America for Bulgaria Foundation started operations in Bulgaria in 2009, but our connection with Bulgaria dates back more than 25 years. In 1989, the US Congress passed the Support for East European Democracy (SEED) Act. Among its many goals was to promote democracy and the transition to free markets in former communist countries. One way to achieve that was through Enterprise Funds, private tax-exempt corporations funded with US taxpayers’ money and managed by a volunteer Board of Directors, which included US businessmen, entrepreneurs and investors.
The Bulgarian-American Enterprise Fund (BAEF) was established in 1991 with a capital base of $55 million. It was one of ten funds created to serve 17 countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. BAEF invested in the emerging free market economy of Bulgaria supporting entrepreneurial Bulgarians to create small and medium businesses. One of the Fund’s major investments was the Bulgarian-American Credit Bank (BACB) established in 1996, which quickly became one of the most successful banks in Bulgaria.
In 2007, with Bulgaria’s entry to the European Union, the BAEF had largely fulfilled its mission and began selling its investments. In 2008, BAEF sold BACB to Allied Irish Bank.
BAEF repaid half -- $27.5 million -- of its original grant to the US government and with the remaining funds, founded the America for Bulgaria Foundation (ABF). The proceeds, totaling more than $400 million, formed the ABF corpus which is now used to provide grants to NGO’s and charities.
With a return of over 800%, the BAEF was the most successful of all ten SEED funds created in the early 1990's in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
For more information on ABF history CLICK HERE.