Polish Marta opens new horizons for KSK

A BEDFORDSHIRE firm of chartered accountants and business advisers is having growing success in developing services for the county’s Polish ex-patriate community.

Monday, 23rd May 2011, 10:16 am

Keens Shay Keens (KSK), which has offices in Luton, Bedford and Biggleswade, recruited Marta Krawczynska last year as project manager for Polish businesses and has seen the number of clients increase substantially.

KSK director Charles Little believes that the Polish immigrant population that came to Bedford and Luton a few years ago is now maturing into well-run businesses. But those people, more than the resident business community, may need help in navigating complex tax laws.

A walk around either Luton or Bedford quickly reveals shops, cafes and services that are either owned by Poles or are appealing to the large number of people from Poland who have decided to try to make a go of it in the UK.

Marta, now 30, showed amazing get-up-and-go when, six years ago, she and her cousin virtually stuck a pin in a map and came to this country. Two young women, with little English and nowhere to stay, made their way to Bedford with a dream.

Marta, a banking and finance graduate, worked as a restaurant chef, in electronics assembly and as a finance assistant as she learned the language.

Then Marta met Mr Little and offered to work at KSK for nothing. But he said it was out of the question to work for nothing and took her on part-time.

Although Marta’s cousin has left to go back to her homeland, they learned English and Marta is now working through her highly technical ACCA accountancy examinations.

Marta explained that, contrary to some people’s belief, it is much more difficult to set up in business in Poland than it is in the UK.

She said: “It’s easier to deal with tax in the UK. It is not easy to register as self-employed in Poland – there is 23 per cent VAT.”

Now Mr Little says it is Marta who is teaching him about Polish businesses and helping KSK enter new markets for its services. After a slow start, KSK is picking up clients regularly.

Mr Little said: “It is like me starting out all over again.” Mr Little has had articles published in Polish publications, with the help of Marta’s translations, of course!

Mr Little recently met former Polish president Lech Walesa, whose leadership at the Gdansk shipworks is credited with being the straw that broke the back of eastern bloc communism in the late 1980s.

Mr Little said KSK recognises that a natural Polish speaker is an important representative to a community that adds value to business in the UK but which can find the rules and regulations frustrating.

Mr Little explained: “Overcoming the language barrier will help all Polish entrepreneurs in business whether as self employed or in limited companies to obtain first hand the advice and expertise they need in their own language.”

Marta is also a member of the Polish Business Club in Luton.