24.11.2023 Todor Todorov: Our holiday wish is to stay firm and keep our positions

The Executive Director of NGF for the 24 Hours newspaper

NGF Executive Director Todor Todorov is a graduate of the American University in Bulgaria and Thunderbird University in Arizona, USA. He got his start as an investment banker in JP Morgan's New York office. Upon his return to Bulgaria, he established the consumer finance unit at Hebros Bank before joining UniCredit. He led Deloitte's corporate finance for Bulgaria and was a partner in the company's CEE branch. Under his leadership, an international team of Deloitte assisted BNB in the implementation of the largest asset quality assessment project of the banking system in the country.

„The National Guarantee Fund turned 15 years old. What needs to change in its focus of activity?“

„I don't believe that vision is a mandatory prerequisite for success. What would be the vision of the head of a hospital who cares for human life, or of the insurer who pays compensations?

I've developed a habit of working with goals and I believe when the goal is clear, the vision naturally imposes itself. We don't just facilitate access to finance. We make the loan possible. And this is the main problem of almost every small business. In a more "visionary" style - we solve the problems of the present. We let the business decide what the future will be - green or multicolored. This understanding is embedded in the design of our programs and is a key competitive advantage. In this regard, my vision for next year is to do more of the same.“

„Could you highlight the main achievements of the Fund since its establishment?“

„I was lucky enough to get an excellent team. Most of my colleagues have been part of the company since the beginning and remember every scheme, agreement, and guarantee paid. This is a rare quality. Since the beginning of its work, the NGF has guaranteed nearly 14 thousand loans for over BGN 3 billion, and the profit for the period is 26 million. One in five small and medium-sized enterprises benefits from our guarantees. We have a key role as a guarantor of small business with an established position in the market. We wish to stand firmly where we are!“

“You were an investment banker is New York. Why did you decide to come back and work in Bulgaria?”

“Simply put, it was fate. We founded a hedge fund with two other friends and colleagues from Wall Street and the American University, recruiting clients in Bulgaria and managing the funds in US securities and derivatives. It happened in 2003-2004, when the country had already accumulated capital, but lacked investment products. We, on the other hand, felt that we lived everywhere and could do anything. Things went well. Then they slowed down, other opportunities came up, and everyone went their own way.

There was a brief period where I longed to relive Wall Street and New York. I have never considered an overseas career outside of an investment bank.”

“What did you learn from your overseas career?”

“I had the incredible opportunity to learn from people who worked at breakneck speed and permitted freedom of action. I appreciate the team's expediency and trust above all else. I only spend time on the "important details". This is the opposite of micromanagement, something I grew to dislike. These were the lessons of the environment that shaped me.”

“At what point in your career have you felt truly fulfilled?”

“I think I've felt satisfaction throughout my career. Specifically, at this stage, I am satisfied that I am part of something extremely meaningful and I have colleagues by my side who share that. I like to believe, perhaps immodestly, that I help everyone feel the significance of their contribution. I felt a sense of pride when I walked in JP Morgan's building, but that was only the result of a dream come true at an early stage of maturity. Later on, one understands that satisfaction is the foundation of professional success.

Outside of work, I get charged up from candid conversations with friends. The generosity of spirit. The beautiful victory of the beloved football team.”

“Which is your favorite football team?”

"Brazil. I've also been to their camp before the 2006 World Cup. My club favorites change depending on the presence of Brazilian players."

“If you were not a banker, what would you want to do?”

“I studied English Philology for a year at Sofia University, which was my dream since high school. I got into the American University next year, where I got interested in corporate finance - and I still am. I don't remember wishing for anything else, but if this hadn’t happened, I probably would have gone into comparative linguistics.”

 

Back in 2001, a project of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy - the Microloan Guarantee Fund - gave birth to the future National Guarantee Fund. The fund merged into the Bulgarian Development Bank in 2008 and became the National Guarantee Fund. The fund has some impressive results - a portfolio of 80 million microloans and 11,000 borrowers, achieved with a team of six people. This means over 13 million levs and 1,800 supported enterprises per person.

The NGF started work in early 2009 and has gradually implemented own risk guarantee schemes, project support agreements in the fisheries and agriculture sectors, and a guarantee scheme under the COSME programme. The NGF's latest programme is a guarantee masterpiece, and the results are telling:

BGN 3.3 billion guaranteed loans for businesses

12,000 SMEs supported

40 times multiplied public resource

The major advantage of the National Guarantee Fund is the possibility to benefit from the so-called leverage effect. When it was established as part of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the fund was like a big snowball, starting with a capital of BGN 10 million and expanding to BGN 80 million. The transfer of the fund to the BDB multiplied the effect of its operations at the same level of capital many times over. In the meantime, it has provided more than 20,000 jobs.

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