Poles Run 24,000 Firms over Here; BANK TARGETS MIGRANTS AND SAYS WE ARE SEEING START OF AN ECONOMIC PHENOMENON

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Byline: ANDREW MOODY

Polish immigrants are not just coming to Britain to find work.

Many are setting up businesses that contribute to the UK economy and create jobs for other workers. The number of Polish-owned businesses in Britain will soon rise to 24,000, according to the Polish embassy, making it one of the largest immigrant businessowning communities.

HSBC has become the first British bank to target the Polish business community directly by setting up services addressing the specific needs of entrepreneurs from that country.

The bank has launched a Polish Business Unit with Polish-speaking staff at branches in Ealing and Hammersmith, west London, where there are particularly large Polish communities.

Sandeep Sachdeva, head of multicultural commercial banking at HSBC, says the bank is simply responding to demand. 'The Polish immigrant community is the fastest growing in the UK and many of its members are opting to go into business,' he says.

'They are well educated and hard working and they are going to continue establishing a lot of businesses here. I think what we are seeing is the start of an economic phenomenon.' Poland joined the European Union in 2004 and there are now estimated to be 600,000 Poles living in the UK. Though many carpenters, electricians and builders have set up businesses in construction and property maintenance, increasingly Poles are opening garages, travel agencies, bakeries and restaurants.

Damian Pawlak, 27, who runs Perfect Crystal Windows, based at the Cumberland Business Park in Park Royal, northwest London, with his twin brother Krystian, has had firsthand experience of the problems new arrivals to Britain face when they set up in business.

'It can be difficult for us to access financial services, particularly when starting up a new company,' he says. …