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A good idea, funds, courage, a stroke of luck – to mention just a few elements needed to create your own business. There is also a need for a favourable environment to encourage and support entrepreneurs, especially at the beginning of their journey.

One office counter for entrepreneurs

Krakow has been familiar with this idea for years. As part of the Krakow Programme for Supporting Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, the city strives to create ideal conditions for the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, on the one hand offering professional information and advice, and on the other, promoting entrepreneurship and learning about the needs of people running their own businesses. One of the newest municipal programmes includes not only the organisation of training, workshops and information meetings but also researching the expectations and opinions of entrepreneurs and building a support and cooperation network between them.

And entrepreneurs need support, especially in their struggle with one of the biggest and most important challenges on their way – the paperwork. Everybody knows that there is quite a lot of formal requirements in this respect and dealing with numerous documents and regulations requires a lot of knowledge and effort. Even if you have a brilliant idea for a business, you have no choice but to go through this labyrinth.

With this in mind, Krakow, as the first and so far the only commune in Poland, has decided to introduce a solution that would allow handling most of the formalities related to setting up and running a business at a single office counter. POP, i.e. the Entrepreneur Service Point, has been helping hundreds of entrepreneurs for nearly 17 years, and the amount of information/advice provided in the single year of 2021 is over 18.3 thousand. By phone or in person, at Wielicka 28a street, you can get help with handling technically all things related to running a company, get support and all information on legal and tax obligations, financial support instruments, administrative procedures for entrepreneurs or the requirements for using the codes of the Polish Classification of Activities. You can also count on advice – in POP dedicated counters supporting entrepreneurs are provided, currently filled with people from the Małopolska Branch of the National Chamber of Tax Advisors and the District Bar Association. The Point cooperates with institutions participating in the business registration procedures, so at the information and service counters of the National Social Insurance Company (ZUS) and the Central Statistical Office, all further formalities related to setting up a business can be completed.

The virtual Clerk – virtual, but useful!

All registration formalities in CEIDG are also available online, on the Point’s website (business.krakow.pl/pop). The website has already been visited by over 1.8 million people. Interestingly, since 2018, another national-level novelty has been available – the Virtual Clerk, which, using artificial intelligence, allows you to intuitively search for information in the field of business services (including setting up your own business) and procedures and services for entrepreneurs provided by the City Hall Krakow and other municipal organizational units.

On the one hand, the Virtual Clerk was to improve cooperation between the office, the resident and the entrepreneur, and on the other, to facilitate setting up a business for young people who prefer to do things online. The idea turned out to be a great success – in 2021 alone, the number of calls made using the Virtual Clerk amounted to 10,898 (as of the end of October), and the particularly appreciated advantages of the solution are the ease and speed of reaching the requested information, as well as the 24-hour service availability. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in Polish and English, also in the mobile version. The latest solution, which has been available since the beginning of December, is the Virtual Officer application for Android smartphones. Every resident of Krakow (and not only) can install the application on a mobile phone for free and use it any time and anywhere.

Encourage to start a business

Instilling an entrepreneurial spirit in the youngest generation is also an important issue. Hence, among others, My First Business competition was organised, the aim of which is not only to popularise knowledge but also to stimulate the activity of young people, so that they have the courage and willingness to materialise their ideas and start their own businesses. It is also a good idea to stimulate creativity, cooperation and dialogue. The POPs are also active in this field.

– Students and graduates of Krakow universities and graduates of post-primary schools are well-educated people who know foreign languages, are active and willing to act, often with a firm determination to start their own businesses. Young people have often great ideas for their own business, but they are less familiar with the bureaucratic complexities associated with setting up and running a business. They are also not fully aware of the support tools for companies provided by the City of Krakow – say the representatives of the Krakow municipality, which since 2007, under agreements with the authorities of Krakow universities, conducts a wide information and promotion campaign for young people on the possibilities related to setting up companies in Krakow. Hence, among others, a series of presentations entitled „6 reasons why you should start a business in Krakow" were organised. So far, over 13,000 have participated in the presentations.

Foreigners are also encouraged to set up a business, and there are more and more of them in the capital of Małopolska. And since registering a company in a foreign country can be a very complex procedure, POP has created another innovative solution on a national level – the possibility of using the services provided by an entrepreneurship consultant in several languages, Russian, Ukrainian and English, directly and by phone. Through the consultant, the foreigners can also use the services of institutions supporting entrepreneurs, i.e. the Małopolska Branch of the National Chamber of Tax Advisors and the District Bar Associations.

From April to the end of November this year, more than 300 foreigners contacted the consultant and 141 applications for entry in CEIDG were submitted (mostly Ukrainian citizens).

Combining science with business

At the same time, Krakow encourages foreigners to set up their own businesses here through electronic presentations. The presentations were attended, among others, by students of Polish studies at the University of Lviv, employees of Ukrainian educational institutions, an organization associating Belarusians in Poland and the Department of Education System Management at the Luhansk Institute of Postgraduate Pedagogical Education. Information campaigns were also carried out, among others at this year’s Belarusian Picnic at the Krakus Mound and cooperation was also established with the recently organised Information Point for Foreigners at Daszyńskiego Alley 22 (the seat of the Internationaler Bund Polska Foundation).

In July this year, the Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovation signed an agreement with the Krakow University of Technology, aimed at promoting Krakow as not only a science and education centre but also a centre of entrepreneurship, encouraging foreigners to study in the capital of Małopolska. As a result, a group of 29 Belarusians who were afraid of returning to the country due to the difficult political situation came to Krakow in August. They are all K. Kalinowski (Solidarity with Belarus) scholarship holders, and at the beginning of their stay in Krakow, they took a preparatory course to prepare them for studies conducted in Polish. The Krakow University of Technology has been organizing the curses of Polish for 35 years, teaching the language and advising on issues such as obtaining a visa, insurance or choosing a course and university.

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