Ewa Erdmann, a Poole-based translator, who set up a networking group to help fellow entrepreneurs, is now having to adapt to cater for the growing Polish community in the South West. Despite Poland achieving economic stability and financial help being more accessible than ever before, Ewa believes that there still is a long way to go to offer support to small companies. Business opportunities are on the rise but people trading outside Poland’s big cities are still struggling. A great number of Poles who come to the UK are well educated, highly qualified, hardworking and ambitious, eventually working their way up the career ladder, with many of those who started in a factory or as kitchen porters now working as managers, consultants and solicitors. Ewa points out that Poles are still being stigmatised and perhaps discriminated against but that this is becoming a less frequent occurrence.
‘Many of those who started in a factory or as kitchen porters now work as managers, consultants and solicitors’ – said Ewa Erdmann
Ewa, a relative newcomer, with five years in the UK under her belt spent the first year studying Law and then set up her own freelance translation business. The idea to set up a specialised networking group came about when she realised that there was an increasing need for Poles to meet and explore the benefits of face-to-face networking. “I noticed that there were no such groups within the Polish community and therefore some of the companies were missing out on the opportunity to establish valuable contacts and help develop their businesses. I decided to set up my own group, Polish Businesses in Bournemouth, but we are now considering changing the name to Polish Businesses South as we are expanding.” The population of people born outside the UK in Bournemouth rose 108.5 per cent between 2001 and 2011, with residents born in Poland being the most numerous non-UK group born in the South West of England. Previous surveys and administrative data have shown that Polish emigrants are highly educated and normally perform work below their qualifications but this is changing fast. However, the networking group members range from creative types such as local photographers, through to e-commerce and construction companies, with some of them employing up to twenty people. The group sets out to give back to the community, by creating jobs as well as setting up local apprenticeship placements for students and graduates, while constantly developing and growing their businesses to stimulate the local economy. “Our members support each other by exchanging information related to local business and their respective industries. We share tips on marketing, social media and customer service. First of all, however, we are there for each other, recommending our businesses. We also help each other to understand and adapt to the British market in order to excel at meeting our customer’s needs. We look to encourage others to set up their own businesses by sharing insight and knowledge,” said Ewa.
‘The group is a good idea as it allows people with a similar background and experience to sit down together and exchange opinions’ – said Tomas Karbowiak
Tomas Karbowiak, Managing Director of Eco Group Ltd, said: ” I found out about the group through the Facebook page. I have three years of experience in managing and running my own business and can offer advice to people wanting to grow or set up their own. I think that the group is a good idea as it allows people with a similar background and experience to sit down together and exchange opinions on business related matters.” “It is a nice way to get together and learn from each other. I believe that I give back to the community by offering fellow entrepreneurs valuable, free advice from someone who has experience. I am also led to believe that the masterclasses and marketing sessions that I have run have helped businesses to understand the basics. The group allows you to be part of something very unique,” says Tomasz Dyl, Managing Director at GottaBe!