Issue 8 2023

14 | Acquisition International, Issue 8 2023 Foreign Investments CEO of the Year 2023 (Balkans): Maria Alexandrova With the mission to drive Bulgarian’s capital to be an innovative, modern, and green city, Sofia Municipality set up the Sofia Investment Agency, which supports entrepreneurs and start-ups looking to establish businesses in Sofia. Its Executive Director, Maria Hristova, has brought significant growth through the incorporation of her expertise, which has led to her recognition in the Influential Businesswoman Awards 2023. Contact: Maria Hristova Company: Sofia Municipality Privatization and Investment Agency Web Address: As a one-stop service for companies, Sofia Investment Agency assists local and international organisations in finding business opportunities, and it provides them with the relevant information and guidance they need. These services are free and personalised to fit the individual needs of existing or emerging companies from a variety of industries. From assessments of the local business climate, connection to key local contacts, and advice on enhancing their business advantages, Sofia Investment Agency enables companies to launch operations quickly and effortlessly. For multinational companies, it translates the local legislation and creates comprehensive benchmark and opportunity analyses for their industry. With 23 universities, over 100,000 students, 63 research centres, and over 20 independent schools, Sofia has an experience and developed recruitment base of individuals with excellent skills and qualifications, especially in the ICT sector and creative industries. Therefore, when setting up in Sofia, organisations have access to a significant number of professionals that can help in their endeavours and elevate their growth. Through taking part in driving the city’s evolution, companies also have access to business-friendly tax rates and low business costs in relation to labour, office spaces, and industrial energy prices. It is a commonly beneficial partnership that brings forward an elevated economy for the locals in Sofia, and companies can imnprove their business through affordable systems. Sofia Investment Agency bridges the gap between organisations and the opportunities that the city offers for entrepreneurs. In the last three years, Maria Hristova’s participation in Sofia Investment Agency has made a significant impact on its mission. She has been able to attract and guide the opening of new offices for the largest Indian company, Tata Group, and the owners of Land Rover and Jaguar. Maria Hristova has 20 years of experience managing hundreds of people, projects, and processes. She shares, “I have known the business environment in Bulgaria well, as well as the academic community. I designed a project to improve dialogue along the business- educationadministration line, for which I sought municipal funding and thanks to which I was offered my current position.” Throughout time, Maria has seen the business sector in Bulgaria evolve and encourage opportunities for career development for women. She has initiated and participated in various programmes and platforms to develop female leadership, entrepreneurship and ecosystems. Maria says, “My advice is for women not to focus on potential problems they may face on account of being women, but to better themselves, to become true experts and to have the confidence that they are such, to work and to enjoy the results that follow naturally. The world is different and together we can make it an even better place.” The positive and loving mindset that Maria carries into all she does has been key to the success in her approaches. The work she has been carrying out through Sofia Investment Agency has recently led her to be awarded Foreign Investments CEO of the Year 2023 (Balkans). In her plans, Maria Hristova is committed to developing innovative industries through working towards holistic change and educational reform while continuing to attract large and international investors to Sofia. Jun23116