• Julia Doitchinova Business faculty, UNWE
  • Zornitsa Stoyanova Business faculty, UNWE
  • Hristina Harizanova-Bartos Business faculty, UNWE


The LEADER approach has an important role for strengthening and the development of local communities and for stimulating innovations and innovative practices in rural areas.  The aim of this paper is to analyze and evaluate the LEADER approach as an innovative approach and on this basis to prepare general conclusions about the innovative development of rural areas in Bulgaria. The local active group (LAG) is interpreted as an innovative "coordinating" activity and it is the core of the innovation system that solves conflicts, and creates and implements local strategies for rural development. The LEADER and the Community – led local development approaches introduce innovative practices for Bulgarian conditions in order to improve local governance and facilitate innovations. The main contributions of the LEADER and the Community approaches are related to: the establishment of local active groups in different network structures of partnership; activating stakeholders, broadcasting leaders and improving coordination between them; establishing local expertise and administrative capacities; support for business organizations, local authorities and the non-governmental sector in the development and management of innovative projects. The factors that influence the success of the LEADER approach and its importance for rural development in each country differ in their administrative, socio-economic, historical and cultural contexts. Bulgarian LAGs continue to implement the Community – led local development approach (CLLDA) in the process of adapting to the specific conditions of rural areas.

The results are part of scientific project DN 15/8 2017 Sustainable multifunctional rural areas: reconsidering agricultural models and systems with increased demands and limited resources funded by the Bulgarian research fund.