SEAF launched the Trans-Balkan Bulgaria Fund (TBBF) in 2001 to continue to address the lack of available financing for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Bulgaria. Building on SEAF’s existing network in the country from our CARESBAC Bulgaria Fund, TBBF indentified new investment opportunities among Bulgaria’s growing SME sector. TBBF was formed through SEAF’s umbrella fund the Trans-Balkan Fund, and additional capital from USAID grant to invest in promising SMEs in the region.
As the Bulgarian economy continued to rebuild after 45 years of communism and domestic and regional unrest, the cultivation of a strong private sector remained essential to the county’s sustainable growth. Despite the importance of its middle economy, SMEs in Bulgaria remained severely under-invested and lack essential business assistance. With a dedicated local staff, TBBF met this need, providing portfolio companies with patient capital and technical assistance from an international network of experts. Through its partnerships with these local companies, TBBF experienced first-hand the economic and social potential of Bulgaria’s SME sector.
Through TBBF, SEAF collaborated with new entrepreneurs and extended relationships with the companies it had worked with through its previous country fund. TBBF made successful investments in growth-oriented SMEs across a range of sectors, including one of Bulgaria’s leading office supply distribution companies, Bulgaria’s leading coffee and ice cream chain, and a liquefied petroleum gas distributor.