In the first application round (which lasted from September to November 2017), nearly 1700 applications were submitted for a total of PLN 13 million (about EUR 3 095 238). Altogether, 952 loans were awarded with a total value of ca. PLN 7.1 million (EUR 1.7 million).
The loans were awarded to adults from all over Poland, with the applications being submitted by residents of more than 500 municipalities (out of 2478 municipalities in Poland). The highest amount of the awarded loan was PLN 100 thousand (for co-financing a professional pilot’s training course, the full cost of which was PLN 160 thousand), and the lowest - PLN 600 (for a course in the field of psychology), with the average loan value of PLN 7.2 thousand.
Women accounted for 52% of the borrowers. Nearly one loan in ten was contracted by persons currently unemployed who wished to improve their qualifications.Loans for postgraduate programmes and programming courses were the most popular (about 40% and 38%, respectively, of all the awarded loans).
The second application round started on 1 February 2018 and will continue until the funds are exhausted. The planned loan pool is PLN 12.5 million ( EUR 2.98 million).
Since June 2017, the partnership of the Regional Development Agency Foundation in Starachowice and the Cooperation Fund Foundation (as the operator) have implemented the project entitled “Loans for Learning”, financed from the Operational Programme Knowledge Education Development 2014-2020 (and co-financed from the European Social Fund).
The project is a pilot scheme testing a novel form of funding for adult lifelong learning and is one of the first examples of a new type of EU assistance in Poland – returnable aid.
So far, schemes offering support to lifelong learning have focused on aiding the supply side, i.e. co-financing of specific training courses or supporting the operations of training institutions. As part of our project, we are testing an instrument that reverses this pattern and supports the demand side, that is individuals interested in participating in various forms of education.
Individuals who wish to improve their skills and competences decide by themselves what kind of training or university education they need and when and how they want to take such training or course. They also choose the training provider or the higher education institution.
The project is addressed to applicants from all over Poland.
As part of the project, adults (whether in work, self-employed or out of work) can apply for a loan up to PLN 100 thousand (over EUR 23 thousand) to finance postgraduate programmes, courses or training of their choice (with the exception of first, second and third cycle programmes of study/ tertiary education) that last up to 24 months.
Applications are submitted via a dedicated online system, which means that the applicants’ presence at the Operator’s offices is not required.
The loans are interest-free, carry no additional costs (such as commission, fees, etc.) and can cover the whole cost of training/study.
The loans have a 3-year repayment period in equal monthly instalments.
The loan amount is directly transferred to an educational institution to fund the form of training chosen by the trainee. If the training or study programme is completed on time, up to 20% of the loan amount can be waived (25% in the case of low-income or unemployed participants who have found work thanks to the funded training). Such a waiver means that the last loan instalments do not have to be paid.
The Regional Development Agency Foundation in Starachowice (in the Świętokrzyskie Province) has for 25 years provided various supports to SMEs and start-up businesses such as loans, guarantees and advisory corporate services. The Agency has been a successful participant of many publicly funded programmes and projects, e.g. as a financial intermediary in the programme “My First Business – Help Out to Start Out” or as an operator of many different projects implemented as part of national and regional operational programmes.
The Cooperation Fund Foundation is one of Poland’s most experienced institutions involved in the management, implementation, accounting and promotion of projects co-financed from foreign aid funds. Over the years, the Foundation has built up a team with extensive expertise in evaluation, verification, financial controls and monitoring of programmes and projects. Thanks to the hundreds of completed projects, the Foundation has developed high work standards and won the trust of the most demanding clients. The Foundation has carried out many development projects commissioned by the Polish Government, e.g. provided active support to the process of Poland’s accession to the European Union structures. Currently, its key areas of operation include provision of audit, advisory and evaluation services to support the public and social economy sectors as well as various activities in the field of social economy, lifelong learning and enterprise, civic society development, gender equality and CSR.
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