Sofia Development Association (SDA), Sofia Municipality (SM), Caritas Sofia and the UNHCR Representation in Bulgaria presented the first awards for responsible employers of refugees and migrants today, 17 December, at SofiaLab. 18 December, is the International Migrants’ Day – on this date in 1990 the UN adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. On this occasion, the awards aim to recognize companies that recruit and retain migrants in their teams, give them public recognition for fostering diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and promote best practices for everyone’s professional development.
“Sofia has always aspired to be a city that is open to cultural diversity, the skills to live together, and to lead our city to prosperity. You are the people who, with your professional skills and your hearts, give opportunities to migrants who are forced to look for a home elsewhere. In life it is very important to live with dignity, and work and employment are dignity,” said Malina Edreva from the Sofia City Council.
“Employing people in a vulnerable situation is the highest form of responsibility – on the one hand to themselves and on the other to the local community. Admiration to all employers who conscientiously assume this responsibility!” added Tsvetomir Dumanov from Caritas Sofia.
The awards are also part of the activities of the new Bureau for Information and Services for third country nationals, which has been up and running since October this year through the joint efforts of SM, SDA, BRC, with the support of “Vazrazhdane” Markets and UNHCR, co-financed by the EU through the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund under the CONNECTION project.
“Thank you to Sofia Municipality, Sofia Development Association and Caritas for the cooperation and partnership because the developments we have seen in Sofia in recent years are possible thanks to working together,” said Petya Kovacheva from UNHCR.
CITUB, BCCI, members of the Integration Working Group collected nominations and the initiating organizations selected the winners in 5 categories – areas particularly relevant for the successful integration of foreign citizens. The 2021 winners have made a significant contribution to reducing barriers to migrants in the labour market and to fostering integration and understanding in the community of Sofia and its surroundings.
In the category for sustainable commitment to migrant employees the company “Convoy-World” AD was awarded, a leading manufacturer and distributor of household goods with a production base in the area of Novi Iskar. The company has been employing asylum seekers and third country nationals for more than 5 years. In addition to the much-needed work, as a socially responsible employer Convoy provides an address, housing and comprehensive support with other necessary services such as kindergarten enrolment, personal doctor, etc. Convoy currently employs 4 people from Syria and Pakistan.
In the category of green jobs for third-country nationals, the prize went to “Franciskup”, a company that recycles starters and alternators and sells them at home and abroad. Currently, 3 boys from Afghanistan are working at Francizkup and they had the chance to get their first job in this company. The company also offers them housing.
In the category “Employer with respect for mothers and women” the award went to “Angel Baby” Ltd, a company for clothing for children from 0-4 years and textiles for the nursery. This year “Angel Baby” Ltd has hired 3 women from Afghanistan and Yemen and is in the process of opening 2 more positions for vulnerable women, and they have expressed a desire to hire qualified men as well.
In the category “Combining work and learning” “Ortotech: Ltd, the largest Bulgarian manufacturer of orthopaedic medical devices, won. “Ortotech” currently employs 2 boys from Afghanistan, who are not only provided with on-the-job training, but also the opportunity to combine the work process with Bulgarian language courses.
In the “teamwork” category the award went to “TerraStone”, a Bulgarian company with import, distribution and direct sale of porcelain tiles, floor ceramics, sanitary ware, technical marble and granite. “TerraStone” employs 3 people from Syria who received full support and acceptance from the team, and realized their successful inclusion as equal colleagues in a better working team.
“Thank you for this award. I have shared this news with my colleagues, and they are very happy that positive feedback is coming back to us in this way,” said Georgi Gyurov from “Ortotech”.
“Bulgaria needs replenishments in the cadres – young people who can be integrated and socialised. In this way we develop the Bulgarian economy, and the country prospers.” Kiril Angelov, Frantsizkup Ltd.
CONNECTION project: CONNEcting Cities Towards Integration action, is co-funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.