Beautiful handicrafts are its "trademark", but what makes it truly special are their creators - people with intellectual disabilities who live their dream of being useful, and their work - appreciated and liked


We are used to entering bookstores to look for books, textbooks or various workbooks and games, but in Nadezhda bookstore in the Plovdiv district of Trakia you won’t be just a customer but also the most precious guest. There they will greet you with big smiles and send you away with a good luck charm as a thank you for your purchase.

In addition to everything you would find in any such place - bestsellers of all genres, popular magazines and stationery, in Nadezhda you can get handmade souvenirs, cards for various occasions and seasonal gifts. And that's not all: the skilled artists in the workshop next door will proudly show you how to add three-dimensionality to the cards and decorate martenitsas with embroidery and beads.

The Nadezhda bookstore and workshop are the work of the Parallel World Association, an organization of parents of children with special needs. The association started its activities in 2010, initially offering educational and psychological assistance to children with intellectual disabilities and their families, but gradually their entrepreneurship helped them find a way to create not only a social environment but also conditions for development and work of their descendants.

The founders are convinced that "regular life is the best environment" for their children and managed to show it. The benefits of attending regular training programs, sports training, participation in competitions, specialized psychological help and training tailored to their age and needs weren’t late. Participants in Parallel World programs have made visible progress in behavior and skills and have become more confident and independent over time.

The association opened the Nadezhda workshop and bookstore in 2018 to enable young adults to apply the acquired skills and meet different people. And although the employees are much more than the real needs of the business - Nadezhda employs about 15 people with disabilities and five mothers - Kremena and the team of Parallel World don’t stop looking for opportunities for additional training and hiring new people.

That’s how they found the "Entrepreneurship for non-profit organizations" program of the Bulgarian Center for Non-Profit Law (BCNL). Their idea to offer a sewing course and produce reusable eco bags was one of the winners in the 2019 edition of the program. The participating civil society organizations develop skills for starting and managing a business and with the financial and mentoring support of the Center make their first steps in entrepreneurship. Social enterprises also get access to the online platform for gifts with the cause of BCNL - DarPazar, where they can offer their products and services.

Entrepreneurial initiatives in Parallel World undoubtedly lead to greater awareness of the challenges facing people with intellectual disabilities. But their real achievement is the qualitative change in the lives of men and women who go through their training or work in the bookstore and workshop. All participants put a lot of effort into making each card and souvenir, and when the work decreases, they start asking what else is there to help with. The service in Nadezhda bookstore is unsurpassed, so it has won them many regular customers. There are also those who order sought-after books only from Nadezhda and patiently wait for their order, instead of getting the books right away from the big chains in the city.

Despite the loyalty of its customers, the bookstore usually operates at a loss. The months in which they manage to cover their accounts only with turnover are so rare that they are considered successful.

So if you have a way there, be sure to visit them. Nadezhda bookstore with a mission is located in the Trakia neighborhood, apartment block 15, entrance V.

In the meantime, you can get their beautiful martenitsas and gifts online at DarPazar.

DarPazar is an initiative of the Bulgarian Center for Non-Profit Law (BCNL) and the Accenture Bulgaria company for digital business services and solutions. BCNL supports the development of an active civil society in Bulgaria through advocacy and entrepreneurship training and works with the long-term support of the America for Bulgaria Foundation

Source: US4BG