Early Warning

Early Warning - copyrights

The overall objective

The overall objective of this proposal is to promote entrepreneurship and growth of SMEs across Europe. A key element is to create strong framework conditions for entrepreneurs and businesses across sectors that can help them face key challenges, including managing a crisis, dealing with bankruptcy and getting a second chance.

More specifically, we will:

  1. Promote policy development and implementation of innovative policy measures relating to bankruptcy and second chance across Europe by establishing a “European Network for Early Warning and for Support to Enterprises and Second Starters”. The Network will include key organisations, experts, policy makers and stakeholders from all 28 EU member states. Furthermore, the Network will be continued after the finalisation of the project in 2019.
  2. Apply a proactive approach to helping entrepreneurs and company owners by identifying and contacting companies in distress using the available means in the form of data bases and networks. We will also develop and test an innovative data-driven method to identifying companies in distress using machine learning and big data, which will set the future standard for identifying and helping companies in distress (Next Generation Early Warning).
  3. Help companies in distress by setting up Early Warning mechanisms providing advisory and support services to companies in distress in four target countries: Spain, Italy, Poland and Greece. The results and learning points from the target countries will be used for inspiration and in particular to promote and support the implementation of Early Warning mechanisms in other European countries.

Early Warning in a nutshell

The objective of the Early Warning project (EW) is to support entrepreneurship and development of small and medium enterprises across Europe. The most important task of Early warning is to develop a system, which shall assist companies from all sectors in facing challenges, crisis managements and taking advantage of the second chance in case of failure.

Under the project, company owners will have and opportunity to obtain discreet assistance and consultations with other experienced entrepreneurs – mentors and experts in numerous domains. Their commitment and knowledge could help to identify solutions for companies in troubles, thus preventing negative effects, such as bankruptcy or the necessity to lay off employees.

Early reaction to emerging difficulties and acceptance of friendly assistance may bring a company back on the right track. Each difficulty or failure may mean an opportunity to start a new viable undertaking.

How does it work?

An entrepreneur in distress

Any entrepreneur, whose company is in distress or who sees first signs of potential difficulties, may join the Early Warning project. The project is implemented jointly by the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (PARP) and Family Companies Foundation (FFR).

Entrepreneurs may apply to the project contacting EW consultant directly or via a form available at PARP’s website www.parp.gov.pl/ewe

Contacting a consultant

A consultant plays the role of “a general practitioner”, diagnosing the cause of the problem. He or she shall carry out an in-depth interview about the situation in the company. Together they look at the company from a broader perspective and identify risk areas. The consultant may provide direct advice or refer the entrepreneur to persons qualified in relevant areas.

The outcomes of the work with the Consultant may include:

– diagnosis and solution of the problem,

– drafting guidelines and referring the entrepreneur to a restructuring advisor,

– drafting of the diagnosis and referring the entrepreneur for further work with a mentor or other expert

The role of a mentor

The roles of mentors in EW project are played by experienced entrepreneurs, who ran into problems in the past, running their own companies, as everyone does. For the entrepreneur, the mentor shall be a companion in overcoming the crisis and defining necessary changes, he or she shall motivate the entrepreneur for action and accompany him or her in the process. Workshops have been envisaged for mentors, thanks to which they shall improve their skills of effectively assisting others.

Benefits to entrepreneurs

  • Voluntary support of experienced entrepreneurs
  • Consultations with a psychologist, financier, lawyer and many other committed experts willing to share their knowledge
  • Discreet relationship with a consultant and mentor, who carries out the process of change
  • Diagnosis of the situation in the company and joint development of a new plan for the company
  • A new impulse for action

The first country to undertake comprehensive action to support entrepreneurs in distress was Denmark, where the Early warning project has been implemented for more than 10 years. It turned out to be a great success- a network of over 100 mentors has been built, which work with entrepreneurs pro bono, supporting them in the process of change. On average, the companies covered by EW support retained 72% of their revenues and 72% of employment, while for companies not using the support offered by EW these indicators amounted to 64% and 57% respectively. Companies, which finally had to closed, thanks to support of professional restructuring advisors ended their activities with a debt to tax authorities lower by ca. EUR 20.000 than companies, which went bankrupt without the support of experts.



inforgrafika przedstawiająca projekt Early Warning

Poland is ready!

From 23 May 2017, Polish entrepreneurs may receive support under the Early Warning project. In order to be well-prepared for that moment, mentors and consultants, who will soon begin working with entrepreneurs in distress, i.e. those concerned about the situation in their companies, met on 15-16 May 2017 in Poznań.

The representatives of the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (PARP) and the Fundacja Firmy Rodzinne, which implement the project, presented the context of the project, the European Union documents that constitute its foundations and the role of Poland as one of the countries where pilot activities will be implemented (other countries include Italy, Spain and Greece). The aim is to develop a system for supporting entrepreneurs in distress, since pursuant to the EU Directive (COM/2016 723): Every Member State should establish a system for diagnosing and supporting companies in distress or which see the first symptoms of approaching difficulties. Only actions undertaken appropriately early may prevent the slowdown in the company’s development or, in extreme cases, its bankruptcy. Poland thus faces a great challenge. If the system proves to be efficient (as we deeply believe), it will be recommended for implementation in other European countries.

The Early Warning Europe project team, Early Warning Poland. From the left: Małgorzata Kuś-Konieczna and Małgorzata Mączyńska (PARP), Eleni Stecka and Katarzyna Gierczak (Fundacja Firmy Rodzinne).

For the project to be successful, a real network of cooperation must be established, involving all mentors and consultants. They are people with huge experience and extensive knowledge, who are willing to share it with others and are development-oriented. However, nobody is an expert in everything, so mutual support is needed, as is consulting on difficult cases and asking advice from specialists in the field in which others lack competence. The competences must first be identified and stakeholders must get to know each other and exchange contact details.

The two days were filled with intensive work. The discussion focused on how the cooperation with entrepreneurs should look like. Who should a mentor be? A confidant, an advisor or a coach? Or maybe all in one? Where are the limits of the mentor’s responsibility? Which values should mentors observe? How to choose an appropriate style of communication with a specific person? The way in which mentors operate also matters. Don’t they impose their will too much? Can they listen to understand their interlocutors? Questions are multiplying and new areas to be taken into account when working with entrepreneurs who need assistance are emerging. We must be aware of the great responsibility we are taking. We will be approached by people for whom we will be a lifeline at an appropriate moment (at least we hope so) and sometimes their last hope.

Cooperation skills, ability to establish appropriate relations, but also to put up barriers can (and must) be improved, as explained by the instructors conducting the workshops. It is yet another challenge and inspiration for entrepreneurs. Watching the participants during work and discussions, I could see that they like such challenges. Well, it is no accident that they were invited to join the project!

The workshops received very good marks from participants. They emphasized the unique atmosphere and the sense of taking part in something important and contributing to building a community of entrepreneurs who support one another.

In less than a month, we will meet at another workshop, and new mentors and consultants will join us in autumn. We would like to invite everyone with experience in business who would like to support the others!

Early Warning – trained and ready for action

Mentors and consultants in the Early Warning project have completed another training. In the course of the 2 day workshop, which took place on 12 and 13 June in Poznan they worked with trainers and exchanged their own, often difficult experiences of running a business. Thanks to meetings like this one, they will be able to prepare even better to assist entrepreneurs, whose companies got into troubles.

The voluntary workers already had one meeting behind them – on 15 and 16 May they had met for the first time, in order to get to know the project and one another better. The key to effectiveness of Early Warning is to delegate the right person to a person in need. Each entrepreneur reports a different problem, solving of which may require competences from a vast array of domains: from finances to psychology. Therefore one of the most important components of the first training was to draft the list of competences of each participant.

The objective of the second meeting was to focus on emotions of a person asking for assistance. Mentors and consultants learned about tools such as the Hudson’s Circle. It is a diagram facilitating definition of individual stages that should take place for the change to be successful. Particular attention was given to one of the most important and at the same time the most difficult stages – the mourning, that is the process related to saying farewell to what is changing, eg. people, ideas, workplace, employment conditions etc. The participants of the workshop learned that mourning had many phases, from denial, through rejection, to targeting, and finally acceptance. Coming to terms with a loss is the first step to go forward.

In order to empathise with an entrepreneur going through mourning, mentors and consultants worked in pairs and listened to their interlocutors, who told them about the most difficult moments related to running a company. This task helped all the participants a lot, as they learned that one of the parts of helping others is to listen to them carefully.

Moreover, the GROW model was presented during the workshop, which may be used by mentors as a useful tool for problem solving and achieving important goals. Each letter in the name of he model is ascribed to a specific domain. The letter G corresponds to the goal – this is where we should answer questions such as “What do you want to achieve?”, “How important is this goal to you?”, “How will you know that you have achieves the goal?”.  Another letter in the GROW model is R for reality, which makes one think about the present state of play and answer questions such as “What is happening right now?”, “What works, what does not?”, “What resources do you have?”.

The next letter is O for options, which proposes questions such as “What could you do to get closer to the goal?”, “What would you do, if you were not limited by resources?”.

The last letter is W for will or wrap up. In this step one should summarise answers to questions asked before and think about the best solution, where to start planning subsequent tasks and set the deadlines for their implementation.

Both the GROW model and Hudson’s Circle could help mentors to explore the situation in a company, analyse it, come up with a diagnosis and propose a solution.

A visit of mentors from Denmark and Germany was a very important part of the second day of the workshop. Haimin Wung Sung and Attila von Unruh came to Poland to present their experiences in working with companies in trouble. They had been doing this for many years, so their impressions turned out to be very valuable. They also managed to answer a lot of pervading questions and provide our Mentors with some peace of mind. They made it very clear that a mentor was a great support for a company, but does not bear responsibility for the final outcome of the process.

The first serious of workshops selected 12 Mentors, who are now ready to work with companies in trouble. They are equipped with new knowledge, tools, but first of all with great enthusiasm and willingness to act, which are necessary to work in the project. We keep our fingers crossed!

Mentors’ EWE profiles:

We are introducing the first mentors of the project, who will suport entrepreneurs in trouble and acompany them in the process of change.

mentor early warning Dariusz Bednarski

Dariusz Bednarski

Company: Grant Thornton

Industry: Tax, legal and business consultancy.

Business domains, in which I feel most competent:
Succession, taxes, legal structures of business, management of professional services companies

My passions:
My work, river barge sailing, motorcycling, travelling.

Why do I want to become a mentor:
I feel good, when I help entrepreneurs, when I can share my knowledge, experience and competences

mentor early warning Magdalena Kwiatkiewicz

Maria Magdalena Kwiatkiewicz

Company: YES

Industry: Jewellery

Business domains, in which I feel most competent:
Team management, researching customer needs and developing trade offers, sales, searching for passion​

My passions:
Photography, particularly portraits of people in their natural environment, expeditions to the end of the world. collecting of art and ethnic jewellery, helping others

 Why do I want to become a mentor:
In my company, I transferred most of operational responsibilities to my son, Tomasz Kwiatkiewicz. I had built teams, which can implement companies strategy of the company on their own and in an excellent manner.  Time has come to try and share my experience with others, who may have had less luck in running their companies. I fulfil many of my passions. I visited many places across the world. I bring back sets of photographies. I want to grasp the changing world and show it. I participate in several charity undertakings in Poland and Nepal. Mentoring fits very well into the form I satisfy my passions.

mentor early warning Henryk Pietraszkiewicz

Henryk Pietraszkiewicz

Retired banker

Industry: Finances

Business domains, in which I feel most competent:
Financial analysis of companies, lending for business operations, loan restructuring, restructuring of companies, company management, negotiations with banks, company crisis management plans, recovery of loans

My passions:
Broadly understood entrepreneurship in Poland, financial support instruments for micro, small and medium enterprises, politics and modern history, horse breeding, sports (football, tennis, cycling).

Why do I want to become a mentor:
Polish entrepreneurship is very young. It slowly enters its second generation. As any of us, it is prone to mistakes. I believe everything should be done to limit bankruptcies and liquidation of companies with interesting histories of their operations and a potential for further development. Companies get in trouble for various reasons. They are not always able to mobilise and draft remedial plans. Sometimes they lack knowledge or experience. More than 20 years of experience in banking and cooperation with different companies help me to quickly diagnose situation of companies and to draft recovery plans. Helping others, sharing one’s experience, is a very valuable paradigm. Participation in the mentoring programme is another interesting experience for me and great pleasure.


mentor early warning Ewa Magier

Ewa Magier

Company: Autosfera

Industry: Diagnostics and repair of motor vehicles

Business domains, in which I feel most competent:
Creation of leaders and substitutes, setting priorities and values in life and work, analysis of sales data, cost controlling, setting operational and strategic goals, process approach, quality systems, the newest ISO 9001:2015 standard taking into accounts risk management and the concept of organisation’s (company’s) stakeholders.

My passion:
I spent most of time on acquiring knowledge on sociology and management. I like to listen to accounts and arguments of people, whom I value for their attitudes, wisdom and knowledge. My passion is good conversation on non-trivial topics in the area of sociology, psychology, management, economics, history, culture. I am interested in art and creation. I paint and draw a little myself. I actively practice sports: running, swimming, cycling, roller-skating, skiing, windsurfing, tennis. My most recent passion is Argentinian tango – I dance and listen.

Why do I want to become a mentor:
I accepted myself and my place on Earth. I do not have problems with my ego. I am a person, who continuously explores and is open to new ideas, changes and diversity. I like people. Today, I feel mentally strong and I can share this power with others. I believe that mentoring and good conversation help people in many situations brought by life. I would like to get to know the methodology of this form of assistance better and help people to the best of my capacity and draw joy from my actions. I want to become a mentor, because I see people with less experiences and feel I could give them something of value. Sometimes, even just expressing interest in their problems is important. I am motivated by the feeling of gratitude for my life and faith in good nature of people. Moreover, I am motivated by other people being curious of the world. The joy of other people gives me strength.

mentor early warning Grzegorz Maślanko

Grzegorz Maślanko

Company: Grant Thornton

Industry: Tax and legal consultancy

Business domains, in which I feel most competent:
Tax and legal consultancy (commercial company law).

My passions:
Choir singing, mountain trekking.

Why do I want to become a mentor:
I believe that this way I can effectively support other people.

mentor early warning Ewelina Pisarczyk

Company: Majster-Pol Kosińscy

Industry: Manufacturing of construction chemicals

Business domains, in which I feel most competent:
Those requiring working with people. I put a lot of energy in relations and their proper development, as I believe that this is the only way to build something of value. I continue to improve my competences in management, on the principles leading the so called turquoise companies, where the boss is an advisor, helping employees to untap their potentials, rather then a supervisor and executor. I believe that in near future this model of management will replace traditional hierarchy based management patterns.

My passions:
I am lucky enough to pursue my passion almost continuously, as my passion is our family company. I am most inspired by the fact that I am able to create the reality around me, while the creation process itself, initiated in unexpected circumstances can be transformed into something tangible and bringing benefits. When I need to catch some breath from work, I escape to nature. A walk, working in the garden, growing own vegetables is my way to relax and stay in balance.

Why do I want to become a mentor:
The were several difficult moments in the history of our company, which took us where we are now, Looking back, none of us would want to change anything that happened, and knowing that it was very bad for a moment and this is why it is all well now, gives us certainty and the feeling that we will always manage. I look at being a mentor as a king of mission, as I want our history to give some comfort to other entrepreneurs and make them believe that even hopeless situations do not mean the end, and often the end of a certain stage means marks the beginning of something better. Moreover, I believe that the you can only achieve true success, if you know the taste of failure.


mentor early warning Grażyna Filipiak

Grażyna Filipiak

Company: ADR Grażyna Filipiak

finances, accounting, taxation

Business domains, in which I feel most competent:
Financial management, organisation of accounting systems, human resources management (hard HR).

My passions:
My passion, which I shall mention first, is good nutrition. The food we eat shapes our health, physical and mental fitness. The second passion is curiosity and interest in psychology, intuition and meditation. I practice sports – cycling, gymnastics, I love to walk (I do not like to return on the same path). My work is also my passion.

Why do I want to become a mentor:
I will be happy to share my years long professional experience, particularly in the area of running one’s own business. I could also be enriched with new skills.

mentor early warning Izabela Flejsierowicz

Izabela Flejsierowicz

Company: Hajduk Group

Industry: Agriculture

Business domains, in which I feel most competent:
Finances, management, relations

My passions:
Dog training, running, swimming, reading books, cinema

Why do I want to become a mentor:
Because someone invited me, because I like doing something new, because it is worth “giving” part of yourself to the World

mentor projektu early warning Kamila Piernik-Wierzbowska

Kamila Piernik- Wierzbowska

Company: M. Krotoski Attorneys and Legal Counsellors

Industry: Law

Business domains, in which I feel most competent:
Law and negotiations (assistance in conclusion of commercial and cooperation contracts, customer relations and handling of customer complaints and claims), development of legal structures for employees (regulations, employment contracts, proceedings related to modification of employment structure), commercial procedures with customers, assistance in elimination of payment bottlenecks, recovery of payment from customers, securing interests of companies in the lights of insolvency. Assistance in solving internal disputes within a company and in relations with other entities, as an external consultant.
So far I have primarily assisted entities from the sector of medium sized companies in manufacturing, commerce and services.

My passions:
I try to live my life to the full, not to spend my time solely on work and duties! I have a wonderful family, to which I happily devote my free time. I love music, both in the comfort of my home and at concerts, to which I love to travel. I like to show care to my friends and family, particularly during our meetings in the home garden. Recently I have been getting better and better in cooking and baking with unusual recipes.

Why do I want to become a mentor:
Each day of my professional life I meet representatives of business, company owners, which turn for help in day-to-day or long-term matters. In many cases problem arise from fear of facing a situation.  My task is to look at the global context of an issue, in order to be able to advise on further action. It is often stress, negative emotions or unpleasant experience that hinders finding a good solution.

People, with whom I am in contact, believe that I am empathic – hopefully this is true. In my life I am driven by the principle that understanding another person is the basis for our actions to be the way we want them to be. I know I could help others and I would not be able to omit an opportunity to do it.


mentor projektu early warning Marcin Kowalski

Marcin Kowalski

Company: Human Partner

Industry: Consulting

Business domains, in which I feel most competent:
I specialise in innovation, support for development of organisations, human resources management, including leadership. I have more than 10 years of experience in training and consulting sessions for senior management of small and medium enterprises. In 2015, I worked for the World Bank as an advisor in Poland.

My passions:
My professional passion is cooperation with entrepreneurs on ambitious projects, which contribute to development of companies both at the organisational and personal levels. It is also my hobby to acquire knowledge on management and innovation and to improve my competences.

Why do I want to become a mentor:
For a number of reasons: mentoring is viewed as the most effective method for development of employees and management of organisations. Individual mentoring sessions in the project are an opportunity to meet interesting entrepreneurs and to inspire and stimulate the development of their potentials. As a business development consultant I would like to continue to develop myself, and mentoring facilitates development of own interpersonal and leadership skills.

mentor early warning Ewa Magier

Ewa Jankowska

Company: Cafe Creator

Industry: Coffee and tea manufacturing

Business domains, in which I feel most competent:
Company management, development of a vision and strategy, identification of development paths, finding one’s niche in the market, introducing tranquillity and harmony to teams, searching for innovative products, negotiations, building long term success based on credibility of everything I do.

My passions:
Fiction and expert business literature, which continue to provide knowledge for taking personal and business decisions in constantly changing environment. The passion for reading translates into astrology and cosmetology with components of holistic ethics.

Why do I want to become a mentor:
Our family company CAFE CREATOR was established in August 2012. The company is owned by my daughter, Alicja Jankowska. We have a contract on cooperation and exploitation of my know-how, as a long time Production Director of Poznan Astra Coffee Roasting plant and a member of a research team.
My 40 years long professional and scientific experience and an enormous passion were the reasons for establishing our company. I am a recognised expert in the area of coffee quality and processing. My knowledge, competences and the will to share success are confirmed by numerous certificates and awards, both granted to me personally and to our young company. They show how I look at my business, myself and co-workers. In order to succeed one has to go through all levels of all stages of initiation – from glory to defeat, while failures are road signs on the way to success.

mentor early warning Victoria Iwanowska

Victoria Iwanowska

Company: Victoria Iwanowska

Industry: MICE, travel agencies

Business domains, in which I feel most competent:
I see business and private dreams as a GOAL. This is why I am most effective at the stage of vision, guiding the action and supporting implementation. I inspire and motivate teams to find the answer to “how” rather than to “if”. I believe we can!

My passions:
My biggest passions include travelling, interacting with different forms of culture and art, experiencing tastes and aromas.
I dive, dance, I get my endorphins from running, snowboarding, horse riding on a beach.
I rest in spas, practising yoga, reading, doing nothing and cooking for meals with friends.

Why do I want to become a mentor:
I wish to be a mentor in the Early warning programme to use my assets and professional experience to help other entrepreneurs. For 15 years I have ran a family company supporting companies and their employees in pursuing their dreams. In our company we also fulfil our own dreams and we have a lot of successes, big and small, but at the time of crisis it was very hard.
I believe that systematised support may assist entrepreneurs in recovering easier and faster, therefore today I want to support companies in their difficult moments.
I believe that by making small steps we can change the world.
I offer my experience, energy and commitment.

This page is part of the project Early Warning which has received funding from the European Union’s COSME Programme (2014-2020).

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