-profit groups but the project must have a charitable purpose or serve a necessary purpose within ABF’s areas of interest.
The foundation does not make grants to individuals.
ABF NEVER charges an application fee. ABF does NOT have agents working on its behalf on a commission or any type of fee basis. If an applicant is asked to pay a fee by someone representing themselves as an ABF employee or representative, please contact [email protected].
There are no deadlines for submission; grant requests are accepted and considered on an ongoing basis throughout the year, with a few exceptions, which are explicitly announced.
America for Bulgarian Foundation works for the benefit of Bulgaria so the projects which we fund are primarily to Bulgarian organizations and take place all over the country. We promote the US – Bulgaria people-to-people contacts and exchange of ideas and resources, so certain project activities may take place in the United States and are administered by US organizations.
Applications are considered throughout the year. Please note, only if our review of the initial inquiry is favorable, the relevant program director will contact you to discuss your ideas in greater detail and help shape a full proposal. Normally, applicants may expect to receive an indication within one month if their proposals will be considered further.
Please note, all inquiries for grants in the Economically Disadvantaged area should be directed to the Trust for Social Achievement at: http://socialachievement.org/en/
Thank you for your understanding that due to the large volume of inquires that we receive, we are unable to respond to all applicants.
Since ABF has a small staff, we typically are unable to have meetings with all prospective grant applicants. To use our time and yours as effectively as possible, we’d like to receive your inquiry before scheduling a meeting or phone conversation about your project.
Our grant-making process presumes collaborative planning between ABF and its grantees. If your proposal is to be considered for a grant, you will be contacted by the Foundation staff and will be advised to fill in an Application and Budget Form. The approval process – which includes research, meetings, site visits, grant negotiations, legal review and presentation of the grant for approval – is generally completed within one month but can take longer.
When making grants, we look for effective organizations, original thinking and relevance of the proposal to our mission. We consider the repotation and the integrity of the organizations managing the project.
Our Foundation staff and management review on a weekly basis all incoming grant concepts from which we make initial decisions about which grant inquiries will be invited to develop a full proposal. If a full proposal is invited, our staff will review it and depending on the level of requested funding, will make a recommendation to the Executive Director, President or Board of Directors who make all final funding decisions.
We reject about 90% of all grant request. Unfortunately, we are not able to fund all good ideas that are presented to us. Please keep in mind that although your project may appear to fall within ABF’s guidelines, still may be rejected.
After a grant agreement is signed, we announce the projects on our website. We provide information on the organization, the project title, grant amount, grant term and a brief summary of the project.
Making a difference matters to us. Every effort is made to be certain the programs ABF supports have meaningful and measurable outcomes. Evaluation is one of ABF’s Principles and is key to knowing we are doing the right thing in the right way. We are committed to using evaluation to sharpen our objectives and improve our effectiveness.
We define our objectives before the program begins, determining the indicators and outcomes we expect for each grant. ABF closely monitors the project, working with our partners to collect data for analysis. Our largest investments are rigorously evaluated by either ABF’s Impact and Evaluation team or by external independent evaluators.
Our desire is to ensure the funds entrusted to ABF are put to the best possible use.
Yes, but we have no business or legal relationship to each other.
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