Three days of business meetings and discussions, but also a time for establishing relationships and building trust on which business is based. This is how the 13th edition of the European Congress of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, which ended today, can be summarized in a nutshell.
- Over 50 panel discussions, workshops and speeches,
- 300 speakers and presenters,
- Over 6,500 registered participants from 24 countries.
That’s what the 13th European Congress of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, which ended on Friday afternoon, looked like in numbers.
The biggest one in Europe
The Katowice congress is the largest meeting of the small and medium-sized business sector in Europe. It’s an event full of practical advice, but also an opportunity to establish new relationships.
–Business is of course carried out by people and this is crucial. You can’t do business only through e-mail or online. Real business is run by people, who look each other in the eye – saus Stefan Moritz, Secretary General of European Entrepreneurs CEA-PME.
Europarliamentarian prof. Jerzy Buzek during the opening of the Congress at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Katowice (RIG) Community Gala, highlighted that 13 is a lucky number. One must admit that this saying has been confirmed, as this year’s edition enjoyed record interest. The 13th European Congress of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises was attended by more than 6,500 people.
– It is truly magnificent, that another edition of our event was visited by even more guests than last year – said with satisfaction Tomasz Zjawiony, president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Katowice, which organizes the congress.
Many discussions were dedicated to international relations. The panelists not only pointed out that cultural differences affect the style and way companies are run, but also shared practical advice on how to sail economically into international waters. Congress participants were able to hear, among other things, how to invest in South America: Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. The lectures attracted considerable interest: “Invest in USA – it’s simple” about procedures for registering companies in North America. Another panel shared experiences from cross-border Polish-Czech-Slovak cooperation.
For many polish entrepreneurs investing abroad is a great opportunity to attract new customers, but also a high-risk venture.
– The German market is very diversified, and really take this aspect very seriously, because this is what can result in you either succeeding very well, and you can sometimes make a mistake and overpay,” warned Urszula Wöltjen, foreign investment manager at Invest Region Leipzig.
Challenges of the future
The slogan of this year’s congress was: Are you ready for change? Entrepreneurs are a group accustomed to dealing with a changing environment and new responsibilities. For them, attending the congress is a powerful dose of new knowledge. Hence, on the agenda of the ECSME were discussions on preparing for ESG reporting, adapting Polish regulations to EU regulations, e.g. in the field of RES, and key legal changes planned for 2024. Tomasz Bednarek, president of the Regional Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management in Katowice, had good news for entrepreneurs.
– The “50 kW na start” program has definitely been a success and will continue in the coming years. We invested PLN 27 million, had more than 200 applications submitted, and the program has already been expanded to the entire spectrum of entrepreneurs. The level of non-refundable aid has been raised, and interest in the program is so high that we are considering extending the budget for future years,” informed Tomasz Bednarek – President of the Regional Environmental Protection and Water Management Fund in Katowice.
Crowds at the job fair
Representatives of more than a dozen companies presented themselves at the Business Expo Fair, including those providing advice on obtaining EU funds, renting cars or offering business management software. In the zone one could check whether a contractor is reliable, as well as learn about a modern method of health and safety training using VR goggles.
The second fair space, Work For All, was organized jointly with the International Rescue Committee for job seekers and employers. The booths of employers and universities were very popular. This may attest to the dynamism of the Silesian labor market.
– As work institutions, we have been interacting and building local partnerships for many years. We have also observed that the customer has changed, so we have placed a focus on mental support. Of great importance in our ranks are career counselors who have adapted to the market and the competencies of job seekers, helping them find their career paths – he described. Andrzej Koba, chairman of the Convention of Directors of District Labor Offices of the Silesian Voivodeship.
For the first time in the 13th year history of ECSME the organizers awarded Economic Prizes. The award winners were: Rafał Brzoska – CEO and President of the international Integer.pl 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 -world authority on leadership, as well as Poland’s largest private rail carrier Ecco Rail Sp. z o.o., international organization supporting refugees International Rescue Committee, and Wojciech Kostrzewa – entrepreneur and chairman of the Polish Business Council.
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. It 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.