By Aneta Jóźwicka, BPCC Chairwoman and Paweł Siwecki, BPCC CEO
Dear members and readers of Contact Magazine Online,
We would like to share with all of our readers our full report, made to the BPCC’s Annual General Meeting on 22 June (during which the 2022 financial statement, chamber activities, and discharge of the board were accepted). The report covers the period of 15 September 2022 to 22 June 2023.
30th anniversary and flagship events
The BPCC’s 30th anniversary celebrations were rounded off at a gala dinner in Warsaw on 18 October, with special guests Lord Bilimoria and BBC World’s Kasia Madera. HMA Anna Clunes, BPCC Chairwoman Aneta Jóźwicka, and the Scottish Government’s Trade Envoy to Poland, Martyn O’Reilly, entertained the audience in a memorable panel discussion. A special congratulation letter was read out from HE Piotr Wilczek, Polish ambassador to the UK. The 30th anniversary gala dinner was a show of unity and strength of the BPCC network.
Other high-profile events that have taken place since mid-September include the 2nd Female Leadership Forum (on 19 December), the traditional New Year’s CEO macroeconomic briefing on 13 January, the 1st Female Entrepreneurship Forum on 9 March, the inbound Scottish mission to Poland led by Scotland’s trade minister Ivan McKee on 22 March, and lunch with Baroness Ashton, former EU foreign secretary on 29 March. On 24-26 April, the BPCC, together with the British Embassy in Warsaw, took part in the 15th European Economic Congress in Katowice, jointly hosting the UK pavilion. The ‘EU and UK closer again’ event was hosted by the British Embassy on 15 May, with the BPCC, British Embassy and Think Tank jointly delivering it. And finally our annual riverboat cruise on the Odra in Wrocław took place on 15 June with 100 people attending the networking event.
In overall numbers for the reporting period, we’ve organised 14 networking events and co-organised or supported 230 other meetings, including policy and sector-focused events, webinars and patronages, making this a record nine months in terms of activity. At the same time, our social-media presence is stronger than ever, with several thousand new followers observing our accounts on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Following the election of the new Board at last September’s AGM, a new strategy, verified by a membership survey conducted in January 2023, has been rolled out, focusing on three pillars.
The BPCC’s mission has been defined as “serving the interests of BPCC members by supporting two-way trade and investment between Poland and the UK; providing a platform for members to engage in a dialogue with policy makers with the goal of improving ease of doing business in Poland; and to become one of the most influential and efficient business organisations in Poland”.
The BPCC’s overall goals:
- Deliver efficient business networking to enable know-how sharing and promote investment opportunities between members; ensure access to practical know-how on how to enter the Polish market for businesses from UK.
- Build the BPCC’s reputation among policy makers: BPCC to become an important business voice, consulted and listened to when public policies are made.
- Expand the membership base by providing a compelling offer for members and raising visibility of BPCC activities.
The three goals break down further into the operational level, which you will see in the form of our activities and events. The BPCC board is overseeing the strategy execution and BPCC’s executive team will ask for your feedback in a second membership survey to be sent out in H2 2023.
Part of the chamber’s new strategy is regulatory impact. On 4 May 2023, Magdalena Stanilewicz, our newly recruited regulatory affairs manager joined the BPCC team. Magdalena’s work is focused on feeding back members’ issues to the Polish authorities and regulators. She is also building stakeholder relationships with other Polish business organisations, the International Group of Chambers of Commerce (of which the BPCC is one of 17 members), the Polish media, and of course the British Embassy in Warsaw and the Polish Embassy in London. This is a significant move for the chamber to secure its presence amongst advisory bodies to the government and forms a platform for our members to engage and impact through us legislative process.
Following the election of Aneta Jóźwicka to the position of BPCC Chairwoman, high-profile interviews were secured with national business media, including Puls Biznesu and Interia Business as well as an interview with Business Insider at the European Economic Congress. These were intended to showcase the chamber’s work outside of our network to gain greater visibility and a higher profile.
The BPCC’s own Contact Magazine Online allows members to promote themselves by sharing their insights and best practice. The magazine appears five times a year, providing members with professional advice and opinions from expert practitioners. We are building a strong community voice representing the Polish, British and international points of view about doing business in Poland, in English. Since last September’s AGM, three issues of Contact Magazine Online have appeared. They were:
- Human Resources (issue 58)
- Real Estate & Construction (issue 57)
- Green Transformation (issue 56)
The next issue, focusing on financial services, will appear next week.
Contact Magazine Online reaches directly 3,800 recipients and is further promoted through our social media followers: LinkedIn (6,180), Twitter (2,423) and Facebook (3,300); data accurate at the time of writing.
Help for Ukraine
24 February 2022 was a date that brought back the horrors of war to Europe. From start of the full-scale Russian aggression on Ukraine, the BPCC was there to support our neighbours. Our members have responded fantastically; every act of help or donation was publicised and supported by us. We focused on special projects such as “warM Ukraine” campaign in December 2022 – jointly with 16 other international chambers, we raised funds to support the purchase of 100kW power generators for two Ukrainian hospitals facing harsh winter conditions: City Clinical Maternity Hospital No. 2 in Chernivtsi and to the Chernivtsi Regional Psychiatric Hospital.
Since June 2023 we are supporting the Ukraine Business Compact 2023 – a declarative and non-binding statement of international businesses’ support for Ukraine’s recovery.
The Ukraine Business Compact gives international businesses a platform to show their support for Ukraine’s recovery and its drive to modernise, build a resilient and agile economy, and emerge from conflict as a stronger and more prosperous state.
As a community we shall continue to maximise our efforts to help and support Ukraine going forward.
We remain active in the global network of British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) overseas, which now encompasses 130 chambers across all continents. This network links in with the 53 accredited chambers around the UK; we help forge contacts between UK chamber members and businesses across Poland.
The BPCC has continued to play an active role in the work of the International Group of Chambers of Commerce, which now represents foreign investors from 17 countries present in Poland. In the past year, the IGCC has made high-level representations to the Polish authorities on taxation and labour-law issues. With such a major presence in the Polish economy, the IGCC remains a powerful voice for the foreign-investor community.
The current number of members is 263 compared to 262 in September 2022. There has been a significant turnover of members due to the economic impact of high inflation – rising operational and energy costs and other factors, but managed to replace the losses with new joiners. We’re also seeing increased interest in our work from middle and large enterprise, often entering Poland from the UK or joining in through a recommendation or by noticing our media visibility. From 1 January 2023 we have increased our fees to fend off the effects of high inflation impacting our costs; to date, most of that increase has been carried by our largest firms (Chairman’s Class members with employment above 150 people).
2023 is really the first post-pandemic year, and our overall goal for the future is to come back to the pre-pandemic membership level of 290 member companies we had in January 2020.
Castorama, PwC and HSBC continue their Patronage commitment for which we’re grateful.
With the addition of Magdalena Stanilewicz, who joined the BPCC as regulatory affairs manager in early May 2023, the executive team has increased to eight people since the last AGM. The rest of the team is unchanged and continues to support our members: Paweł Siwecki, Dorota Kierbiedź, Ilona Chodorowska, Jakub Piegat, Michael Dembinski, Paulina Sierańska and Urszula Kwaśniewska on a project-by-project-basis. I would like to say a very well-deserved thank you to the team.
Administration and premises
The BPCC’s HQ remains on ulica Zielna 37 in Warsaw; our Wrocław branch office remains on ulica Strzegomska 142A.