3.9 Start-up funding for young entrepreneurs
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Start-ups in Poland
In terms of the number of companies (1.7 million), Poland ranks sixth among EU countries, with 45 companies per 1 000 inhabitants. This result is lower than the EU-28 average (48 companies), we are ranked 21st among Member States in this respect (Eurostat 2016 for Startups in Poland 2019, PARP, p. 32). This means that the potential to create companies is still untapped. Research on startups and young companies in Poland (in 2017-2018) identified five key factors holding adult Poles back from starting a company (ibidem, p. 32)
lack of confidence in own skills (43%);
lack of organisational and business management skills necessary to start a business (40%);
lack of capital for start-up (40%);
lack of industry and specialist knowledge necessary to start up a business (37%);
lack of an idea for a business (33%).
Difficulties in setting up and maintaining a company in Poland result in the fact that the dominant group among start-up owners are people of mature age. The average start-up owner is a 38-year-old man with higher education, from a family of four. He is a person who has an idea for a business and wants to use the experience gained in his previous job. The main motive for starting a business is to gain independence and increase personal income. For the development of the start-up, he uses mainly his own funds, as well as other sources of financing (ibidem, p. 4-5). It is worth noting, however, that among owners of startups based on new technologies (introduced in the last 5 years) a quarter are young people (25% are aged 18-34, 75% are 35-64 years old), while among startups based on old technologies the share of young people is lower (18% are aged 18-34, 82% are 35-64 years old), (ibidem., p. 10).
Information on how to set up a business and source funding is widely available, and can be located on various websites, including those of the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology (Ministerstwo Rozwoju i Technologii), and the Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy (Ministerstwo Funduszy i Polityki Regionalnej), the Ministry of Family and Social Policy (Ministerstwo Rodziny i Polityki Społecznej), the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (Polska Agencja Rozwoju Przedsiębiorczości), Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego (The National Development Bank), Employment Offices, Student Career Centres, business incubators, regional and local entrepreneurship support centres, entrepreneurship foundations and associations.
Many of those entities provide information and support upon personal contact.
The website of the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology (Ministerstwo Rozwoju i Technologii) includes information on loan and guarantee funds, grants, economic zones and Corporate Social Responsibility.
The Ministry of Family and Social Policy has launched the Youth Guarantee Initiative website.
Information regarding the forms of assistance when starting a business is available on the websites of provincial and district Employment Offices and through the Green Line service (i.e. electronic and telephone service centre for clients of Employment Offices from all over Poland):
The website of Academic Business Incubators (Akademickie Inkubatory Przedsiębiorczości) provides information and a contact form for interested parties.
The website of Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego contains extensive information about the loan scheme for young people provided by the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy - “First Business – Start-up Support”:
The access to capital to start business is available from several sources. :
The “First Business – Start-up Support” scheme of the Ministry of Family and Social Policy is implemented by Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego.
The aim of the scheme is to develop entrepreneurship and create new jobs. Funds for the implementation of the scheme come from the Labour Fund.
A loan for starting a business may be granted to:
Final year students in higher education institutions
Graduates of a higher education institution within 4 years from the date of graduation or receiving their vocational qualification
The loan amount is PLN 106 629,40 (as of 1 June 2020). These are low-interest loans. Repayment period is up to 7 years. Borrowers who have obtained a business start-up loan may benefit from free consultancy and training services. As of 22.11.2021, the name of the programme was changed, i.e. the name: Programme "First Business - Support in start-up II" was replaced with: "Government Programme First Business - Support at Start". From 2022, a loan of up to 99 000 PLN can be obtained, from 2023 up to 129 PLN.
Academic Business Incubators (Akademickie Inkubatory Przedsiębiorczości)
Academic Business Incubators were established in 2004. The goal was to create a place in Poland where one could start a business and acquire support without huge risk. The offer is mainly for students, but can also be availed of by other people.
Academic Business Incubators offer the possibility of setting up a Trial Company, without registering a business. The pre-incubation model (Non-ZUS Business) involves using the legal personality of Academic Business Incubators by first-time entrepreneurs for the purpose of setting up their business.
In addition to accounting and legal support, the offer includes using the offices of Academic Business Incubators, consultations with experts, training, mentor support, and other support.
In 2005, the nationwide network of Academic Business Incubators had 12 incubators, while in 2015 there were 56.
In 2006, there were 300 start-ups in the Incubators. In 2015, there were 2,300.
Academic Business Incubators is Europe’s leading start-up organisation, setting trends in Poland and abroad, which, together with the Business Link network and the Seed Capital fund, forms a start-up ecosystem comparable to the Google ecosystem.
Since 2004, thanks to Academic Business Incubators, more than 12,000 companies have been created, including well-known brands such as PhotoBlog.pl, Chomikuj.pl, MISBHV, Key2Print, and Glov.
Employment Offices offer funding support for starting a business (see 3.9) – this is a form of support provided to the unemployed. The amount of funding is specified in a contract, but cannot be higher than 6 times the average salary,(i.e. PLN 25 533 as at December 2017, PLN 29 035 as at September 2019, PLN 31 988 as at June 2020). As of 2022 the highest possible amount of the loan is PLN 36 000, as of 2023 – 38 880. The aid is non-repayable, provided that the conditions specified in the contract are fulfilled.
Those who meet the criteria set out in the Act of 13 June 2003 on Social Employment (Journal of Laws (Dz.U.) of 2003, No. 122, item 1143, as amended) may receive funds for the establishment of a social co-operative (e.g. persons coming out of homelessness, alcohol and drug addicts, mentally ill persons, long-term unemployed, disabled).
Some Employment Offices run schemes which offer funding to young people (aged 18 to 30) for the running of a business. An example is the scheme “Activation of unemployed young people in Warsaw (II)” co-financed by the European Social Fund under the Knowledge Education Development Operational Programme, Sub-measure 1.1.1.