The only constant is change. Entrepreneurs know this very well, and have always had to face problems of varying magnitude – from financial liquidity and legal disputes to a broken machine or means of transportation.



Are we then “Ready for Change?” as the slogan of the 13th edition of the European Congress of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, which gathered more than 6,500 participants During the opening debate Jasiek Mela – a Polish traveler and social activist noted:


Life has shown repeatedly that something good can be drawn from these changes, and it is always worth answering the question: what can I, in the face of this change, give from myself?


Rafał Sonik – entrepreneur and philanthropist, the first Polish winner of the Dakar Rally – pointed out that the change may be out of our control, paying particular attention to Russia’s attack on Ukraine.


I have ambivalent feelings about the technology phase we have been for many years. I am an investor of the IT industry and I see that we are reaching a point where humans may lose control over which way many elements of our reality will go he said. – I think that artificial technology may become a distributed nuclear weapon. That is, cheap and available to anyone. Technology can turn against man. Especially since man has not shown the greatest wisdom in recent years – he added.



Energy + generational change  = job market prices?


Silesia has been undergoing a concrete transformation for years. It is mainly related to energy. Up until thirty years ago, more than four hundred thousand miners worked in the mines. Today there are about seventy thousand, or less than 20%. How do we prepare the labor market so that this restructuring takes place in a friendly way for those leaving the mining sector?


The mining job market is an “onion”, which has a core: that is, workers directly employed in the mines, and the individual layers are businesses that are moving away from the center with each successive layer. Those making up the top layer are already undergoing restructuring and downsizing and changing their business profile – said Grzegorz Sikorski, Director of Provincial Labor Office in Katowice. – The resources for job market adjustment are unlimited. On the other hand, the biggest problem will be the speed of the transformation. The second will be the fact that workers closer to the “core” are “ready” for the change, he added.


The future of coal in Poland?


The opportunities and threats posed by the energy transition were discussed during the SILESIA 2030 conference “Critical raw materials in the EU – 21st century oil? Opportunities and threats for the energy transition of the European Union” . Coking coal is very important for the Polish economy. Wojciech Kałuża, Vice President of JSW S.A., spoke about its future.


We must take two time perspectives. The first on is short-term – up to 10 years. Today we can say that JSW, as the largest producer of coking coal in Europe, has a good record, and we would like to see this product maintained on the EU’s list of critical raw materials. The coking coal we supply is used for the production of steel, and the data – presented by the World Steel Association – assume an increase in the production of this raw material by 2035 to about 150 million tons – he said.


Aside from coking coal, we have a variety of coal-like products, such as coking tar for the production of synthetic graphite. Demand for this raw material is expected to increase more than 25 times by 2040, as it is essential for battery production. What lies ahead, in the long term, is keeping our hand on the pulse, observing the changing market and diversifying our production – added the JSW S.A. Wicepresident.



The congress provided the tools necessary for change


What is noteworthy – the event is open, i.e. it is aimed at all interested parties, especially potential and current entrepreneurs and participation is free of charge. The thirteenth edition of the congress had dozens of meetings and workshops on the agenda, hosted several hundred speakers, and the topics discussed resulted from current needs and challenges.



For two days there was an Expert Zone, which offered free consultations on topics such as Social Security, amendments to the Labor Code, company automation, law, European funds for 2021-27, KSeF, loans, financing, software for the company or IT infrastructure security.


The International B2B Meetings, both onsite and online, allowed to attract new business contacts, partners from all over the world, suppliers and suppliers. What’s more: 24 foreign delegations participated in #ECSME and took an active part in the meetings and panel discussions.


At the Work For All Fair organized in conjunction with the International Rescue Committee, you could change the course of your career and meet with dozens of employers from the region.



The Business Expo Fair brought together representatives of more than a dozen industries eager to cooperate. There were companies dealing with, among other things, consulting on obtaining EU funds, renting cars, offering company management software. It was possible to check whether the contractor with whom one plans to cooperate is reliable, and to learn about a modern method of health and safety training using VR goggles.


The congress was inaugurated by The Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Katowice (RIG) Community Gala at the in NOSPR Concert Hall. During the Gala, for the first time in the thirteen-year history of the ECSME, the organizers awarded congressional Economic Awards. The award winners were: Rafał Brzoska – founder and CEO of the international Capital Group (owner of the InPost brand), Rafał Sonik – entrepreneur, athlete and philanthropist, Mokate Group – one of Europe’s largest family-owned companies, John C. Maxwell – a world authority on leadership, as well as Poland’s largest private rail carrier Ecco Rail Sp. z o.o., the international organization supporting refugees International Rescue Committee, and Wojciech Kostrzewa – entrepreneur and chairman of the Polish Business Council.



The Gala was highlighted by a concert of “I Feel Good” by American singer Big John Whitfild with his band Vienna Soul Society and the first Polish stand-up with majority business performed by Wojciech Fiedorczuk.


The fact is that we are facing today historically the most difficult challenges for the world’s economies, companies and ourselves – as entrepreneurs. Will we give up? I know I don’t have to answer this question, because at the Congress we gave ready-made solutions that will help us get through this time with as few consequences as possible. Thank you to all the participants, who registered more than six and a half thousand, speakers and partners. See you next year! – said Tomasz Zjawiony, President of the Regional Chamber of Commerce in Katowice, organizer of the Congress.




Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Katowice is the organizer of #ECSME. As a creator of the meetings and events industry for more than 33 years, it has supported regional business and stimulated its development – including among young people at the threshold of their careers. CCI provides business and communications consulting to its Member Companies and helps establish contacts with partners in the country and abroad. It shapes and disseminates the principles of ethics, honesty in business and generally understood corporate social responsibility. The 14th edition of the European Congress of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises returns next year.