Georgi Bakoev, 2015-2016, World Link, West Des Moines, IA
“Step by Step”
I left the StartQube Social Entrepreneurship Workshop with a passion to make a positive difference in my home community through social entrepreneurship. During the workshop in Macedonia I learned how to brainstorm effectively, how to come up with an idea that can be implemented, how to structure a team, plan finances, control and manage a given budget, attract investors and volunteers and, finally, pitch entrepreneurship ideas to investors in a real-time challenge.
After I came back to my home country I started brainstorming. Inspired by my GYSD project – which was to help a children’s orphanage in Sofia, Bulgaria – I knew that I had to do something for another extremely neglected group of our society – the elderly people living in nursing houses, funded by the Government. The conditions they have to live in are poor and, in my opinion – unacceptable. That’s the reason why, with the support of my mother, I took on a challenge that was to expand my perspective and understanding of how important community projects are. We found a nursing home for patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia, nearby my neighborhood, had a conversation with the staff and finally both sides agreed that what really needed improvement was the so-called “Quiet Room” – a place where patients can have some time for themselves, which, given their condition, is of great importance. The idea was to raise money by organizing bake sales, give presentations and collect donations, in general.
Together with my family and friends, we took part in a couple of bake sales and sold hundreds of our homemade cookies, cakes and other pastries. At these events, people were curious about our cause and donated without even buying anything. We managed to collect slightly over $400.
The other part of our fundraising was giving presentations not only about the project, but also on social entrepreneurship and the YES program. At the end, with all the money that we raised and the free work of a construction agency, the room was renovated – top to bottom. The staff at the nursing home said that what we did was going to change many lives and although it may not seem as significant to us, to those people living there – it was one world of a difference.
I saw the impact of my project in the following words of a volunteer from our team: “The way I see it, what you are doing right now is just like climbing a hill – step by step. At the end, you will turn around and realize that the whole mountain has been “conquered.”