Andrey Nikolov

2024 IVLP Impact Award Project: VentureBridge: Building Business BondsBulgaria

Andrey Nikolov is a founder of the Open Doors Foundation, an organization that launched several programs to help Ukrainian refugees in Bulgaria after the outbreak of the full-scale war in Ukraine. Andrey, who is Ukrainian and has lived in Bulgaria for more than seven years, has led several initiatives to bring displaced Ukrainians to Sofia, where he has connected them with local host families. In collaboration with Airbnb, he has also secured $100,000 in free housing for Ukrainians in the Sofia region.

Andrey’s landmark project under the Open Doors Foundation is the Ukrainian Education Hub in Sofia. This education hub gives displaced Ukrainian children an opportunity to study according to the Ukrainian curriculum and provides a space where students can attend classes in person, while also providing employment opportunities for displaced Ukrainian teachers and educators. Andrey spearheaded the efforts behind the school, including by traveling to European countries to solicit donations.

IVLP Impact Award Project: VentureBridge: Building Business Bonds

The project supports displaced Ukrainian entrepreneurs in Bulgaria by providing them with the knowledge, skills, and connections needed to successfully establish and grow their businesses in a new environment. Through a series of targeted workshops and culminating in a networking event, the project intends to equip these entrepreneurs with crucial knowledge of Bulgarian business laws, marketing strategies, financial management, and HR practices.

The project fosters cross-cultural exchange and collaboration between Ukrainian and Bulgarian business communities and facilitates the economic integration of displaced entrepreneurs, contributing to local economic growth and social cohesion. Drawing from Andrey’s own experiences as a displaced entrepreneur, the project promises practical, empathetic support and will lay the groundwork for a sustainable support network that will continue to aid displaced entrepreneurs in the future.

“I am committed to making this project a catalyst for positive change and a testament to the power of international collaboration and support.” – Andrey Nikolov

IVLP Exchange Experience 

Andrey participated in the IVLP Project Regional Responses to Refugee and Migration Issues organized by the U.S. Department of State and American Councils for International Education, in partnership with San Diego Diplomacy Council, World Trade Center Institute, WorldOrlando, and GlobalPittsburgh.

Andrey’s exchange experience led to the development of his project: “My IVLP experience, particularly the insightful conversation with Mr. Michael M. Matesic, President & CEO of Idea Foundry, Inc., significantly shaped my vision for [this] project. By applying the insights and strategies gleaned from [this interaction], the project aspires to create a lasting impact on the Bulgarian business landscape and beyond, reinforcing the role of entrepreneurship in societal resilience and prosperity.”

“My experience in the [IVLP] has deeply influenced my understanding of the power of entrepreneurship as a tool for empowerment and community development.” - Andrey Nikolov

U.S. Communities Visited

San Diego, CA; Washington DC; Orlando, FL; Pittsburgh, PA

Country: Bulgaria

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