Entrepreneurs over 50 in Poland: A Growing Driving Force of the Economy

Katarzyna Dębkowska
Katarzyna Dębkowska

Last year, individuals over the age of 50 established about 35,000 sole proprietorships in Poland, accounting for approximately 12% of all new businesses, according to the Polish Economic Institute’s “Entrepreneurs 50+” report. In this group of new entrepreneurs, the majority (60%) are men. However, among retirees starting their own businesses, women lead the way. Both genders cite the need for independence and the desire to use their experience and knowledge as their main motivation. Some admit that starting a business was the only way to stay in the job market.

Approximately 12% of all new businesses in Poland are established by those over 50. Notably, around 40% of these are started by retirees, with women more likely to start a business in retirement than men, representing 63% in this group.

Economic activity among people over 50 in Poland slightly exceeds the average EU level. In the EU, about 18% of those aged 50+ actively engage in entrepreneurship, compared to 23% in Poland, ranking third in the EU behind Greece and Italy.

Polish entrepreneurs over 50, however, employ workers less frequently compared to their EU counterparts (21% vs. 32%).

The motivations for starting a business after 50 are linked to individual predispositions, and family, professional, and financial situations. The main motive is a sense of independence (71%). However, 63% indicated that starting a business was a way to maintain professional activity after losing a job, suggesting ageism may influence this trend.

Over half of the respondents said that transitioning to their own business was a way to balance professional and personal life. For 62%, the motivation was the prospect of higher earnings than employment. Interestingly, another 62% stated it was not out of necessity, but rather fulfilling their dreams.

Difficulties in starting a business include obtaining financing, with approximately half struggling with access to external capital, marketing funds, and high employment costs. Many also faced administrative barriers and difficulties in acquiring customers.

Entrepreneurs who start businesses in retirement feel comfortable with market realities and complain less about barriers than their younger counterparts. According to the PIE report, 70% of entrepreneurs over 50 are satisfied with their decision to start a business.

According to PIE experts, entrepreneurs choose industries based more on market success analysis than chance. The most common sectors for people over 50 are trade, healthcare and social assistance, and construction, with men favoring construction and women trade.

The PIE report indicates that 45% of businesses founded by people over 50 have been operating for less than five years, while a similar percentage has been on the market for 10 to 25 years.