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Of Intrapreneurship, Blood Donation and Using a Crisis as an Opportunity

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The COVID-19 crisis caused drastic changes in how business is done. As most of the ecosystems were shaken, many firms wondered how exactly to switch to remote working. Others, who had already adjusted to working online, concentrated on organizing various community events aiming to help their employees cope with the stress. Hackathons, intrapreneurship programs, incubation projects – and many others – replaced the cultural events that many used to attend. Yet, some of these projects went one step further by becoming beneficial to society.

Such is the case with “Дари Кръв” (from Bulgarian “Donate Blood”) – a mobile application developed by the Bulgarian IT services company Accedia in support of the Bulgarian Organization of Voluntary Blood Donation (BOVBD). The platform is pro bono and came out as a result of one of Accedia’s initiatives during the pandemic – a brainstorming session that encouraged employees to make suggestions for social projects. The app, an innovative response to the pandemic, has been working for both iOS and Android since the end of June. “This app came into the right moment as we were facing a lot of challenges due to the COVID-19 crisis” – comments Stefka Popova, a representative of BOVBD. 

Blood Donation and COVID-19

The virus has dramatically affected the entire social system. For blood centers and NGOs such as BOVBD, the pandemic has had an extremely negative effect as most of the volunteers to donate blood feel too scared to participate in a blood campaign. The app “Дари Кръв” (from Bulgarian “Donate Blood”) has come as an optimal solution which helped BOVBD’s team to communicate with the volunteers, distract some of their worries, and answer questions. “Apart from the technological optimizations, the application offers a direct connection between the users and our Facebook page, where we usually answer questions – and we hadn’t realized how important this is,” says Stefka Popova. 

Blood donation campaigns cannot work well without an organization that acts as an intermediary between the volunteers and the people in need of blood. Most importantly, different organizations are there to prevent illegal blood selling, as this turns out to be a major problem. “People have a very unrealistic view of how blood donation works. When the team from Accedia reached us, they also had a different vision in regards to how the app would look. Yet, we were able to collaborate very productively and developed an intuitive platform that is accessed easily.” One of the biggest advantages of the app for BOVBD is definitely that it has both an Android and iOS version. The next step for BOVBD is to optimize its website so that it becomes user friendly.

Intrapreneurship in the times of a crisis

Intrapreneurship refers to a managerial system in which the employer gives his/her employees an opportunity to act like an entrepreneur but inside the company. An employee is usually able to make suggestions for various projects and is given the resources to develop this idea into a final product. In this system, the employees are encouraged to be creative while the company handles the costs of the project or any losses that are often associated with entrepreneurship. The positive outcomes include increased employee satisfaction, higher work motivation productivity, and improved self-esteem. 

+++Read more about intrapreneurship here+++

Despite being relatively unpopular in Bulgaria, intrapreneurship has been successfully implemented in several Bulgarian companies, one of which is Accedia. According to Nikolay Mutafov, the CEO of the company, their “Innovation development center” has existed for more than 4 years. This is where the idea for “Дари Кръв” – the mobile app –  was born. “During the pandemic, we asked our employees for project ideas that would, in their opinion, be beneficial for the community,” says Mutafov. “One of our colleagues shared his personal experience with blood donation and talked about how hard it is to receive blood. After a discussion, the vast majority of our team supported the idea of a blood donation project.” The app was developed by a team of 7 people and became a fact soon after. The benefit for the company, according to the CEO, was that the employees felt productive which resulted in increased work enthusiasm. “A project like this enables employees to try innovative approaches and improve soft skills such as leadership.”

Blood campaigns are expected to begin again this September, comment representatives of BOVBD. Currently, the blood centers are not able to provide the patients in need with blood. In most cases, the siblings are the ones that have to find a donor. Yet, the idea of the system is different – “If the majority of people who are eligible to donate blood do it twice a year, there will be no blood deficit in the blood banks,” says Stefka Popova.

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