In the Bulgarian way of life and culture the Gabrovo man has his reserved place. The inhabitants of this city are known for their thrift, stinginess and cunning. Contrary to these beliefs, the richest man in Bulgarian history with a fortune of over 1,082,582,000 levs, the largest donor and the man who built countless buildings for the benefit of society, is Gabrovo.
Every rule has an exception and Pencho Semov is the proof of this statement.
On October 8, 1873, in the village of Tsvyatkovski (Gabrovo), little Pencho was born. His father was a cloth merchant, and from an early age his son traveled with him, learning the craft firsthand.
Ambitious to prove himself, he moved to Tutrakan as a teenager, where he successfully developed his father’s business. Accumulates capital, which immediately invests in new projects. Semov is a genius of entrepreneurship and in a short time his wealth multiplied.
Unfortunately, his fate deals an insidious blow – his wife and two children die of tuberculosis, and their death leaves a mark on their hearts. A few years later, he remarried, continuing to reap success with his endeavors.
An exceptional patriot, leader and kind man at heart, his achievements are far from being in just one field. We present you some of them, as well as interesting stories told by his fellow citizens.
Under the age of 30, Pencho Semov is a shareholder in more than 25 companies across the country. With its Success textile factory, it has become one of the largest entrepreneurs in Europe, producing more than 15 tonnes of fabrics a year. His companies provided for disability pensions. In addition, he had no reception hours and each of his employees could share their problems with him and count on help, and on major holidays he organized common meals at which everyone sat together – both workers and shareholders.
He even built holiday resorts for his employees – a rarity in those years. He provided education for their children abroad and even built modern buildings to serve as a nursing home when his staff grew old.
An interesting story is told by his contemporaries. His worker asked him to lend him money to build a house for his family. He promised that the loan would be repaid two years later. In the second year, the worker brought a bag of coins and handed them to his benefactor. Semov took them, counted them and returned them to him with the words: “It is enough for me that you are honest. Now you need furniture – take them away. “Pencho Semov played an extremely important role in the signing of the Treaty of Neuilly. Initially, a large part of our territory would have been taken away. Semov sent a donation of 300,000 gold levs to two prominent Catholic priests with a request to lobby for Bulgaria.
Thanks to this case, cities like Blagoevgrad, Plovdiv, Stara Zagora are still Bulgarian.
He entered into personal negotiations with Churchill, asking Gabrovo and the surrounding area not to be bombed. In 1925, the wife of a small shareholder shot at him, but he refused to file a lawsuit against her. His childhood dream of having a ship came true by building a building in this shape in the vicinity of Gabrovo – one of the symbols of the city. The building served as a boarding house for the daughters of his workers. Completely free, of course. Today it is a hospital for lung diseases. It invests large sums in the fight against tuberculosis. He opened the first homeless shelter in Sofia, as well as free public canteens. His noble activity is endless. Semov, also known as the Bulgarian Rockefeller, supports thousands of families, finances and builds schools, orphanages and nursing homes
He built the first tennis courts in our country. In total, the donations he makes amount to over BGN 250 million. His death wish was for the foundation he founded to manage his endeavors and for all proceeds to go to charity.
This did not happen due to the fact that his enterprises were nationalized and his property was confiscated by the state. Even his wife was evicted from their home on the grounds that this house was no longer theirs.
Today, what Pencho Semov created is sinking into ruin. The donor died in 1945.
After his death he was deliberately not mentioned and was doomed to complete oblivion.
In 2008, however, vigilant citizens built a monument to him in Gabrovo and recall the story of the man with a big heart. People worship his memory and deeds!