Eco Camp 2014 Momchilovtsi!

Yesterday, October the 7th, Junior Achievement Bulgaria held an Innovation Camp and presentations with the participation of students from Bulgaria and Norway in front of a jury in the Norwegianhouse in Momchilovtsi village, Rhodope mountain. The challenge for the participants in the Eco camp was to develop environmental business ideas that have the potential to inspire the ordinary people around the world in their communities to take specific actions to reduce the pressure on the environment of the planet. The participants had to prepare a presentation to explain their idea and for this purpose they had the opportunity to benefit from the aid and the advice of business consultants and mentors from Junior Achievement Bulgaria, who have experience in green business and entrepreneurship.

The jury that evaluated the teams’ ideas consisted of:

Iliyana Lazarova - professional in the field of renewable energy and sustainable development and project and communications manager of the innovative platform
Apostol Dyankov - environmental consultant and expert on sustainable development 
Aglika Yordanova - young ecologist and advocate of sustainable development, project manager and author of articles on

The jury rated the participants according to several criteria, most attention was paid to whether the idea is likely to be realized and if they have realistic financial plans and distribution channels and marketing. Other criteria were commitment to the topic, degree of innovation, scale of the project, presentation and structuring of the business idea, presentation skills of the participants and adequate answers to the jury questions.

During the competition, the students were divided into mixed teams with three participants from Bulgaria and two from Norway. They had to quickly find a solution to the challenge.

First with 266 points from 300 possible were the Bee Keeper team, who proposed the concept of an online platform oriented to motivate ordinary people to support efforts to limit the destruction of bees in the world.The team will develop a platform where people around the world will be able to "adopt" bees and hives by donating money for a year and after that they will receive a special certificate.This certificate will enable them to buy bee products at a discount from the catalog of the platform.The innovative startup on the other hand makes a connection with manufacturers of bee products that will be displayed by the platform, and people will choose who they want to support. The website will provide information about the problem with bees.So the team hopes to achieve two main effects - on the one hand contribute to the increase in the population of bees in the world and on the other hand, support the producers of bee products.

Second, with 248 points were the Eco Corner team, who proposed an innovative concept of eco restaurant, built and furnished from natural and recycled materials, producing its own electricity through solar panels and purifying water with a special system.The restaurant serves dishes made only from natural products which will be supplied by the manufacturers of the local community. Young entrepreneurs will organize monthly training courses in the restaurant, where customers can visit to find out how to apply the principles of sustainable development in their own lives. The first restaurant will be opened in Sofia, and the potential for more in the country and all over the world, is big enough. Entrepreneurs rely to gain initial funding through platforms for crowdfunding as Kickstarter and Green Hero.

Third with 244 points were the Eco Gym team. Their idea is to motivate people who regularly go to the gym to do something good for the environment, without having to change somehow their regular workout. The team will create a gym, where fitness equipment will be placed (such equipment already exists on the market) that makes it possible to store the energy from the mechanical movements during the workout and convert it into electricity. In front of the gym a big dashboard will be placed that will show the amount of electricity produced by the customer during the month and will also calculate how much CO2 emissions are saved by their commitment. The most active people doing exercises on these devices will receive special discounts.

The project partners Junior Achievement Bulgaria and Ungt Entreprenorskap Sogn og Fjordane will support the best three teams so that they can continue to develop their ideas in the coming months, with access to mentors and information options for further funding.

The competition was a final element of a week-long Eco camp for 40 students from Norway and Bulgaria. The special guests of the Eco Camp's official opening at the Norwegian House in Momchilotvsi on October 2nd were the Charge d'Affaires of the Royal Norwegian Embassy Tale Kandal, the Secreatary of Smolyan Municipality Momchil Nikolov and the Mayor of Momchilotvsi Maria Nikova. The participating students who were aged 15-19 took part in many practical activities aimed at improving their skills to create sustainable businesses. They visited organic farms near the village Momchilovtsi, participated in team games and team building adventure "Treasure Hunt". The final challenge was the innovation camp.

The Eco camp is part of the "Green Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Development" project, which will last until the end of April 2015 and is implemented by Junior Achievement Bulgaria, in partnership with the Norwegian sister organization Ungt Entreprenorskap Sogn og Fjordane. It is financed within the NGO Programme in Bulgaria under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area 2009 - 2014

The project partners will also prepare a report with recommendations aimed at educational institutions in Bulgaria, which will justify the need for practical oriented education in entrepreneurship and sustainable development to find its place in the school programs.

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