Thematic Fund Civil Society Participation Bulgaria

Project completed
two old women sitting on a bench
Promoting civil society is important for democracy in Bulgaria © SDC/Seco DEZA/SECO

The goal of the Thematic Fund „Civil Society Participation“ is to empower the Bulgarian civil society organizations as important actors in development and democratic process. Specific objectives are to bring concrete solutions for specific environmental and social challenges as well as to build capacities of the various implementation partners.


Country/region Topic Period Budget
Protecting the environment
Strengthening civil society
Non-governmental organisations
01.07.2011 - 30.11.2019
CHF 8'000'000

Note: the texts under all the headings, with the exception of 'Results achieved', describe the situation before the start of the project.


Bulgarian NGOs have similar development agenda as the government and the general public; they all equate it with the EU accession and post accession process. At the local level, NGOs call for economic development that encourages small and medium-sized business, overcomes territorial discrepancies, achieves sustainability and cares about ordinary people. A big concern for NGOs is the ineffectiveness and corruption in state institutions. The main source of funding for the NGOs is still project funding.
Problems connected to EU funding in Bulgaria coupled with the financial crisis have had a serious effect on NGOs. In addition, those NGOs that managed to get EU funding are faced with serious
liquidity problems.


The civil society in Bulgaria in general, the NGOs and the vulnerable population in particular.

Target groups

The civil society in Bulgaria in general, the NGOs and the vulnerable population in particular.


The intervention strategy includes two main pillars:
• A large project of the civil society/NGOs aiming at linking biodiversity conservation and sustainable rural income generation.
• A portfolio of small projects of the civil society/NGOs in the field of environment protection and social issues to be identified and selected after a call for applications (Block Grant).

A managing and capacity building body (Swiss Intermediate Body) will guarantee the good use of funds, the link to Swiss partners and the sustainability of the Swiss support activities.


Achieved results:  

(by the end of 2018)

  • One large project in the field of sustainable development implemented in cooperation between 4 Swiss and 5 Bulgarian partners: see specific achieved results for the Linking Nature Protection and Sustainable Rural Development project.
  • 35 small scale projects completed, 12 in the environnement, 23 in social services. The participation of the non-governmental sector in development issues has been strenghtened in Bulgaria through the 47 involved NGOs (including 2 Swiss).
  • 1 project - jointly funded by the Thematic Fund Civil Society Participation and the Thematic Fund Partnership (Network it SMART) - contributed to the visibility of the achievements under both TFs as well as to the strenghtening of the networking capacities of the supported NGOs.

Expected results:  

• one large project in the field of sustainable development implemented as cooperation between Swiss and Bulgarian partners
• 20 to 30 projects of Bulgarian NGOs implemented in the fields of environment and social services

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Swiss Contribution to the enlarged EU
Project partners Contract partner
Swiss Non-profit Organisation
  • Other Swiss Non-profit Organisation

Other partners

Intermediary Body: Foundation InnovaBridge in Caslano, Neosys Ltd in Berne and the Balkan Institute for Labour and Social Policy (BILSP) in Sofia; Executing Agency: Various Bulgarian NGOs

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF   8'000'000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF   7'999'270
Project phases

Phase 1 01.07.2011 - 30.11.2019   (Completed)