Access to finance: vital ingredient for a healthy start

A small Polish start-up selling custom-built kitchen units has been able to achieve exponential growth thanks to tailor-made financing backed by the EU.

Founded by two colleagues in July 2011 with €1 500, 3TOP has been able to establish itself as a popular provider of bespoke kitchen design in the Lublin area (South-East Poland).

To get there, the two entrepreneurs needed to secure finance to invest in machinery and transport. The EU provided help with the first step: as the micro-business had no credit history, an EU-backed lease enabled them to invest €20 000 in two machines.

“Thanks to that first lease agreement, we could establish a credit history,” explains co-owner Paweł Tomczyk. Building on this track record, the partners obtained another lease agreement to buy a vehicle, and could open a showroom in Lublin a few months later. Staff expanded from 2 to 10, and turnover grew tenfold.

Information about finance available was provided by the Polish contact point for EU Financial Instruments, a one-stop-shop providing free-of-charge support to entrepreneurs seeking access to finance. The instruments can take on the form of loans, leasing, loan guarantees or venture capital.

This type of support is currently made available through the EU’s COSME programme.

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