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SDG 8. Increasing labor productivity and reducing the unemployment rate, especially for young people, is an essential component of sustained and inclusive economic growth. All children should be considered stakeholders in economic activities, with an understanding of their potential, and be given information about work opportunities. To protect their rights and safety and promote their development and education, children, especially from marginalized groups, should be supported to enter the labor market.


Maya Doneva & Stoyana Stoeva
The Social Teahouse, Bulgaria

The Social Teahouse equips institutionalized youth for work life

In Bulgaria, youth who have been institutionalized in orphanages have difficulties accessing the labor market and leading independent lives. Contributing factors include negative role models, low education levels, unhealthy and insecure family environments and social prejudice. In response to these challenges, social entrepreneurs Maya Doneva and Stoyana Stoeva founded The Social Teahouse, an organization that runs mentorship programs supporting personal and vocational development for institutionalized youth. Youth in the program ultimately have more opportunities for employment, and many receive their first job through their participation.

Outcome results

Pilot study indicates improved capabilities for employment

During 2018, Stoyana and her team conducted a pilot measurement to test fulfillment of the targeted outcome, Increased professional and personal capabilities (such as decision making and ability to keep deadlines). For more reliable conclusions, the measurement needs to be performed on a bigger sample, but initial results are positive; all youth participating in the study demonstrated progress and increased their self-assessment score by on average 16 percentage points.



The Social Teahouse helped Ivan towards an independent life

The team of The Social Teahouse tells the story of Ivan: “Only eight years old, Ivan was removed from his family and put in an institution, because of the at-risk environment at home. When he was aging out of the institution as he approached 18, he was completely unaware of his opportunities and the choices he needed to make, due to lack of a trusting environment and positive role models. We started working with Ivan on his CV. He is very good with storytelling and presentations, but when it came to talking about himself, he was shy and insecure. 

I reminded him about all the times he has been promoted during the two years we’ve been together, about all his experience during the adventure camps we’ve had and about all the lessons and events that he has participated in. Ivan is leaving us now. He found a better paying job, and he is ready to move outside of our safe work environment. He is the first participant in our mentorship program to ever graduate, and it’s wonderful and sad all at the same time. Any employer would be lucky to have him.”


“He is the first participant in our mentorship program to ever graduate and it’s wonderful and sad all at the same time.” — Stoyana Stoeva

Reach for Change impact measurement support empowered The Social Teahouse to more effectively mentor Bulgarian orphans towards better opportunities for employment

Before joining the incubator, measuring social impact was not a priority for The Social Teahouse: “For many years we postponed creating a measurement tool, but finally — after much encouragement and lobbying — the Reach for Change team made us realize how important impact measurement is and spurred us to make it a priority in 2018. During the process of developing the tool, they challenged us and asked questions on how the measurement would work in practice. Working with the Reach for Change team is like having a mirror in front of you, where you can see and hear how something looks or sounds from another perspective — this has been really valuable for us.”

The Social Teahouse sees many benefits by measuring impact. Stoyana Stoeva, co-founder of the Social Teahouse, explains: “Measuring our impact on the mentees’ progress gives us the opportunity to learn and to modify the mentorship program so that it better fits their abilities and needs.” She continues: “In the future, when we have become more experienced using the measurement tool and have more data, we hope that our impact measurement can help verify the effectiveness of our program. We want to use the results to attract potential partners, employers who would be interested in hiring from our target group, as well as the support of public authorities and decision makers on a political level.”

Stoyana reflects on The Social Teahouse’s three-year participation in the incubator: “Reach for Change is the organization which ‘knows everything in our kitchen,’ in the sense that they know our organization inside out. Over the years we have developed a real partnership, and Reach for Change has a very special and intimate role with The Social Teahouse.”

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