Wiktor Doktór (Pro Progressio): What were the main business and economy trends last year in Bulgaria and forecast for 2019?
Anna-Marie Vilamovska (Bulgarian Outsourcing Association): 2018 was quite a good year for the Bulgarian economy. In fact, it was the fifth consecutive year marked by economic growth, varying between 3.3 and 3.5% depending on the source of information.
The even better news is that the outsourcing sector in Bulgaria grows even faster than the country’s economy. Bulgaria has kept its place among the world’s leading destinations for BPO and ITO services. We rank first among all SEE destinations on the A.T. Kearney’s Global Services Location Index, second after Poland in Europe, and 15th worldwide.
These good results are no surprise. In 2017, the operating revenue of the industry grew twice as fast, at 18.2% y/y basis. The number of companies located in Bulgaria is rising steadily, and so are the companies’ individual revenues. All this shows that the sector is going through a transition towards more complicated knowledge-intensive activities.
Wiktor Doktór: What was the biggest success of the Bulgarian outsourcing industry in 2018?
Anna-Marie Vilamovska: The outsourcing sector in Bulgaria has achieved a lot over the past year, besides the growth of the industry. As a socially responsible sector, we invest in the development of Bulgarian talents and the labor market in general.
The Bulgarian Outsourcing Association has taken the leading role for some national education-related projects that will continue in 2019. The projects are co-developed with the Ministry of Education and other leading IT&T organizations in Bulgaria. We have also started our own CSR project, related to supporting young scientific talent. As part of our Christmas Philanthropic Drive, this year we have started a donation campaign for the Bulgarian Natural Sciences Olympic Teams Association.
Wiktor Doktór: Let’s take a look on general business and economy situation in Bulgaria – is there happening something interesting for foreign investors who’d like to open the Operation Centres in Bulgaria or start to use services of existing companies?
Anna-Marie Vilamovska: If one word can sum up the forecasts of all analysts for the Bulgarian economy in 2019, it is stability. The expectations for a global recession do not seem to affect Bulgaria, at least for now. The forecasted economy growth for this year is approximately the same as the one for 2018. The World Bank has estimated a 3.1% growth of the country’s economy in 2019, which is higher than the average forecast for Easter Europe (2.9%).