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Home > Life Stories > The Ethnic Food Entrepreneur - Poland - 1

The Ethnic Food Entrepreneur - Poland - 1

Mr P was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in West Africa and lived there for almost 20 years. About ten years ago he came to Poland to study. He graduated from the School of Polish for Foreigners at the University of Lodz, and then studied business administration in the Faculty of Management and specialized in marketing. As he spent his first years in the student dormitory this allowed him to learn Polish customs and language sufficiently.

The first job he took was manual work in the Gillette Company. This did not last long. During his stay in Poland he missed one thing greatly; his native dishes from Western Africa. This generated the idea for his first business; opening a restaurant serving regional, African dishes. In the beginning, he coped with all the formalities all by himself and later on he got help from his wife who is Polish.

Mr P does not have any major problems in running his business. He primarily complains about the number and dispersal of offices such as the City Hall, Tax Office, Statistical Office and Social Insurance Institution. He believes that all these institutions should be located near each other. He remembers that the Polish government promised the launch of “one stop” institutions for people establishing their companies. In his opinion, another disadvantage of starting business in Poland is the fact that the state does not support young entrepreneurs. He mentioned positive experiences of his colleagues who left DRC to live in France. In their opinion that country provides a lot of help to encourage and support entrepreneurs; even those from other countries.

His first step in opening a restaurant was to bring his friends to help. Mr P hired one as a cook. Together they invented the dishes and designed the menu. He brought all sorts of memorabilia and gadgets from Congo which he currently uses as part of the interior design of the restaurant. The music and exotic ornaments make the customers feel as though they are experiencing the atmosphere of West Africa. This restaurant is not Mr P’s only business. He also runs an art agency and is keen to promote young and talented people (some pieces of art may be found in his restaurant).

Mr P felt he did not have adequate knowledge and information about the various types of support available for entrepreneurs such as incubators, technology park or business angels. He heard about the possibility of applying for European Union help via funds from the Labour Office, and even applied but without success. In his opinion foreigners from outside European Union who set up companies in Poland have no chance in applying for grants in the various competitions. All these aspects contributed to fact that Mr P sees Poland as an unattractive country for potential entrepreneurs, immigrants and he definitely does not recommend it to his friends who might think of taking chances in business. 

Education and Culture Lifelong Learning Programme
© 2011 ELIE Project
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.