1 The Final Report Submitted by Development Alternatives, Inc. (DM) for Contract No.: Business Information Project Warsaw, June 30,1997
2 Final Report Business Information Center Project TABLE OF CONTENTS OVERVIEW.. Eerie... 3 Objective l/results... 4 Objective 2Dtesults... 5 Objective 31Results... 6 Objective 4Dtesults... 7 ATTACHMENTS A Map A2* SieC Informacji dla Biznesu (draft) A3* Final Matrix of BIC Fact Sheets The list of independent professionals prepared new Fact Sheets A4* Copy of each new Fact Sheets; A5* Strategy for continued development and delivery of Fact Sheets A6* Statistics A7* Promotion - press release
3 Overview The Business Information Center (BIC) Project has been designed and bded by USAID to serve as a clearinghouse for information on services available to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) throughout Poland. As the Project was going to the end, growing attention was being devoted to the challenge of finding a permanent home for the products and services that have been, and continue to be, developed. The Polish Foundation for Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion and Development (the Foundation) was selected as the most logical and the most promising choice for institutionalizing the information products and services developed by the BIC. Also, the Foundation has recognized the critical importance of establishing and maintaining information flows, and has taken steps to create a Business Information Network (BIN). The decision of no-cost extension has been made based on the positive efforts demonstrated by the co-operating host country institution - the Polish Foundation for Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion and Development, combined with the fact that some level of funds remained unspent. The main goal of no-cost extension was to provide further support for the Foundation's efforts at institutionalizing BIC information products and services. On March 5,1997 DAI submitted to USAID the Exit Report. The pwpose of that report was to provide a discussion of the "Life of Activity Results" and "Indicators" in the BIC Work Plan, presented accomplishments and pointed out adjustments that were made. Therefore the Final Report will present only these activities that were done during the no-cost extension period.
4 DAI through the BIC Project during the no-cost extension concentrated its work on 4 objectives mentioned in the Addendum to the Memorandum of Understanding, singed by both parties (DAI and the Foundation) on 20 February, These objectives led the way of building the fundament for BIC Project products sastainability... According to the first objective " mer institutionalize capacity within the Foundation to administer an expanded network of business support organizations (BSOs) connected to the Notes-based computer established by the BIC", the BIC project done the following activity: A. Trained 6 people from the Information Sewice Unit (Foundation) This unit will be directly responsible for fiuther development and management of the Business Information Network (connecting new units, training people, designing new databases, etc.): B Beata Cnuna B Tadeusz Korobkow - Database Designer; - Lotus Notes Administrator, Database Designer; -4 B Bartek Kositorny - Lotus Notes Administrator, Database Designer; bz yfw tppdl63c B Justyna Skorubska B Andrzej Zaczek B Cezary Marchwicki - individual training/consulting done by Marcin Wiktorzak (BE Lotus Notes Consultant) Lotus Notes Administrator; - Lotus Notes User. B. Connected new offices to the Business Information Network The following three informatiun centers have been connected to the BIC network (see map - attachment 1). - Fundajca Rozwoju Wojewodztwa Bialostockiego in Bialystok, - Centrum Wspierania Biznesu in Wroclaw, - Stowarzyszenie Wspierania Przedsiqbiorczoici i Rozwoju Rynku Pracy in By dgoszcz and one organisation supporting SMEs as a partner institution - - Bydgoszcz City Council in Bydgoszcz. C In cooperation with the Information Service Unite we developed a draft project of the proposed communication set-up between BIC and the other centers within the planned h e structure of the network (see attachment 2).
5 People delegated in each connected offices to cooperate with the Business Information Network were trained for 6 hours in using Lotus Notes databases. Also, they got individual lessons (during the connection) considering the way of marketing and promoting the existed on their computers database. One of the new connected office very quickly l e d how to use the new kind of information they have access to. Based on documents from Business Assistance Database this office organized a course titled "SME Donor Programs". All new connected offices started a new "campaign" of promoting Fact Sheet series. Analysis of Clients Served and Services Delivered through BIC Warsaw, Satellite Oflces, and Newly Connected Sites (other statistics- see Att.6) Number to Date Benchmark % Complete No. of Clients No. of sewices (Gllwlce) % 73.47% No. of services (Gdansk) No. of sewices (Poznan) No. of sewices (Warsaw) No. of services (FIISU) No. of strvicw (Rzeszow) No. of senicw (Low
6 No. of sewices (EIC-War) No. of sewices (Lublin) No. of services (Koszalin) No. of services (Szczecin) No. of services (Total) Number of Fact Sheets (Total) Statitisics are calculated as of :59:31 PM... Fact Sheet Series The BIC Fact Sheet Series contained in the BID - is still the project's most popular information resource, evidenced by ever-increasing demand. The BIC Work Plan called for preparation of 104 separate fact sheets. To date, BIC has completed 136 f'act sheets (see updated Fact Sheet Matrix, most recent fact sheets and list of independent professionals prepared these new ones - Attachment 3,4). In order to update fact sheets, the BIC project covered the cost of buying the legal documents database called LEX on CD-Rom. This database contains binding Polish legal acts and regulations, and is updated regularly. It will be used by the Warsaw-based BIC centre and at 3 workstations operated by the sections responsible for expanding and updating the fact sheets database: Financial Section, Information Section, Studies and Analyses Section. The strategy for continued development and delivery of Fact Sheets was created and is attached to this report (see Attachment 5). Polish fonts are included in all Business Information Database with special attention paid to Fact Sheet series.
7 Transformation Background 4 BIC Poznan Sastainability As the USAID project is driving to a close, BIC has searched for ways to ensure continued delivery of business information services at each of its satellite offices. The staff of the Ponati office has been devoted much attention to the challenge of finding a continuator for the products and services developed and delivered under the USAID project. Pomah BIC office has identified Fundacja Wlasno4ci Prywatnej "SAMI SOBIE (SAM1 SOBIE) zls the most suitable local partner. The overall objective of SAM SOBIE is to stimulate economic development of Poland by applying procedures and instruments that would support transition to the market economy. To stimulate and develop a public awareness of private ownership and business know-how as well as to promote knowledge of the market economy and capital markets, SAMI SOBIE has established Business Education md Information Center (CEiIG). It has been decided CEiIG to be a permanent home for products and services delivered by BIC. The entire transition of the BIC PoznaTi into SAMI SOBIE takes place at two phases. * First Step - Removal and Collaboration To support the transfer, BIC project initiated a three month office rental agreement with SAMI SOBIE, commencing April Is', The period of March through June 1997 has been devoted to tightening linkages between BIC Poznah and CEiIG. An exact date of the BIC removal has been March 1 7,1997. * Second Step - Integration A time frame for the actual transition is the termination date of USAID support to the project, i.e. June 30', July lst, 1997 will be a day of merging and consolidating resources of BIC Pozna" and CEiIG into a single Business Education and Information Center. SERVICES * Regional Newsletter March - May - The March edition of the newsletter has been devoted to the concept of merging the BIC project with the Polish Foundation of SM's as an approach for achieving sustainability of continuous delivering of services developed under the USAID project. A separate chapter has described transformation at the local level and benefits resulting from the merge of BIC Poznah and CEiIG. STEP i - a program created by the Polish Foundation of SME's has been described in the last regional newsletter in May. A number of business support organizations from Wielkopolska have won the competition. Thus the fact of such strong representation from the Wielkpolska region have been emphasized in the
8 Circulation of newsletters newsletter. There have been a list placed in the newsletter that contained addresses of the organizations from the region - members of the program "Support to Entrepreneurship in Poland- STEP i". Some space in the newsletter have been devoted to "Merkuriusz" which is going to be a continuation of the Regional Newsletter. Networking Meetings March Date: March 2oth, 1997 Subject: Leasing as a universalform offlnancing businesses Objective: No. Participants: 28 No. Leasing Firms: 5 There have been two lectures: June Date: June 24~, 1997 Subject: The meeting has aimed explaining participants theory of leasing and giving them an opportunity to talk to representatives of firms that offer leasing services to SME's. Conference of Wielkoposka Business Support Organizations Conference of Wielkopolska Business Support Organizations has been the last networking meeting organized by BIC. The idea of the conference has been to show importance of the BIC project for the region and to announce the formal consolidation of BIC P o d and SAM SOBIE in order to support the
9 shared objective of promoting the sustainable flow of information. The other reason for the meeting has been to gather most of business support organizations fiom Wielkopolska and to give all them a chance to discuss terms of fbture cooperation. No. Participants: 32 representatives of BSO's in Wielkopolska No Honorary guests: 6: 1. Ms. Suzanne Olds - USAID 2. Mr. Pawei Krzeczunowicz - USAID 3. Ms. Krystyna Gurbiel - Polish Foundation of SME's 4. Mr. Andrzej Zaczek - Polish Foundation of SME's (Information Section) 5. Mr. Tomasz Kayser - Vice-president of Poznati 6. Mr. Wlodzimierz Jankowiak - Vice-Voivoda of Po& TERMS OF COOPERATION * Promotion (see Attachment 7) Being two independent institutions, BIC Poznati and CEiIG started promoting each other as soon as BIC moved to CEiIG, i.e. in March BIC has included promotional brochures of CEiIG in mailing of newsletters and also provided each client with their flyers. CEiIG also has informed their clients on the BIC products and services and the entire process of consolidation. Mailing lists of both organizations have been revised resulting in one enriched by addresses of potential clients for newly offered services. Local media have been informed on the upcoming transition twice: in March when BIC has changed its location and in June when the final merging is taking place. Conference of Wielkopolska Business Support Organizations Conference of Wielkopolska Business Support Organizations has been the last great event for the Ponari BIC office. It has been organized in a close collaboration with CEiIG. It has been an occasion to celebrate a final merging of the BIC Poznafi and CEiIG in presence of most of the BSO's from our region. "Merkuriusz" SAM1 SOBIE has recogmid an importance of the regional newsletter developed by each BIC office for its region. Thus SAW SOBIE has decided to continue offering this product. However, having its own publishing house, highly qualified staff and financial resources for such publication, they are going to change its shape and increase circulation of the newsletter. It will be edited quarterly under the name of "Merkuriusz". SAM1 SOBIE is planning to enrich "Merkuriusz" by economic analysis, statistics, new legislation, announcements on business offers and tenders so that it will be interesting both for business people, local government and business support organizations. The first edition of the "Merkuriusz" has already been printed out. It has been presented at the Conference on 24 June97. The Poznati BIC staff has been actively involved in preparation of the first "Merkuriusz". About 75
10 region C main topic on "Business Information System" C information on the Polish Foundation of SME's land its projects C interview with General Director of the Polish Fdundation of SME's C useful addresses C business offers C tender offers C calendar of events FUTURE SUSTAINABILITY During the period of March 1" - June 30h 1997, there were two major investments made in the hardware and software of the Po& BIC office: I. Installation of a CD-ROM reader- that will support further development of computer resources providing accurate and comprehensive information the future. 11. Procurement of KOMPASS POLSKA - a Nidely known software that can provide most needed service - business contacts, i.e. information on addresses of potential clients, competitors and recipients of promotional campaigns. It will ensure sustainability of providing services on a commercial basis when the BIC project terminates.
11 ATTACHMENT 1
12 Map of Business Information Network *. Polska Warszawa Fundacja M ~ P Euro Info PBAN W-wa Gliwice New connected offices are underlined Attachment 1
13 ATTACHMENT 2
14 BUSINESS INFORMATION NETWORK (BIN) DRAFT STRATEGY PAPER
15 Contents 1. Business Information Network 2. Goals and tasks of the project 3. Organizational structure of the network 4. Territorial extent of the network 5. Partners in the project 6. Commitments of the users of the network 7. Products of the network 8. Services of the network 9. Price list of the services 10. Communication inside the network 11. Business Information Network and the National System of Services 12. Monitoring of the network's efficiency 13. Promotion of the network 14. Operation scheme for Cost estimate
16 Con tents 1. Business Information Network 2. Goals and tasks of the project 3. Organizational structure of the network 4. Territorial extent of the network 5. Partners in the project 6. Commitments of the users of the network 7. Products of the network 8. Services of the network 9. Price list of the services 10. Communication inside the network 11. Business Information Network and the National System of Services 12. Monitoring of the network's efficiency 13. Promotion of the network 14. Operation scheme for Cost estimate
17 1. Business Information Network 1.1. History of the network The project of the network of business information centres was created in April 1995 on the initiative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and was aimed at supporting the MSP sector in Poland by supplying information necessary for the development of enterprises. In September 1995 the Business Information Centre (BIC) was set up in Warsaw followed by the establishment of three another offices in Gdalisk, Gliwice and Pozna~i. In October 1995 the equipment of the offices was complete and at the end of November and the beginning of December pilot versions of databases were installed. At the end of January 1996 all the offices had access to the network's information resources. The first information product was a telephone and address database of institutions supporting MSP (Business Assistance Database), which initially included 1,500 records. Additional 1,300 records were added after the conversion of the database of the Polish MSP Foundation's Information Section. Another product was Business Information Database, the database popularly called "fact-sheets" (short 3-4 page pieces of information of legal and economic character constituting answers to the questions asked by entrepreneurs most often). The first factsheets were acquired fiom the Polish Foreign Investment Agency (in the Polish and English version), the subsequent were prepared by independent professionals, lawyers, advisers and institutions cooperating with USAID, for instance the Gemini Peds Project. At present the database contains 109 topics. Over the last 8 months over 10,000 factsheets were distributed among 567 customers. The number of fact-sheets was not limited during the project's implementation (most orders were carried out by mail), at the last stage the limit of 20 fact-sheets sent to a single customer was introduced. Within the framework of the project organized were also seminars at regional offices aimed at tightening cooperation between institutions supporting MSP in a given region, and at promoting products and services of BIC. In total, 648 customers took part in 26 such events. In November 1995 the first BIC newsletter was set up on the initiative of the Warsaw office. Subsequently each of the regional offices started issuing their own editions of the bimonthly and creating a mailing list of the bulletin's customers. The newsletter was distributed to 2,000 enterprises and institutions supporting them, providing information on events on the BIC network like seminars organized and new assistance programmes. It also made the customers familiar with the operation of supporting institutions.
18 The B1.C network started to render services in December 1995 but Customers Database was launched as of March It included information on the kind of services rendered or a product used by the customer. In June 1996 the Polish MSP Foundation was assigned to continue the BIC Project of USAID. In September 1996 an agreement on cooperation (Memorandum of Understanding) was signed between DAI and the Polish MSP Foundation. It provided for the Foundation's taking over of the project as of April 1997 and the transfer of material and non-material resources of BIC to the Foundation. In August 1996, in cooperation with the Foundation, another two centres were selected for being connected to the network and in September 1996 the E6di-based Business Information Centre and the Rzesz6w-based Business Support Centre started using the network's products. In November 1996 the Warsaw office moved to one of the Foundation's premises at 6/ 12 Zurawia Street. From November 1996 to February 1997 the Information Section staff responsible for the continuation of the BIC project underwent extensive training in the field of administering and designing in Lotus Notes. In January 1997 the BIC Project appeared on the Internet; information about the network, a list of fact-sheets with an order was placed on WWW sites of the Polish MSP Foundation. In January 1997 another three centres were selected to be connected to the network as a result of a contest for the participation in the National System of Services; the Koszalinbased Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Szczecin-based Regional Office of Euro Info Correspondence Centre and the Lublin, Cheim and ZamoSi: Development Foundation. In the same month two institutions that will be partners in the Business Information Network project, the Polish Business Advisers Network and the Euro Info Correspondence Centre of the Cooperation Fund, were connected to the network. In February 1997 a one-day training course for new users of the network was organized to familiarize them with work in Lotus Notes and information products available on the BIC server. In February 1997 DAI and the Polish MSP Foundation signed an annex to the agreement envisaging the extension of the project till the end of June 1997 and providing technical and essential support to the Foundation facilitating the taking over of the project as of July Present state of the network There are 11 centres operating currently on the Business Information Network. In accordance with the annex to the agreement signed with DAI the Polish MSP Foundation is to connect to the network another 3 centres by the end of June. However, before this takes place the situation of centres already belonging to the network must be cleared up as not all of them work properly and use products available on the BIC server. It is necessary to pay special attention to the Rzesz6w-based Business Support Centre, the L6di-based
19 Business Information Centre and the Gliwice-based Business Information Centre that practically stopped their information activity. 2. Goals and tasks of the project The general goal of the project is to secure for small and medium sized businesses fiom across Poland equal access to up-to-date business information indispensable to start and develop economic activity through improving information flow between institutions operating for MSP at the local and central level. The special goal of the project is to create a computer network connecting local and regional business information centres based on actual cooperation, exchange of information and experiences. 3. Organizational structure of the network Envisaged is the participation in the network of three categories of users: a) administrator of the system b) partner - the administrator of the base c) user of the network 3.1 Administrator of the system The role of the administrator of the system will be played by the Information Section of the Polish MSP Foundation. The tasks of the administrator of the +stem include designing and taking care of the further development of the network, keeping the server, coordinating information flow between users, providing new information products, stimulating cooperation and exchange of information between users, attracting to the system partner institutions specializing in providing business information Part~er - the administrator of the base The network's partner will be institutions of commercial and non-commercial character operating for the benefit of MSP that will make their information resources available to other users of the network, secure their current updating or will be rendering other information services to the network's users. Organizations carrying out economic activity will be using information resources available on the network in line with the same rules as the network's user according to the binding price list. Institutions that do not carry out economic activity will be allowed to use information products only for their own purposes without the possibility to distribute them free of charge User of the network
20 The user of the network will be non-profit institutions that directly cooperate with entrepreneurs rendering paid information services to them. The institutions will be selected from among the members of the National System of Services (KSU). Meeting basic hardware requirements and practice in rendering information services, proved on the basis of an application to KSU and filled questionnaires (material and non-material resources) will be a condition to join the Business Information Network. The network's users will be using information resources available on the server, distributing them against payment and updating data related to the region of their operation. In doing so they will apply procedures, forms and rules worked out with the Information Section. 4. Territorial extent of the network It is planned that in the end no more than 25 local information centres will be operating within the network with their operation covering entire Poland. One centre will serve no more than 3 provinces Current extent of the network By the end of May a total of 11 information centres with their operation covering the following provinces will be operating on the network: Szczecin - Szczecin and Gorz6w provinces (2) Koszalin - Koszalin, Pila and Slupsk provinces (3) Gddsk - Gddsk, Elblqg and Olsztyn provinces (3) Pond - Poznan, Konin, Leszno and Zielona Gdra provinces (4) E6di - Eodi, Piotrkbw, Kalisz and Sieradz provinces (4) Gliwice - Katowice, Opole, Cz~stochowa, Bielsko Biaia, Krakbw, Kilce, Nowy Sqcz provinces (7) Lublin - Lublin, Chelm, ZarnoSC provinces (3) Rzeszbw - Rzeszdw, PrzemySl, Krosno, Tarnbw and Tarnobrzeg provinces (5) Bialystok - Bialystok, Lomia, Siedlce, Biala Podlaska and Suwalki provinces (5) Bydgoszcz - Bydgoszcz, Tonui and Wloclawek provinces (3) Wroclaw - Wroclaw, Legnica, WaIbrzych and Jelenia Gdra provinces (4) Warsaw - Warsaw, Skierniewice, Ciechandw, Radom, Plock and OstroEeka provinces (6) The territorial disposition of the centres with the range of their operation is illustrated by chart (annex I). At present as many as 6 out of the 11 centres are servicing 4 or even 5 provinces. With the connecting of additional centres to the network the territorial extension of individual centres will be reduced. The centre seated in Bialystok will be an exception and will be servicing 4 provinces including Siedlce and Bida Podlaska provinces until another process of admission to KSU is completed in which an institution from the Podlasie region gains the required number of points. The provinces given in italics are the ones that are to be covered by the centres that will be created in the fbture. However, a centre already operating on the network will be
21 responsible for updating data from these provinces until information centres operating on the BIN network are set up in these cities. The Business Information Centre in Warsaw that is to close its operation in June this year in connection with the end of the BIC project of USAID is a special case. Currently it services customers from across Poland, not only the central region. We envisage,. however, that the Business Information Centre run by the Polish MSP Foundation, Euro Info and TIPS which is to replace the present Centre will be chiefly servicing customers from Warsaw and Skierniewice provinces Timetable of connecting centres By the end of 1997 we want to connect another 9 centres in provincial cities servicing the following regions: Gorzbw Wielkopolski - Gorzbw and Zielona G6ra provinces (2) Olsztyn - Olsztyn and Suwalki provinces (2) Kalisz - Kalisz and Sieradz provinces (2) Krakbw - Krakbw, Bielsko-Biala and Nowy Sqcz provinces (3) Krosno - Krosno and Tarnbw provinces (2) Walbrzych - Walbrzych and Jelenia G6ra provinces (2) Plock - Plock, Ciechan6w and Ostrolqka provinces (3) Kielce - Kielce, Radom and Tarnobrzeg provinces (3) Warsaw - Warsaw and Skierniewice provinces (2) The territorial disposition of the network with the range of operation of individual centres is illustrated by chart (annex 2). The following institutions from among those that gained the required number of points in the National System of Services were selected for being connected to the network: - Regional Development Agency SA in Walbrzych - Nidzica Development Foundation NIDA - Polish-American Enterprise Club in Cracow at the Malopolska Institute of Local Government and Administration - Western Economic Chamber in Gorzbw Wielkopolski - Business Support Centre in Plock - Kalisz Enterprise Incubator Foundation - Business Support Centre in Sanok - Staropolska Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Kielce The institutions were selected on the basis of points gained in the contest and information acquired from contest applications: the characteristics of activity carried out, computer hardware owned, information resources at their disposal (annex 3). 5. Partners in the project
22 Three partner institutions of central character were invited to take part in and develop the BIN system: a/ Euro Info Correspondence Centre of the Cooperation Fund bl System of Trade and Technology Information Promotion TIPS C/ Business Advisers Network (PBAN) We also plan to connect to the system as partners institutions operating on a local scale like the Bydgoszcz Town Office that is to be connected by the end of May Euro Info Correspondence Centre of the Cooperation Fund The Euro Info Centres (EIC) project was prepared by the European Commission in 1986 as part of a programme of supporting small and medium-sized businesses. At present the network is composed of 250 Euro Info centres in 34 countries of Europe and the Mediterranean region. The centres deal with providing businesses with information about the European Union, EU conditions and regulations governing economic activity, matching partners in the area of investment, trade and production. The Polish Euro Info Correspondence Centre started its operation in Its basic task is to prepare small and medium-sized businesses to Poland's integration with the European Union structures. In 1994 a network of Polish Regional Agencies affiliated to local organizations supporting the development of enterprise was established. Currently there operate 5 agencies in Szczecin, Gdatisk, Kielce, Cracow and Rzeszbw System of Trade and Technology Information Promotion TIPS " The TIPS system was established in 1986 on the initiative of UNDP and it is implemented by the non-governmental non-profit organization DEVNET. At present it is composed of some 40 national offices in four continents: Central Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. The TIPS system is a network supporting small and medium-sized businesses chiefly by rendering information services and stimulating the exchange of business information, arranging contacts between enterprises at a local, regional and international level. The basic service is the on-line Master TIPS system that offers access to databases via a modem or the Internet. Additionally, TIPS offers the TIPS Focus bulletin (providing information on business opportunities, including offers and inquiries from the Master TIPS base), the TIPS membership card, or the TIPS show (small exhibition events promoting product from Central and South-Eastern Europe), 5.3. Polish Business Advisers Network The Polish Business Advisers Network was set up by the Polish MSP Foundation at the end of 1996, the beginning of 1997 in order to prepare and apply programmes supporting the development of high quality consulting, information and training services earmarked for small and medium-sized businesses. The National System of Accrediting Consultants operating in the sector of small and medium-sized businesses is to be one of the projects implemented by PBAN. The first stage of the project (the creation of an initial database of consultants for the MSP sector),