SOFIA DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION was founded as non-profit organization with the decision 348
of the Sofia Municipal Council to work for the sustainable development of the capital.



SDA is a proud member of the Pact for Skills community which aims to mobilise a concerted effort for quality investment in up- and reskilling Europe’s workforce.  

The Pact for Skills was launched on 10 November 2020. It aims to support public and private organisations with maximising the impact of their investment in upskilling and reskilling, so they can thrive through the green and digital transitions.

The Pact for Skills calls on national, regional and local authorities; companies; social partners; cross-industry and sectoral organisations; chambers of commerce; education and training providers; and employment services to work together and make a clear commitment to invest in training for all people of working age in the EU.

The Pact is the first of the flagship actions under the European Skills Agenda. It is firmly anchored in the European Pillar of Social Rights and supports the ambitions of the EU Industrial and SME Strategies.

Membership in the Pact is a new opportunity for SDA to adopt good EU practices for upskilling and reskilling, as well as to network with European organizations on a variety of topics. Currently, SDA is a consortium member of the SYNCLUSIVE project which is focused on helping vulnerable women 55+ improve their chances for sideward or upward mobility in the labor market. Taking part in initiatives of the PACT opens up possibilities to scale social innovations for the future of employment in Bulgaria.


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101094526


The highly anticipated annual meeting for the SYNCLUSIVE research project took place from 21st to 22nd March 2024 in Helsinki, Finland, and it was a resounding success!

The meeting brought together a significant number of participants, exceeding 25 attendees from various esteemed institutions and organisations - research partners, living lab implementers, reflective partners and advisory board members. Throughout the event, the participants engaged in vibrant discussions, presented research findings, and exchanged valuable insights related to the labour market and the vulnerable groups, the realist evaluation method, the ENGINE model and the Living Labs in Sofia, Kokkola, Amersfoort and Portugal. The diverse range of perspectives and expertise contributed to the richness of the discussions, igniting new ideas and potential avenues for further exploration.

As we reflect on the success of this annual meeting, we are grateful for the dedication and hard work of everyone involved, including the host team of FIOH, speakers, presenters, and attendees. Their commitment and contributions played a crucial role in making this event such a success.

Moving forward, we are excited about the potential outcomes of the research that will materialise during the remaining nearly 3 years of the project and potential collaborations that may emerge. The next annual meeting is planned for March 2025 in Sofia, followed by the midterm workshop in Brussels in June 2025.

Stay informed about more news via our website, X, and LinkedIn channels!

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101094526


After several intensive learning sessions, the first drafts of the business plans of the participants (refugees) in the Business Accelerator program under the PLOUTOS project are finally ready. Ideas for service businesses such as culinary experiences, community hairdressing, and music schools were thoroughly discussed.

One highlight was a session featuring a special guest mentor, Milad, a Syrian refugee who successfully established his own small business. On March 6th, participants had the opportunity to meet Milad face-to-face. He graciously shared his journey and the challenges he overcame to set up a thriving restaurant in downtown Sofia. From licensing to initial investments, access to banking and credit, hiring practices, and even attitudes towards refugees, Milad provided invaluable insights.

Among the key lessons shared were:

          “Investing in your employees pays off: it helps retain trained staff and is also a way to support the refugee community"

          "The location is crucial. I chose a spot in the downtown area, close to schools and offices, which naturally attracted clients."

          "Local clients appreciate it when you speak their language."

          "Consistently delivering high-quality products keeps customers coming back."

          "Regularly analyzing sales data allows for adjustments in recipes, pricing, and promotions."

The participants in the Business Acceleration program greatly valued the opportunity to learn directly from peers. This firsthand knowledge not only enriches their understanding but also equips them to avoid common pitfalls.

Don't miss the chance to watch the video featuring Milad as he shares his inspiring story and valuable insights:


PLOUTOS is implemented with the support of the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.



The conference "Countermeasures to Urban Heat Islands", organized on March 1, 2024 by the Sofia Development Association, brought together leading policymakers, academic experts and researchers, representatives of European cities and regions from 12 European countries, who discussed together the causes, effects and solutions to overcome urban heat islands.

The conference was opened by Julian Popov, Minister of Environment, who pointed out that we need to start thinking seriously about climate adaptation and take specific actions to overcome the effects of heat islands – energy efficiency, green roofs, restoration of urban rivers.

The Deputy Minister of Regional Development Angelina Boneva shared with the participants the recipe for dealing with urban heat: recognition of the problems related to warming and urbanization; development of a strategy; sharing of experiences; institutional involvement; and development of appropriate, place-based solutions.

Nadezhda Bobcheva, Deputy Mayor of Sofia Municipality on environment, explained the complexity of the topic – the intersection of the economy, urban planning, ecology, social cohesion. That is why Sofia's work is in different aspects – improving green spaces, creating groves in neighborhoods, schoolyards and inter-block spaces.

Experts from the universities of Vienna, Bratislava and Sofia presented scientific models and methods that can benefit municipalities. Representatives of European cities and regions shared their approaches and challenges.

The conference is held within the project "Be Ready" under the Interreg Danube Program, led by the Sofia Development Association. "The project aims to equip cities with research and tools and help them develop pilot solutions for climate resilience and adaptation together with citizens," said Sevdalina Voynova, Head of BeReady. Sofia Municipality is a strategic partner in the project.





This conference is supported as part of Be Ready, an Interreg Danube Region Programme project co-funded by the European Union.


What’s new in the SYNCLUSIVE project journey?

Explore a dynamic lineup of events and developments designed to research, test and validate approaches for just labour market. Get to know more about the Living Labs action plans, the new research, and the synergies with other projects.

News from SYNCLUSIVE Living Labs
SYNCLUSIVE 4 Living labs are at the heart of the innovative approaches to foster labour market access and upward mobility for vulnerable groups. They are just finishing the co-creation of their action plans to be implemented during the next 36 months.

A framework with qualitative and quantitative indicators
SYNCLUSIVE has set a comprehensive framework to monitor activities and evaluate Living Lab interventions. The framework would also be useful to policymakers and social partners working on labour market inclusion of vulnerable groups.

News from sister projects
SYNCLUSIVE is proud to cooperate withCARE4CARE and PATHS2INCLUDEother Horizon Europe projects to achieve a higher impact on the EU labour market.

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay tuned for more updates and insights on our mission to create inclusive opportunities in the labour market!

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101094526


The entrepreneurship program, which will help migrants and third-country nationals to develop their own business in the country, began with a lecture on the business environment in Bulgaria. The program, developed by the partners of the project PLUTOS, in which SDA is a partner, includes practical sessions and simulations for starting business initiatives. It is consistent with the conditions that migrants living in Bulgaria must meet in order to realize their business ideas. The training sessions will enable migrants and refugees from Ukraine to gain basic knowledge and skills for entrepreneurship through lectures and meetings with successful migrant entrepreneurs. The practice business program, which is also supported by an online platform, is one of the resources created under the Plutos project, which include courses in financial literacy and business Bulgarian language.



PLOUTOS is implemented with the support of the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.


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