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The Warsaw Voice » Other » November 4, 2002
BRITAIN IN POLAND
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Now What?
November 4, 2002   
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It is already 12 years since, with the support of the British Know-How Fund, British Executive Service Overseas (Beso), first began its activities in Poland.


Beso is a development agency which offers professional expertise to organisations in transitional economies. Since 1990, there have been 300 Beso missions to Poland dealing in a variety of areas, ranging from riding for the disabled to business management. On Oct. 3, Beso Regional Director for Poland Patrick Murphy and Beso representative in Poland Jan Kossakowski organised a seminar “Thirty Years of Beso Around the World, 12 Years in Poland and Now What?"

Thanks to the patronage of Leszek Balcerowicz, president of the National Bank of Poland, the seminar was held in the august premises of the central bank. A distinguished panel, which included Zbigniew Pełczyński, founder of the School for Leaders and himself a Beso volunteer, presided over lively discussions on Beso's past and future. Emphasis was placed on the need to find new avenues of support now that the Know-How Fund is moving its attention away from Poland to less developed countries beyond its eastern borders. Kossakowski also introduced his plans to form a Polish Beso where Polish experts would direct their skills at helping their less fortunate neighbours.

That evening, British Ambassador Michael Pakenham hosted a reception to celebrate Beso's success in Poland. It was attended by a selection of the great and the good who, it is hoped, will support Beso in the future. Elder statesmen, among them former Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki, mingled with young and thrusting entrepreneurs. Companies represented at the reception included HSBC and BP. If Kossakowski and Beso can rally support from business and harness EU funding, then the sky's the limit. But, as Beso volunteer Olive Surtees, recently awarded the Knight's Cross of the Polish Order of Merit, said, “It's not a question of miracles but of hard-nosed business sense and strategy." Kossakowski is confident that with the help of enthusiastic young Poles, several of whom were guests at the reception, his plans for a Polish Beso will be successful. “Now that Beso has such deeply established roots in Poland, we must and can look to the future," he said.
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