On June 9, Former Vice President of the Polish-American Enterprise Fund Francis Skrobiszewski delivered a lecture reflecting on the successes of post-Communist reconstruction efforts in Central Europe. He discussed his ten years of experience as Vice President of the Polish American Enterprise Fund, and how its unique model led to remarkable achievements.
Mr. Skrobiszewski explained how the Enterprise Fund’s independent nature aided its ability to be flexible and manage risks. The Fund, authorized by Congress and funded by USAID, had development objectives, but these were achieved on commercial terms. The plan focused on providing loans and grants to small entrepreneurs and businesses. These loans were strictly negotiated in order to avoid corruption and inefficiencies. Mr. Skrobiszewski noted that investing directly in businesses helped to create lasting jobs.
By contrasting the Marshall Plan Fund’s state-to-state investment approach, Mr. Skrobiszewski showed how an investment plan focused on small business investment helps to create real sustained development.
Without government interference, and with a board comprised of prominent businesspeople rather than politicians, the Polish-American Enterprise Fund was able to adjust its business model to the conditions on the ground. Analyzing the “ecosystem” of the local economy was key to organizing a successful development program, said Mr. Skrobiszewski.
Due to its successes, the Polish-American Enterprise Fund was able to return $120 million of the original $255 million dollar grant back to the U.S. government.
Francis Skrobiszewski has been deeply engaged in transformation initiatives of former Soviet Bloc countries for the past twenty five years. He drafted the business plan and served as Vice President of the Polish-American Enterprise Fund. Additionally, he served as Senior Vice President of the Hungarian-American Enterprise Fund. He has continued to advise similar funds in Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
This event was the last in the Charles Koch Foundation Series on Economics and Foreign Policy at IWP.