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

The Ethnic Non-Food Entrepreneur - Poland - 1

It is very rare to acquire anything for free nowadays, especially in the case of services relating to law, administration and finance. However, Mr D, who came from India, is a great example of an exception to that rule. He and his company, often without payment, guide people through the hardships associated with staying in a foreign country. They offer a lifeline for those people who have encountered problems that exceed their capabilities. Mr D has an office located in the basement of his private home. The office itself is functional. There are no paintings on the walls but it is newly finished; some oak furniture and leather seats provide an element of interior design.

Mr D came to Poland in search of work. Together with his colleague he decided to try his luck in Europe, which led them to our country. At first, Mr D believed that the English name of our country indicated another European country – Holland, which is supposed to be the “promised land” for Indians when it comes to job vacancies. However, he soon realized that Poland is situated in quite a different place – between Russia and Germany, which slightly discouraged the travelers. Still, with hope for a better future they decided to arrive here. The first work that Mr D got here in Poland was a position in a marketing company. As the years went by and after numerous contacts with Poles, Mr D learned the Polish language, customs and manners. Experience and contacts gained this way allowed him to open his own business, which he has successfully run for over 5 years. His company is divided into three sectors – import / export of textiles from India, brokerage and financial - accounting, and consultancy. Import and export was the first idea but while this aspect of his business grew and he explored new markets, Mr D spotted other opportunities and expanded his business into other areas.

He spent quite a lot of time resolving problems concerning all sorts of offices while setting up his own business. He believes that our system in not conducive to new businesses. He listed our vast bureaucracy, the huge amount of paperwork required by the Polish Social Insurance Institution and other offices such as the Central Statistical Office. Furthermore he mentions high labour costs, especially pension and health insurance, contributions to the Labour Fund used to finance unemployment benefits and contributions to the Fund of Guaranteed Employee Benefits.

Mr D believes that to start making money in Poland one must first have some capital. The government is not interested in entrepreneurs, in his opinion, although it should be due to the fact that they are the ones providing for the GDP (Gross Domestic Product). The delay in any payments is also an important issue. During the crisis, many small and medium-sized businesses struggle with financial problems resulting from too much warehouse stock and a market which is too small, which makes it much harder to be up to date with paying all the charges due to government. All it takes is just a couple of days of delay and the authorities almost instantly demand what is theirs, often being very firm in enforcing compliance – they enter accounts or take over the company’s fixed assets. These activities often contribute to the bankruptcy of companies. Government offices instead of supporting the companies just put another nail in their coffin. They should not try to make money out of such companies but in Mr Ds point of view, that is exactly how things are. Mr D confronts these challenges.

He is not only an entrepreneur, but also a “helping hand” and a friend to many foreigners. He happily provides information related to changes in Polish law, helps out with the formalities and serves as a translator. Many people who come to Poland go straight to Mr D for advice with their first steps here. Mr D helps them find apartments, negotiates terms of contracts, helps writing CV’s and looking for work. After many years of working in the Polish market, he knows all the loopholes in the law and is able to establish when unfair practices are taking place. Mr D explained that as he has been ‘ripped off’ a number of times, his goal is to protect other foreigners against such events. It is worth mentioning that Mr D often does all these things free of charge. Obviously, when it comes to providing accountancy services for companies or dealing with finance – these are paid services, but Mr D never refuses to help a person in need. When asked if his goodness is addressed only towards foreigners he replied that the nationality and skin tone are irrelevant. Only the fact that a person is in need of help and it is our human responsibility to help others. 

Education and Culture Lifelong Learning Programme
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