“We are in debt to a new generation of foreign entrepreneurs” argued Allister Heath, previous editor of City A.M; so, how better to “pay them back” as it were, than by giving them the recognition and exposure they deserve?
This comes in the wake of anti-immigration debates, many of which are centred on Eastern European migrants. Unfortunately, hostility towards immigrant workers continues to be the overriding “tone” in the UK, and it’s about time we take a look at the facts.
Bulgarian Entrepreneurs in London: A Closer Look
A report conducted by CFE and DueDil emphasizes the “neglected aspect of the immigration debate”, this being the enormous contribution of migrant entrepreneurs, particularly those from Bulgaria, to the United Kingdom.
The UK is home to 8,798 Bulgarian entrepreneurs responsible for 8,398 UK companies.
The average age of British entrepreneurs is 52.1 years old, compared to 36.1, the average age of Bulgarian entrepreneurs in the UK.
The top sectors for Bulgarian-owned industries in the UK include: construction and real estate, manufacturing and heavy industry, consumer goods and services, information technology and healthcare. 30.9% of Bulgarian entrepreneurs are female, while 69.1% are male.
Lubka Henry - Smashing the Stereotypes
Meet Lubka Henry, a young female entrepreneur and proud Bulgarian living in London. She is the creative director and founder of Loop Design and owner of Balgarka, a successful female lifestyle blog.
On Her Successful Blog
A few years after moving to London, Lubka created her female lifestyle and fashion blog: “[it] opened a world of new opportunities for me. I found myself visiting events, interviewing musicians and fashion designers. I had insights of a new industry and was able to speak about the new trends before the public saw them.”
On Moving To London
Moving to London came as a result of wanting to achieve more and challenge herself.
“There was a time when I felt as if I had reached the top of my career. I was working as a design manager in an outdoor advertising company in Bulgaria, but I felt like I wanted and I could achieve more.” Before she knew it, Lubka has packed up her life and was on a plane to London.
On Being Bulgarian
When asked whether she had experienced any hostility towards your nationality or the general attitude towards Eastern Europeans - she answered without hesitation: “I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t”. Despite the restrictions being lifted the labour market for Bulgarians back in 2014, Lubka talks of a “certain attitude” that remained noticeable.
“Many institutions have restrictions for Bulgarian citizens. Most banks would not allow us to open a bank account in the country. Many doors are still closed for us, but in the same time there are lots of Brits who see above the clichés.”
Despite acknowledging the difficulties and misperceptions her nationality may bring, Lubka remains a proud Bulgarian: “I would never hide where I come from. It’s very important to know where our roots are.”
On Being An Expatriate
Like many expatriates moving to the UK, Lubka had trouble at first with the British accent, despite having a good knowledge of English before she arrived: “It took me a couple of months to get used to the question “you alright?”
As a side note: We don’t necessarily need or want an answer to our question, nor are we saying it because you look like you are unwell or unhappy; this phrase rolls off the tongue of all Brits, we just can’t help it! It’s a common misconception!
On Future Endeavours
Lubka has some very exciting projects on her hands, one that she is particularly excited about is a new venture with her husband. They plan to open their first retail shop for home-brew beer in Bulgaria: Napravi si bira. The goal is to grow the business and open a microbrewery in Bulgaria.