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Case study 1: Social entrepreneurship as an innovative business communal Society “Farmers' Selfaid” in Ozorkow, Poland.

Author: Mr Michał Sobczak, FRP, Lodz, Poland.


Communal Society “Farmers' Selfaid” is a very traditional form of social enterprise in Poland. This cooperative was established in 1945, so just after the second World War, and its aim was supporting the development of agriculture and rural areas. It used to be widely speeded form of social enterprises in Poland, but lately many of such organizations were unable to adopt to new market requirements. But, the one from Ozorkow doesn’t have such problems.

For the last 15 years they have had positive financial result. Cooperative is employer for 70 people and has 143 members – among them 2/3 are local farmers. Characteristic for them is also low rotation of employees, usually people are working until they go retired when they are replaced by younger once with higher qualifications. Lately, the average age of employee is about 40 and among them there is 10 people with university degree, which is quite high indicator considering the type of business the cooperative is running. Low rotation concerns also CEO of cooperative, because Mr. Dariusz Szpakowski is the head of this organization since 1999, when he had won open contest for this position.


Cooperative runs a multi-branch business. Half of their sales comes from distribution of coal and firewood. They also own chain of local shops, where they are selling mainly groceries including traditional bread from their own bakery. Cooperative is also packing and distributing in the cities and among retail chains (like Selgros, Leclerc) vegetables and fruits from local farmers. They are delivering to farmers’ fertilizers and feed for animals, as well as construction materials. The last area of business of them is rental unnecessary for cooperative’s needs real estates.

Moreover, they are partner in governmental program: Fruits and vegetables in schools – delivering healthy packages to 121 schools. Cooperative has also interesting investment product for their members. They are able to offer much better interest rate then in the banks (in 2016 it was 4%), which at the same time is cheaper source of financing their activities then any available loan in the bank.


Essential for all that activities is trust of their members and customers which they were building for a long time and are keeping due to many undertakings. Very important is also adherence to the good tradition. At the same time these are sources of their market advantage as well as:

  • The synergy related to the multi-branch.
  • Joint logistics of various departments of the company.
  • Being a kind of complete shopping center for farmers.
  • Innovative products and services.
  • Computerization of the company.
  • Cooperative is also giving significant input to local society by:
  • Employment of 8 disabled people.
  • Organizing with other local cooperatives festivals in Ozorkow.
  • Supporting financially and by their products local government initiatives.
  • Supporting schools, libraries and other local organizations.