Empowering Women Entrepreneurship: Unveiling Poland’s Support Ecosystem

In focus: Some government initiatives, schemes & grants for women entrepreneurs in Poland

Poland, a nation that has undergone remarkable political and economic transformations, embarked on a journey of free markets in 1990. These pivotal changes fostered an enterprise culture, allowing Polish entrepreneurs to explore opportunities, take calculated risks, and seek profits. Alongside, societal shifts have played a crucial role in motivating potential entrepreneurs, including women, to dive into the world of business.

#WomenEntrepreneurs #PolandBusiness #Empowerment #GrantsAndSchemes

In this dynamic blend of economic reform, social evolution & cultural shifts, women entrepreneurs in Poland have found their right spot. The newly minted market environment has opened doors to numerous opportunities, enabling women to shine in the entrepreneurial landscape. Poland’s success story has not only inspired change within its borders but has also resonated across Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

As the number of women entrepreneurs continues to increase, it becomes imperative to study their performance, motivations and objectives in this evolving landscape. Join us on a journey to unravel the government schemes, grants & initiatives that are propelling Poland’s women entrepreneurs towards success.

#WomenInBusiness #Empowerment #EntrepreneurshipJourney #BusinessSupport

> Promoting entrepreneurship in Poland

Promoting entrepreneurship in Poland is done in many ways, such as –

i) Contests that promote entrepreneurship, ii) Direct promotional campaigns, iii) Information in media, press and entrepreneurship guides (published by PARP, various ministries and other institutions involved in entrepreneurship promotion) & iv) Conferences, seminars are organized by various institutions, governmental agencies and NGOs.

Many of these initiatives aim to counter stereotypes, including for eg, businesses run by women. Various entrepreneurship and business competitions take place – to promote, and to reward and showcase successful entrepreneurs.

Promotional campaigns are organized occasionally and include several television campaigns – eg the International Advertising Agency (IAA) organized the “Equality of labour market opportunities for men and women” and “Have it your own way – entrepreneurship” campaigns; other examples include – the informational campaign “Use your head, start your own business” produced under the auspices of PARP and the Ministry of Economic Development, and “My Polish dream”, broadcasted on the MTV station.

There are also many networking initiatives arranged by the private sector alone or together with local authorities, eg – incubators for highly educated people (like Technological Incubator operating in Krakow Technology Park). Some efforts to develop an entrepreneurial culture are targeted at specific groups. For example, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education introduced a new act on innovation and commercialization – to encourage undergraduate and graduate students to start their own businesses and to commercialize research.

> Small Grants Schemes for Female Enterprises

Small Grants Schemes for Female Enterprises aims to boost financial assistance and development for small or medium-sized enterprises run by women.

The Small Grant Scheme “Small Grants Schemes for Female Enterprises” is targeted at financing pro-innovative services (including research), and is directed at mentoring and investments supporting the implementation and development of process or product innovation in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises run by women. Another angle is that the projects should also contribute to establishing and strengthening cooperation between Polish female entrepreneurs and Norwegian entities.


> Entrepreneurship First

One of the elements of new economic strategy Enterprise Development Work was the Package Entrepreneurship First, which was drawn up based on proposals for legislative solutions, submitted by the different Ministries and organizations of entrepreneurs.

Regulations contained in the package Entrepreneurship First, proposed conveniences in the undertaking & conducting business activity; removal of bureaucratic obstacles and simplification of procedures; introduction of more friendly tax rules and regulations and more flexible labour law – all of which should bring about a significant improvement of the condition of entrepreneurs. They should also stimulate economy and increase employment. All the entrepreneurs, regardless of their gender, should be able to make use of all remaining solutions approved in the package.


> #SheMeansBusiness programme

This training programme was introduced by Facebook in Poland – to help female entrepreneurs build an online presence and use digital tools to promote their businesses.

Launched in Warsaw, the #SheMeansBusiness programme plans to train 720 Polish business owners over the coming year, according to Forbes; it also encourages women to be inspired to be creative and bold when running their own businesses.

This is a space where they will foster valuable connections with other female leaders, share their knowledge and move forward together. The scheme is built around a series of workshops – promoting business tools available on Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram, and takes place in five Polish cities: Warsaw, Gdynia, Poznań, Kraków and Wrocław.

The programme is run under the patronage of the Ministry of Development and the Ministry of Digitization, in partnership with the Entrepreneurial Women’s Network (Sieć Przedsiębiorczych Kobiet), a foundation.


> The Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology

Two ministries are mainly responsible for issues related to economic development and entrepreneurship in Poland: the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology and the Ministry of Investment and Development. The former is responsible for SMEs, entrepreneurship and innovation, especially technological innovation; and the latter is responsible for the economy and its sustainable development. As such, entrepreneurship policy is largely under the responsibility of the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology. The Ministry aims to create an environment that is conducive to entrepreneurship – by improving access to capital, promoting the value of entrepreneurial mind-sets, strengthening the institutional environment and improving the availability of industrial intelligence.

The responsibilities of The Ministry of Investment and Development includes – implementing the Strategy for Responsible Development (SOR), and also co-ordinating and promoting European funds that support Polish businesses and Polish entrepreneurship; it is also responsible for the Entrepreneurial Eastern Poland programme, which supports micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) operating in the tourism industry in Eastern Poland (a region that is relatively poorer than the rest of the country). Entrepreneurship policy is also shaped by the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy, the Ministry of National Education, and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

The Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy is also in charge of policies that support the labour market participation of social target groups that face barriers, especially entrepreneurship among the unemployed, senior entrepreneurship, women’s entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship among people who experience disability and youth entrepreneurship. The development of entrepreneurship education has been one of the recent priorities in secondary education, for which the Ministry of National Education is responsible. In fact, 2017 marked the 15th anniversary of entrepreneurship being taught in schools in Poland. The “Basics of Entrepreneurship” is included as a separate obligatory subject in the curricula of all secondary schools; and a supplementary subject entitled “Economics in Practice” was also introduced in secondary schools in 2012. It aims to introduce pupils to the realities of a market economy, preparing them for entering the labour market.

Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (PARP)

One of the most prominent results of the role of entrepreneurship in the long-term strategic framework has been the development of the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (PARP). Created in 2000, the Agency manages national and EU funds mainly for – fostering entrepreneurship, innovation and human resources development.

PARP is responsible for the implementation of activities under three operational programmes over 2014-20: (i) Operational Programme Smart Development (PO IR); (ii) Operational Programme Knowledge, Education, Development (PO WER); and (iii) Operational Programme Eastern Poland (PO PW).

The Agency also organizes promotional activities and undertakes research on entrepreneurship in Poland.

Regional Operational Programmes

There are currently no dedicated national policies related to women entrepreneurship support at the national level, however some Regional Operational Programmes include measures to support women in business (eg RPO Województwo Łodzkie offers intensive support to women over 29 years old on the labour market).

Significantly, there are numerous commercial and non-commercial institutions that support women entrepreneurship, such as – PARP (which publishes a series of reports entitled Women Entrepreneurship in Poland), PKPP Lewiatan (a partner of the Gender Index in Poland), the Network of Entrepreneurial Women, the Club of Entrepreneurial Women and the Polish Network of Women Entrepreneurship Ambassadors. There are also various programmes supporting women entrepreneurship – including the FemStart programme financed by the European Commission.

Entrepreneurship promotions

A number of entrepreneurship promotion efforts focus and target women, including Entrepreneurial Woman – a national project by the Academic Business Forum Centre Club created specifically for women who want to develop and acquire new skills and draw inspiration from successful business owners. The programme has events and networks that facilitate information exchanges. In addition, several NGOs manage women’s entrepreneurship networks, eg the Entrepreneurial Women Network, the Polish Network of Women Entrepreneurship Ambassadors, and the International Women Forum. However, it is seen that some more action is needed – to address gender stereotypes and show that entrepreneurship is not a “male” activity and that women can be successful in entrepreneurship.


> The Women’s Entrepreneurship Foundation

The Women’s Entrepreneurship Foundation has been running programmes targeted at women. They help women establish their own businesses, gain external financing and enter new markets. The Foundation has initiated and supported a thriving business networking community (the “Entrepreneurial Women Network”), runs its own acceleration program (“Business in women’s hands”), and supports the activities of women business angels.


> EmPOWERed in Business

Apart from workshops run by experts, the project also offers educational grants & subsidies. It is open to women who are, or want to become, entrepreneurs. The goal of the “EmPOWERed in Business” (“MOCne w biznesie”) initiative is – to motivate and support women in starting and growing their businesses. The “EmPOWERed in Business” programme is a joint initiative of Santander Bank Polska and the Polish Entrepreneurs Foundation.

It was to address the issue of gender gap, when it comes to entrepreneurship, that they launched the “EmPOWERed in business” initiative, which is an inspiring project open to all women who want to develop their skills, invest in themselves and broaden their horizons.

The scheme is open to enterprising women who have the chance to develop their knowledge and skills during workshops with inspirational female leaders.


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