By Ivan Karastoyanov
JAMBA – Career For All is the social enterprise of Social Future Foundation, established by Joana Koleva and Iva Tsolova. The two young and lovely entrepreneurs started their mutual endeavour by organizing two annual career forums in the conference room of a very famous 5-star hotel in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. Representatives of local and international businesses with branches in the Southeastern EU member country, interested in hiring people with different abilities – or diversabilities, as Iva and Joana like to call them – had the opportunity to meet with disabled people looking for a job. The two of them quickly realized there was a huge gap between what skills and competences the job applicants had to offer and those the business was actually looking for. Therefore, their small team began organizing training courses and internships for the diversabled in partnership with some of the companies. In 2019, JAMBA Hungary came into being as a result of the efforts of Sara, a young Hungarian woman I met about 7 years ago at The Perfect Match – an EU funded Erasmus+ training course in Italy. Soon after, Iva Tsolova moved to live in Vienna, where she established JAMBA Austria. The first three years Iva and Joana succeeded in finding job for about 500 persons with different abilities. Ever since the pandemic hit, however, they managed to help only about 40 more people.
In order to achieve sustainability, apart from receiving one monthly salary as a donation for each successful job placement, the team of JAMBA developed several added value products and services and organized different fund-raising events. For instance, they offered a professional photography session voucher as a gift for various holidays and a fluffy, branded, body towel for colorful and pleasant experiences at the seaside during the summer season. They also received personally the blessings of the founder of the 5 km charitable marathon Run2Gether. With more than 2 000 runners with disabilities and 1 500 volunteers in five cities in Thailand, it has quickly gained the reputation of the biggest social running event in the world. So far, there have been 4 editions in Bulgaria and popular sports people, musicians, singers, actors, journalists also took part in them as good will ambassadors, promoting social inclusion.
It took the Capital Municipality Council and the local mayer administration more than 2 years to vote on providing a location for the career center and go through all the bureaucratic procedures and details. On Thursday, October 7, the JAMBA Hub of opportunities finally opened doors. Representatives of the local administration, the business, the media and different socially vulnerable groups were present at the event. Many international and local businesses made donations – money, equipment, furniture, voluntary work – to make the career center the one and only of this type in eastern Europe at present. The mayer promised that a guiding line from the nearest underground train station to the Hub of opportunities will be available for white cane users during the spring road reconstruction works in the neighborhood. Meanwhile, the team of Jamba will make a text description of the route and provide it for free download as an audio map.
The first training course for Junior Software Development specialists with diversabilities began on Monday, October 25. Two partially sighted men and two blind women joined the rest in the training. A day before the grand opening of the Hub of Opportunities, Iva and I delivered an online presentation to representatives of the company, implementing the training course. They wanted to learn what to expect from the people with diversabilities who enrolled for the training and how to prepare and adapt their educational materials and methods for participants with hearing and visual challenges. Many other trainings, social and cultural events are in one or another stage of implementation. Unfortunately, due to current anti-virus spreading measures in Bulgaria, any such activities are largely restricted.