The world is filled with bestselling authors, you need only walk through your local bookstore to be immersed in a sea of them. But few of these writers, no matter the heroics they create in their stories, are real-life heroes. There are few who not only travel the world as tourists, but also live, adapt and thrive successfully in these different environments. There are few who move from place to place, starting from zero each time only to claw their way to the top. The writing community is famously introverted, with many authors preferring to seek escapism in the worlds they created, but that is not the case with Iliyan Kuzmanov, the man who left the comfort of his multi-million-dollar business in London to become a social activist in Bulgaria.
Iliyan is not your typical intellectual author. He is not melancholic. He has balls, he is full of spirit, and he is a real heavyweight fighter. But why do we not see many people like Iliyan today? Why do we only seem to find one-side-of-the-coin businesspeople who are egocentric, social workers and activists who do not know the value of money, journalists who are nothing more than vocal critics and writers who just re-tell stories but never see the world in its true colours? The world is not a formula and Iliyan is more aware of that fact than anyone.
Let’s go step by step and dissect this very rare individual, Iliyan Kuzmanov…
What does social business mean?
Social business is an innovative hybrid that combines all the best of business and social work, the best instrument to fight both corruption and bureaucratic inefficiency. Social business solves the biggest problem with the NGO sector, which has become like a quasi-government where some people are spending other people’s money. The social entrepreneur, first of all, learns what it takes to be a true businessman, then they start spending their money reasonably in order to make a social change. The world is filled with big business people who make billions and then pledge to give it up. However, even when they give away 99%, that is only being spent by other people, creating another socialist bureaucracy. The social businessperson is in the field all the time, fighting against any form of inefficiency. Let’s be honest, is that not the core idea behind capitalism? Not to strive to be equal, but to create business, to be free, and most importantly, to lift others by showing them how.
What kind of place is Bulgaria?
Bulgaria is a former communist country that remains in political crisis for the past 18 months. According to Transparency International, Bulgaria is very corrupt, with almost no freedom of speech, for which it is ranked 112th in the world. Bulgaria has the lowest vaccination rate in Europe, and an infamous anti-vaxxer has even been elected recently. Traditional beliefs are preventing the country from adopting any pro-West reforms in human rights agendas, such as sexuality, racism, women rights, and domestic violence. We now have a lone wolf, fearlessly defending our core values, trying to show that business means freedom. But he is not alone anymore, many know his story, and many read his first book, and he continues to punch above his weight in the pursuit of change.
What kind of person is Iliyan?
Iliyan Kuzmanov has his own brand of frenzy style, but he also oozes intellect, vision, creativity and imagination. According to his Mensa UK IQ score, Iliyan is one of the most intelligent people in the world, sitting at 162, 10 entire points above Einstein. He is a writer who is able to create fairy tale worlds, but he also has academic foundations behind him, including a law degree from Bulgaria, a History and Economics agree from Canada, as well as a degree in finance. Iliyan has conducted political media analysis in Iran, Afghanistan, Russia, China, and the UK with the consistent vision of an Oracle. He is a decision-maker who managed to set up his own multi-million-dollar businesses, with a level of insight that few in his field possesses. Like a virus, although no COVID-19, Iliyan is adaptable to any situation, fast and lethal, found in every corner of the world with a flawless track record. In terms of management and leadership, his 600 private house portfolio in London speaks volumes.
How did Iliyan Kuzmanov get started?
In order to start Iliyan Kuzmanov’s story, we must first go back to the Ottoman entrepreneurs and their trade traditions. The people who were a part of the independent Bulgaria, the people who built schools, churches, libraries, the war heroes of WWI, the people who saved lives and won honours.
At 23-years-old, Iliyan chose to make his own path and moved to Canada to prove his worth. All of his beliefs and principles were trialled by fire following his move and each failure was the beginning of something new for him.
Iliyan once said: “To learn that there is a really different world, and to start dreaming stronger!”
His first job in Canada was at a social centre where he worked as a coordinator in a project helping the families of immigrants. Once again, he was standing tall against racism. In Canada, Iliyan spent much of his time studying at university and was a PA to one of the Liberal candidates for Montreal mayor, Marie Jose Mastermonaco.
Why the UK and how did he make it work?
After his time in Canada, Iliyan decided to move to London for a few months. At this point, he experienced his first real taste of bankruptcy, after coming to Canada with not a lot of money and then moving countries once again. When he arrived in the UK, Iliyan had nothing more than around $20 in his pocket. In his first month in England, he opened a company and by month three, he had multiple employees. While he had initially planned to stay for just three months, two years later he was earning real money. By year three, his cash injection allowed him to finally do what he loved, social business financed by his main company, project EZO. This was a bistro and library with more than 3,000 books, while also serving as a local community space for helping the homeless, hosting art functions and more.
Why did he decide to travel?
This is not entirely clear, although a lot of it revolves around one mysterious woman. He visited her with some of the best doctors from around the world – they even spent some time with the Dalai Lama’s personal doctor. Iliyan went through plenty of adventures, trials and tribulation to try and save this one woman who he barely knew, fuelled by a desire to help her. The story has the nuances of crime, and every twist and turn helped to shape Iliyan and push him to write what eventually became a best-seller.
How and why did he return to Bulgaria?
Iliyan had changed a lot in his time away from Bulgaria, but he knew he had to return and fight for the change he wanted to see. He knew it would not be easy, but nothing worth having ever is.
What makes his social business different from all the rest?
In terms of business in Bulgaria, Iliyan Kuzmanov’s is certainly unique. In a place with huge misuse of public funding and EU money, heavy communist-style bureaucracy, and wild west style business relations, he is not only spending his own money, but demonstrating what active citizenship means, what the core values of democracy are, and the morals and ethics behind capitalism and business. He is revealing what personal choice means and the ideas behind individualism. There is definitely no one like him in Bulgaria; he is one of a kind.
What are the current projects?
Iliyan Kuzmanov had a cultural exchange project in Bulgaria that started with the Gypsy minorities. His publishing house launched by publishing his own best-seller. One of Iliyan’s most vocal projects was called Project Maria, which fought against human trafficking. However, his main current project comes in the Bulgarian prison system and revolves around the Ministry of Justice. Production, education and art are not only sustainable but also have the potential for further growth, something that was included as academic research in Pakistan when looking at how social business can solve problems in underdeveloped countries. His most recent campaign came in the form of a vaccination project, promoting the COVID-19 vaccine across Bulgaria.
Iliyan Kuzmanov – The Journey
This is only a small piece of the Iliyan Kuzmanov story. There are many people across the world who know him for different achievements, but he remains on his own journey. He is a pilgrim, but not the most peaceful and tranquil of one. Perhaps it is a combination of all of this that makes him a best-selling author, but these moments certainly make him a great man.
Why are the most successful people always dropouts? Why the most successful people are the dropouts? We speak about the crazy ones, the misfits, the rabble, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the naughty kids on the block. Iliyan Kuzmanov is an absolute example of that. He quit, he went broke, he rose, he went broke, he chased his dreams and took risks without having any money to fall back on. He even committed crimes in the name of love. He invested all of his money to save the life of another. He made a stand against corruption, he pursued his dreams, he stood tall against a corrupted system, he painted the outside of the box. Iliyan Kuzmanov is not the socialist echelon of an excellent student, but he learned, and he did it. Remember his name, ladies and gentlemen. You can do anything you put your mind to. You can be positive. The only thing you cannot do is ignore Iliyan Kuzmanov because he is the change. He is intelligent enough and just crazy enough to change the world.