Within the framework of investment projects financed by the World Bank (WB) every year there are about 100 thousand various tenders announced for the private sector. It is a huge market, worth USD 25 billion (PLN 80 billion) annually. However, companies from Poland have a very small share of this global pie.
‘On average, in a year Polish enterprises are awarded…. 12 contracts, predominantly on domestic market. Polish companies are practically invisible on that market abroad’, says Xavier Devictor, WB Country Manager for Poland and the Baltic Countries.
According to WB data, in 2007-12 about 600 thousand contracts were signed worldwide, and only 20 of those contracts were the ones awarded to Polish companies abroad. The biggest number of contracts were signed in the Ukraine (11), and the rest in Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, but also in Armenia and the Republic of Burundi.
‘Polish entrepreneurs should understand that the contracts financed by the World Bank and executed outside of Poland are a great opportunity. The potential of this market is underestimated’, says Xavier Devictor.
Potential profits can be reaped by companies from all the sectors, practically. Government agencies and the ministries which implement WB-financed projects commission everything – from large road contracts worth millions, through delivery of vaccines or school benches, through business services – ICT projects, expert opinions, advisory services. Virtually anyone can bid in a tender.
‘Each company can submit a bid, but to be awarded a contract, the bidder must prove that they are able to meet the terms of contract, i.e. that they have the experience, the equipment and the personnel required to execute the project’, says Xavier Devictor.
Behind Tanzania and Benin
WB Country Manager for Poland admits that there is a lot of competition in bidding. Polish companies have to compete against companies from all over the world. However, Polish companies are awarded WB tenders in Poland and win against the competition from Germany, France and other countries, so they might as well be the winners abroad.
‘If Polish enterprises are competitive domestically, they are competitive everywhere. Our bidding rules are always equal for everyone’, says Xavier Devictor.
In his opinion, Polish companies are not awarded contracts in foreign tenders financed by the WB not because those companies are weak, but because they do not give it a try.
‘Obviously, African markets are rather abstract for Polish firms. Poland does not have such links with those countries as France, for example. But for Korea, Africa is also a very distant market, and yet the number of contracts awarded to Korean firms in Africa is 20 times higher than the number of contracts awarded to companies from Poland’, says Xavier Devictor.
He gives an example: in terms of the number of contracts awarded in the health sector, Polish companies are ranked 31st, right after Benin. Companies from El Salvador execute four times more contracts, and the companies from Tanzania twice as many as the companies from Poland.
‘One could hardy call Benin, El Salvador or Tanzania marker leaders in that regard. I am sure that in that context Polish companies have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of’, says Xavier Devictor.