Bistra Ivanova


Bistra Ivanova has been working in the field of community development, civic participation, integration of migrants and refugees and human rights in Bulgaria since 2010. She is an integration expert, researcher, community leader and social entrepreneur, co-founder and chairperson of Multi Kulti Collective and national coordinator of the official European Commission portal on migrant integration European Website on Integration.
Her education includes BA in Media Studies (Sofia University) and MA in Financial Management and Marketing (University of Finance, Business and Entrepreneurship, Sofia). Bistra has also specialized European Union Law and Policy on Immigration and Asylum (Université libre de Bruxelles), Migration Policy in an European Context (Central European University, Hungary), Research Methods (University of London), Qualitative Research Methods (University of Amsterdam).
Her awards and recognitions include:
– Idea Maker (2017) – European Cultural Foundation, the Netherlands;
– Women of the Year (2016) – shortlisted, Grazia, Bulgaria;
– Community Leader (2015-2016), ViabilityNet 2.0, Via Foundation, Czech Republic,
– Global Shaper (2014-2015), World Economic Forum, Switzerland;
– 40 under 40 (2014), Darik Radio, Bulgaria;
– Human of the Year (2014) – nominated, Bulgarian Helsinki Committee;
– Volunteer of the Year (2011), Astika Foundation, Bulgaria.

Organization: ‘Multi Kulti Collective’, Bulgaria

After 25 years as a country of emigration (more than 1 million Bulgarians moved permanently to the EU, the US, Canada, etc. during this period), Bulgaria is slowly turning into a recipient country for migrants/ refugees from all over the world. On the one hand, Bulgarian society is still afraid and insecure about migrants/refugees; hate speech is increasing, more and more nationalistic parties are present in the parliament, cases of physical attacks have been evidenced, etc. On the other hand, migrants/ refugees feel excluded and isolated.
The project is about creating a space where these two groups can meet informally and get to know each other. Six cooking classes hosted by migrant/refugee chefs and attended by students from marginalized schools will be organized. On the one hand, the cooking classes will give students the opportunity to meet integrated migrants/refugees in a positive environment. On the other hand, it will empower migrants/refugees and give them an opportunity to present their culture and cuisine in the best possible light.
Over the last five years my work has been mostly about bridging the gap between Bulgarian and migrant/refugee communities and food has proved to be the best tool for achieving amazing results.