The Leva Foundation

The Leva Foundation was formed by us, Vinex Slavyantsi, and our Swedish partner Giertz Vinimport in 2008. The need for social change and economic support to marginalized groups was then and still is very big in Bulgaria. AtVinex Slavyantsi we had for a long time had the desire to do something to change the status quo in the region and to help its development with “wisdom, patience and positive thinking for the future”. In Sweden Fairtrade wines had been popular for many years and now the idea to do something similar in Bulgaria came up. The Leva Foundation was born.

The name LEVA stands for life, strength and prosperity. In Swedish “LEVA” means “to live”, in old Bulgarian it means “LIONS” (strength) and it is also the money in Bulgaria (which can symbolize prosperity).

The activities of the foundation is financed by the successful sale of LEVA wines both in Bulgaria and abroad. The main export markets are Sweden, Canada and Belgium. Since the start of the foundation over € 200 000 (approx. € 25 000 a year) has been given to our local communities to fund education, healthcare and social- and cultural activities.

The aim of the foundation is to support the social integration of ethnic minorities in our region by securing a better future for these groups and strengthen the bonds in our community. The Roma children are the future of the region and also the future for the winery. Education is the key factor to success and will give people the necessary skills for findings jobs, many of which exist in the production of wine. We believe that grape growing and wine production can be the future for Roma communities in Bulgaria.

Anual report LEVA 2019 Anual report LEVA 2020

“A good jobb, great colleagues and a great place to have a lunchbreak.
What more could you wish for?”

Workers at Vinex Slavyantsi

At Vinex Slavyantsi 90 % of the vineyard workers are Roma. Most of them
live in nearby villages and several of them have been working in the vineyards for many years.

One of them is Radka Iordanova. She has worked at Vinex Slavyantsi for
fifteen years, all the time in the vineyards. She likes to work outdoors and
she enjoys the fresh air. Her tasks are pruning, binding, green work (canopy
management) and harvesting.
Radka lives in Chubra with her husband Angel Iordanov, who works at
another vineyard, and three children.
Radka and Angel have five children but two are married and have families of
their own. The children who still live at home, Stefan, aged 14, Yurka, aged
16 and Vasil, aged 18 all go to school in Sungurlare and they get support
from the Leva Foundation. The scholarships are money to support the children and it means that they can buy additional school tools and breakfast in
the mornings. Yurka also attends a dancing group and the Leva Foundation
pays for special equipment for her dancing.
Radka wants to go on working for Vinex Slavyantsi and she hopes her child

ren will get their own houses and that she and her husband will be able to
help them.

Mehmed Ismail is an ethnic Romani and was born in Sungurlare. As a young
man he went to Greece and worked there for seven years, picking olives. It
was seasonal work, giving good money during a short period of time. He
returned to his native country and started working for Vinex Slavyantsi in
2006. His parents are vineyard workers as well, so he knew what working in
a vineyard would entail, being outdoors and meeting a lot of people, which
suits him well.
Another reason why he likes his job is because it is a permanent job. The
wages are good and he gets extra help from Vinex Slavyantsi because he
recently became a widower when his wife Stefka died. He has three children
to care for and the two eldest, Silvia aged 13 and Todor aged 10, go to the
school in Sungurlare and are supported by the Leva Foundation. The child

ren know that the financial support is for them and they can decide what to
do with the money. They buy clothes and extra food during the school days.
The third child Antonio is still a little baby and both Mehmed´s mother and
his sister-in-law help taking care of him while Mehmed is at work.
He works in the winery and his tasks are bottling and perparing pallets.
In the future he might go back to working in the vineyards but keeping his
job and taking care of his three children are his top priorities.

Rumiana Nikolova was born in the town of Karnobat and when she moved
to the region of Sungurlare there were not so many jobs to choose from. She
had no prior experience of working in a vineyard but after nine years in the
fields she thinks she knows everything about working in the vineyard. The
season starts with pruning the vines, binding and green work. After harves

ting there is renovation and construction work of the trellises and then the
season starts all over again with pruning.
Rumiana has two 16-year-old twin daughters, Stefania and Christin. The two
girls have three years left at school and they get scholarships from the Leva
Foundation. They can spend the money as they like, very often on clothes.
The girls are very good at school and one of them wants to be a winemaker
and in that case the Leva Foundation will pay for her education. The other
girl wants to be a nurse.
Rumiana and her husband, Ivan Nikolov, are both ethnic Roma. They live
in the village of Slavyantsi and both work at Vinex Slavyantsi. They are
employed with permanent working contracts. They bought a house in Slavy

antsi in 2010 and when they wanted to renovate the house the bank gave
them the loan for this just because they could show their working contracts.

“A good jobb, great colleagues and a great place to have a lunchbreak.
What more could you wish for?”

“A good jobb, great colleagues and a great place to have a lunchbreak.
What more could you wish for?”

Christo Stefanov used to work for another vineyard in the region but moved
to Vinex Slavyantsi in 2016 because of better pay, regular work and a salary.
He is a very skilled worker and had 12 years of experience before he came
to Vinex Slavyantsi and he is an expert on pruning. During the harvest season he works at the winery with machinery and in the middle of December
he is back in the vineyards.
Christo and his wife Nedka, who works at another winery, have two children, Ivan aged 14 and Nona aged 12. They go to the school in Sungurlare
and get scholarships from the Leva Foundation. They both do well at school
and have good grades. They also use the extra money for clothes and food
during the school day. The girl, Nona, is active in the dancing group at the
House of Culture and the Leva Foundation paid for the special clothes for
her dancing classes.
The family lives in an old Bulgarian house in the village of Slavyantsi. They
have renovated their house and there are just a few things left to do. Christo
wants to stay in the region and go on working for Vinex Slavyantsi.

Güldjan and Erol Hassan were born in Bulgaria, but are not of Roma descent
but of Turkish. They met 19 years ago when they both started working for
Vinex Slavyantsi and later got married. Erol had been in the army and Güldjan, who left school after grade 8 had worked on the small family farm producing tobacco.
They are permanently employed at Vinex Slavyantsi and they both work in
the vineyards with pruning, binding, green work and harvesting. They live in
Karnobat and they have a son, Mustafa, aged 12. The school in Karnobat is
not sponsored by the Leva Foundation but since Mustafa is the son of Vinex
Slavyantsi employees, the Leva Foundation financially supports his schooling. Mustafa has extremely good grades and he wants to become an engineer. If he continues his studies at university he will keep getting support from
the Leva Foundation. If he would like to work for Vinex Slavyantsi in the
future, he will get all his costs covered, an arrangement his parents are very
pleased with.

“A good jobb, great colleagues and a great place to have a lunchbreak.
What more could you wish for?”