How Have Women In Poland Have Become Pioneers In Entrepreneurship
A large number of businesses in Poland are now being owned by women. The percentages are as high as 20% of all small and medium-enterprises and about 19% for sole proprietorship.
For a country that was torn apart in WWII, the women have definitely carved a niche for themselves.
Many people are astounded by the business sense of Polish women, and few have taken to analysis how have they mastered the art. One of the cynical views is that the women got a very strong footing in the market before the gender discrimination from the West got a chance to hold them back. Another popular opinion is that the skills learnt during the socialist regime where women held so many different job titles had played a greater role as they had learned how to balance professional and personal lives beautifully.
However, one of the major reason for their great success was that these women took the word ‘equality’ quite literally. They stepped into the market in 1989, after the system changed, hungry for more power and with a fierce determination to prove themselves. Many women pulled out the hidden money from under the mattress and from jars to open their businesses focusing mainly on franchising and consulting. These women, without their knowledge, had paved a track for many younger Polish women who will eventually become the future of Poland.
Apart from the great business acumen, the solid background in education had also been an important factor. Polish women from rural and urban areas were engineers, lawyers, doctors and held several key scientific posts. Gradually, they started holding important managerial posts in factories and were also present on the factory floor as a major backbone. The credit system in the country was fine – unlike today. There was no discrimination and the only reason why someone was refused a loan was because of their business and not gender. Although the few sectors that were dominated by women like clothing have declined, the Polish women have become the pioneers in other sectors like economy, finance, and banking.
Some of the most notable names in Poland are Hanna Gronkiewicz Waltz, the former President of National Bank of Poland, Alicja Kornasiewicz, former Treasury Ministry’s financial-sector privatization chief, Maria Wisniewska, former Pekao President, Helena Luczywo, the owner of Agora SA and Gazeta Wyborcza.
All this has been achieved despite the numerous setbacks and stereotypes. Traditionally in Poland, women are seen as homemakers. However times are changing, and today, Polish women are more determined and equipped than before. Many women over the age of 40 are entering the business game and setting up businesses in their small cities and towns. The younger women are moving shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts in the various industries and are sending a strong message of ‘we have arrived.’ The women have formed their own associations to help each other grow. The Polish Association of Women Entrepreneurs began with eight companies in early 1998 and now has over 200 companies on the list.
In the current competitive market, the women have helped the Polish economy sustain and have put it on a fast track to success. Poland wouldn’t have been what it is today had the Polish women not stepped out of their homes to conquer their dreams.