35. Poland

For the last three years, the Polish economy, as is the case with the European and global economy, has been strongly affected by the effects of the pandemic and the Russian aggression against Ukraine. Global turmoil and the energy crisis provoked by Russia have increased inflation around the world, especially in Europe, which had a significant impact on SMEs.

In 2022, there were 2 349.8 thousand non-financial enterprises in Poland, which is 0.3% less than the previous year, and 36.1% more compared to 2010. In 2022 SMEs made up 99.8% of all non-financial enterprises in Poland, numbering 2 345.9 thousand SMEs in total. As in previous years, non-financial enterprises are dominated by the presence of microenterprises, which were responsible for 97.2% share in the structure of the entire population in 2022. Among all size classes, the microenterprises recorded the greatest increase in the number of units in the years 2010–2022.

In 2022, the banking sector remained stable. As a result of the reforms implemented after the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, the Polish banking system has generally become more resilient to shocks, due to stronger capital and liquidity buffers. In 2022, a slight increase in debt was observed among both large companies and SMEs.

The stock of outstanding business loans and SME loans increased in 2022, which could be driven by an increase in credit demand. The share of non-performing loans (both total and SME) decreased slightly in 2022. The average interest rate, both for SMEs and large companies, increased in 2022. Similarly, the interest rate spread also rose to 1.23 percentage points.

According to PFR Ventures, the value of the venture capital market in 2022 was only slightly lower than the year before. Considering the global downward trend, this is a positive sign. The total number of transactions increased, but their average value fell from EUR 1.6 million in 2021 to EUR 1.4 million in 2022.

Despite the difficult business environment, the Warsaw Stock Exchange achieved stable financial results in 2022. The Warsaw Stock Exchange Capital Group generated PLN 389.3 million in revenue in 2022, which means a low, single-digit decrease (4.5%) compared to the record level from 2021. Last year, the Group recorded record shares in the profits of associates, which reached PLN 28.3 million and were 15.9% higher year-on-year.

In 2020, the government launched a number of tools to support domestic entrepreneurs. The “Anti-crisis Shield” included the so-called Financial Shields in the form of financial subsidies for SMEs and in the form of preferential financing for large companies, which were worth a combined total of PLN 71.37 billion (July 2021). Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego provided support worth more than PLN 240 billion (April 2023) –in the form of accessible guarantees. The Anti-crisis Shield also covered other measures such as social insurance exemptions, subsidies to the remuneration of employees and idle- time benefits. The government support under the Anti-crisis Shield has amounted in total to over PLN 236 billion as of July 2021. These measures have significantly mitigated the effects of the crisis in the non-financial corporate sector.

The measures on price mitigation taken so far have been addressed to a wide audience in order to remedy the situation on many levels. Measures to reduce the negative impact of high inflation include, among others:

  • An anti-inflation shield that has reduced taxes on certain products, including energy;

  • The Energy Shield, which introduced allowances and compensations for the purchase of energy raw materials for certain groups, including vulnerable entities;

  • The Solidarity Shield, which set the maximum electricity prices, including for SMEs, PLN 785/MWh

The European Commission’s Autumn 2023 economic forecast for Poland projected GDP growth at 0.4 % in Poland in 2023. GDP is expected to pick up to 2.7% in 2024 and farther improve to 3.2% in 2025.

In 2024, the European Commission forecasts a rebound in private consumption to 2.7 %. According to the Commission’s projections, investments will increase by 3.8.0 % in 2024 and 4.7 % in 2025 (after an increase of 8.0 % in 2023). In turn, the dynamics of investment will be positively influenced by public investments – mainly in the field of national defence and at the level of local governments.

The European Commission points out that average annual inflation (HICP) in Poland in 2022 amounted to 13.2% and reached it’s peak in 2023-Q1. The European Commission expects that inflation is set to recede from 2023 onwards, but phasing out of anti-inflation measures and strong wage growth are projected to result in a gradual decline. As a result, the average annual inflation rate was set to fall in 2023 to 11.2 %and is expected to decrease significantly in 2024 to 6.3 % and in 2025 to 5.0%.

In the area of the labour market, the European Commission forecasts that the unemployment rate in 202 will decrease to 2.8% and will continue a downward trend reaching 2.7% in 2025. Despite the slowdown in economic activity, the unemployment rate will remain stable over the forecast period, as, according to the European Commission, the shortage of labour force makes companies in Poland reluctant to lay off their employees. The unemployment rate in Poland will be well below the EU average (of 6.0% in 2024 and 5.9% in 2025, respectively). The EC expects wages to continue to grow at a rapid pace, driven by a rising minimum wage and low unemployment rates.

The data of the Central Statistical Office show that in 2021, thanks to the improved economic situation, the revenues of companies increased by 19.6%, which indicates a significant expansion in the scale of economic activity of enterprises in the wake of an increase in demand. In 2021, SMEs were responsible for generating 54.3% of total revenues of non-financial enterprises.

In 2021, all groups of enterprises increased their revenues year on year: micro enterprises by 8.6%, small enterprises by 17.9%, large enterprises by 24.0%, and medium enterprises by as much as 25.6%. The SME sector as a whole showed a slower pace of revenue growth (16%) than large enterprises. In 2021, exports grew by 12.5%, significantly more than domestic demand (8.4%). Companies' production also experienced a high rate of growth, which increased by as much as 22%. The gross turnover profitability ratio also improved (to 9.1% in 2021 from 6.8% in the previous year). In 2021 value added grew slightly slower than other basic economic categories, although much faster than a year earlier (an increase of 9.6% in 2021 vs. 2.5% a year earlier).1

According to the Central Statistical Office in 2022, the financial results of the surveyed non-financial enterprises were even higher than those obtained a year earlier. Total revenues were higher by 27.4% than in the previous year, and the tax deductible expenses increased by 28.3%. The cost ratio deteriorated from 93.3% a year ago to 94%. Net revenues from the sale of products, goods and materials increased by 27.4%, and the costs of this activity increased by 27.1%. The financial result from the sale of products, goods and materials was higher by 32.6% compared to 2021. The financial result on other operating activities in 2022 was lower than in the previous year.

Banking sector is the most important source of external financing for businesses. However, loans to firms as a share of GDP constitute a moderate 13-17%. Corporate bonds issued on the domestic market or new issues of shares on the Warsaw Stock Exchange do not play a key role either. Polish firms rely mostly on their own funds. Specifically for SMEs, the preferred sources of external finance are trade loans, leasing, rentals and credit card or working capital loans. In fact, the preferred sources of external financing by SMEs are those that contribute to a greater flexibility of operation, faster adaptation of production capacity to economic conditions (e.g. leasing) or lower cost of financing (e.g. trade loans).

According to Credit Information Bureau (BIK) an improvement in the quality of loans in the enterprise sector is visible in the entire corporate segment, where the share of loans overdue more than 90 days has improved, i.e. decreased. In the case of joint-stock companies, it amounted to 5.6% as of 30 June 2022 and is lower by 2.3 percentage points compared to the pre-pandemic period. Similarly, for limited liability companies, the share of delayed loans was 8.8% (a decrease of 3.4 percentage points), and for micro-enterprises it was 15.1% (a decrease of 0.2 percentage points).

In the case of micro-enterprises, in the 12-month period, the BIK Quality Indexes of investment loans, working capital loans and overdrafts improved. The quality of working capital loans improved the most.

Based on quarterly reports of the Polish Financial Supervision Authority and, in particular, the NBP2 , it should be assessed that the deteriorating economic situation resulted in the tightening of the criteria for granting all types of loans from the first quarter of 2022.

Banks recorded a decline in demand in most credit market segments, with the exception of short-term loans to large enterprises and long-term loans to SMEs. Credit tightening and a decline in demand for loans apply in particular to the SME sector. The following quarters brought additional restrictive elements in the form of, among others, a more restrictive policy for lending. Starting from Q3 2022, the criteria for granting all types of loans to enterprises were further tightened, justified by the deterioration of economic forecasts. The banking sector reduced the maximum loan amounts. In the following quarters, the SME demand for long-term and short-term loans decreased significantly. This trend has generally continued throughout 2022. In Q4 2022, the criteria for SMEs were further tightened, justified by the deterioration of economic forecasts.

The general terms of financing did not change, but margins for higher-risk loans were raised.

In 2022, the bankruptcy registration values increased, respectively, quarter on quarter: in Q1 by 10.3%, in Q2 by 1.3%, in Q3 by 10.3% and slightly decreased in Q4 2022 by 2.6%.

The SME sector is particularly sensitive to changes and economic downturns, which, combined with high inflation, clearly limited the development of this sector in 2022.

Poland was the leading destination for venture capital investment in the CEE region, attracting EUR 215 million in 2022, an all-time high investment level in value terms. This was invested in 78 companies. When combining both venture capital and growth capital investments, Poland witnessed an 11% increase in 2022 compared to the previous year, reaching a total value of EUR 295 million.

The index agent FTSE Russell classifies the Polish capital market as a Developed Market since 2018. The Warsaw Stock Exchange Group generated revenues of PLN 110.7 million in Q2 2023 (+11.7% y-o-y) and PLN 222.9 million in H1 2023 (+6.5% y-o-y), the best 6M revenue in the GPW Group’s history. Its EBITDA was at PLN 78.9 million in H1 2023 (-19.1% y-o-y), operating profit PLN 62.2 million and net profit attributable to the owners of the parent entity PLN 71.6 million. The decrease in net profit by 6.0% year-on-year was due to higher operating expenses in connection with the development of new business initiatives, as well as inflation pressures3.

As the data of the Central Statistical Office show in 2022, the surveyed leasing companies had a total of 546,000 leases, new contracts with 396 thousand lessees, and were leasing 668 thousand items (funds) in the amount of PLN 68,410 million. There was a 14.6% decrease in the number of items (assets) leased in 2022. The subject of lease agreements included both new (PLN 53,800 million) and used (PLN 14,610 million) items (funds).

The largest share in the value of new contracts concluded in 2022 had the leasing of road transport vehicles - 69.9% of the total leasing value, of which the share of passenger cars amounted to 38.1 percentage points of The total value of new contracts, and trucks and vans 10.5 percentage points respectively. An important leasing segment was industrial machinery and equipment, accounting for 25.8% of the total value of newly concluded lease contracts. Taking into account the type of business activity, the lessees were dominated by entities from the sectors of transport and storage, wholesale and retail trade, industrial processing and construction. These industries concluded new contracts worth PLN 46,230 million, which accounted for 67.6% of the total value of contracts.

According to the Central Statistical Office the value of receivables redeemed by the factoring companies examined (together) increased by 20.0 % in 2022 compared to 2021. 25 465 customers used factoring services in 2022. Of this number, 25.2 % of customers were active in transport, 24.2 % trade, 20.8 % industry.

In 2022, the CEIDG (Central Registration And Information On Business)4register received 193,2 thousand applications concerning the liquidation of economic activities. However, the actual liquidation of operations last year was carried out in the case of 139,7 thousand companies. According to the CEIDG register in 2021, the actual liquidation was carried out in the case of 152.4 thousand companies (applications submitted were 176.1 thousand). Thus, in 2022, 8% fewer activities were closed down.

In terms of new activities, in 2022, 302 thousand companies were registered. This is 5.7% more than in 2021, when 286.5 thousand companies were founded. An analysis of the CEIDG registry shows that as of January 1, 2023, we have 2,601 million active companies. It is higher by 22.5 thousand active companies than on 1 January 2022, when it amounted to 2.579 million.

It is worth mentioning that a New Chance Policy financial instrument was launched in 2020 (with a budget of up to 120 million PLN per annum for 10 years). It consists of three components available for micro, small and medium-sized companies during the restructuring proceedings or facing the threat of liquidation.

  1. 1. Rescue aid. If the support conditions prove to be insufficient, the SME sector entrepreneur will be able to apply for an additional loan from the pool of temporary restructuring support, thus extending the repayment period to 18 months.

  2. 2. Temporary restructuring support. It is a continuation of rescue aid or functions as an independent instrument and is addressed to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. If the support conditions prove to be insufficient, an entrepreneur from the SME sector will be able to apply for additional funds from the restructuring aid pool and thus extend the repayment period.

  3. 3. Restructuring aid. Restructuring aid may only supplement the own contribution of an entrepreneur in a difficult economic situation. It cannot be used to finance new investments, unless it is necessary for the entrepreneur to regain the long-term ability to compete on the market.

The beneficiary may benefit from the New Chance Policy regardless of the assistance provided under the Anti-Crisis Shield or the PFR Financial Shield. The European Commission has approved the extension of the New Chance Policy aid program for 2021-2026.

Alongside the Anti-crisis Shield, it is expected that the Recovery and Resilience Facility will provide an additional boost to the economy. Poland joined the European Guarantee Fund and declared a share of over EUR 1 billion. The European Guarantee Fund aims to generate up to EUR 200 billion for the economy to help businesses recover from the pandemic.

The National Recovery and Resilience Plan (KPO) is a program that consists of 56 investments and 55 reforms. Its aim is to strengthen the Polish economy and make it easier to endure any crises. The value of the plan is EUR 59.8 billion (PLN 268 billion), including EUR 25.27 billion (PLN 113.28 billion) in the form of subsidies and 34 EUR. 54 billion (PLN 154.81 billion) in the form of preferential loans.

In line with EU goals, a significant part of the budget will be allocated to climate goals (46.60%) and digital transformation (21.36%).

KPO also includes a REPowerEU chapter, under which Poland received an advance payment of EUR 5 billion. These funds will be allocated to the energy transformation.

The Act of 4 November 2022, amending the Act on Countering Excessive Delays in Commercial Transactions and the Public Finance Act, entered into force on 8 December 2022. The main objective of this Act is to increase the efficiency of existing tools to combat late payment.

The new approach should have a motivating effect on the timely settlement of liabilities by large entrepreneurs towards entrepreneurs from the SME sector.

A particularly important solution for SMEs is the introduction of the ineffectiveness of contractual provisions prohibiting or limiting the transfer of receivables in overdue commercial transactions in which the creditor is an SME and the debtor is a large entrepreneur.

The amended provisions, thanks to the flexibility of the sanctioning model, should facilitate the acceleration of proceedings conducted by the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) against companies unduly delaying the fulfilment of their obligations. Proceedings often lasted more than a year before the legislation was introduced and were over-formalised. The proposals to make the penalty model more flexible were in line with the demands of entrepreneurs. When determining the exact amount of the penalty, the President of UOKiK can now take into account all the circumstances of the case, including mitigating and aggravating conditions. This will ensure that the penalties imposed are adequate to the identified infringement. The system is aimed at penalising entrepreneurs who are in arrears with sums of up to millions of zlotys. It is not aimed at the smallest companies. The new approach should motivate the timely settlement of obligations by large entrepreneurs towards SMEs.

Another particularly important solution for SMEs was the introduction of the ineffectiveness of contractual provisions prohibiting or limiting the transfer of receivables in overdue commercial transactions, in which the creditor is an SME and a debtor is a large entrepreneur. Such contractual clauses are particularly severe in asymmetric relationships where there is an element of contractual advantage. There is no justification for an entity that fails to fulfill its basic contractual obligations, which is to settle the monetary benefit on time, at the same time to invoke a contractual provision excluding or limiting the creditor's right to transfer the receivable. This solution was proposed by the social side and is the result of listening to the voice of the market. Moreover, it is consistent with the recommendations of the European Commission. Thanks to it, Poland joined the majority of EU countries whose legal systems exclude the effectiveness of contractual clauses limiting the transfer of receivables.


Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego, Report of the Management Board on the activities of the BGK Capital Group in 2020 and 2022:



Biuro Informacji Kredytowej, BIK podsumował pierwsze półrocze 2022 r.:


European Commission, Autumn 2023 Economic forecast for Poland:



GPW Group, GPW Group’s Financial Results in 2022:



Invest Europe, 2020 Central and Eastern Europe Private Equity Statistics:



Ministry of Economic Development, Labour and Technology: own calculations and analysis

Narodowy Bank Polski, Financial Stability Report:


Narodowy Bank Polski, NBP Quick Monitoring Survey, Economic climate in the enterprise sector, Summary:


PARP, Raport o stanie sektora małych i średnich przedsiębiorstw w Polsce 2023, praca zbiorowa na zlecenie Polskiej Agencji Rozwoju Przedsiębiorczości, Warszawa rok wydania 2023, http://www.parp.gov.pl:


PFR Ventures, Polish VC market outlook 2022:


Serwis Rzeczpospolitej Polskiej:


Statistics Poland, Activity of non-financial enterprises in 2021:

https://stat.gov.pl/obszary-tematyczne/podmioty-gospodarcze-wyniki-finansowe/przedsiebiorstwa-niefinansowe/dzialalnosc-przedsiebiorstw-niefinansowych-w-2022-roku,2,19.html Statistics Poland, Activity of leasing companies in 2022:


Statistics Poland, Financial results of non-financial enterprises 2022:


Statistics Poland, Factoring activity of financial enterprises in 2022:


Statistics Poland, Financial results of non-financial enterprises in I–XII 2022:



← 1. For more information see: 2023 Raport o stanie sektora małych i średnich przedsiębiorstw w Polsce, PARP

← 2. See https://nbp.pl/system-finansowy/sytuacja-na-rynku-kredytowym/ for reports on quarters I-IV

← 3. For more information see: https://www.gpw.pl/aktualnosc?cmn_id=113698&title=Stabilne+wyniki+finansowe+GK+GPW+w+2022+r.+w+trudnym+otoczeniu+rynkowym

← 4. The register only includes entrepreneurs who: run a sole proprietorship. The register does not contain legal entities.

Legal and rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2024

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at https://www.oecd.org/termsandconditions.