Since the first day of the war, messages of support and solidarity with Ukraine and its citizens have been sent from almost all over the world. Ukraine needs immediate and concrete assistance. As a socially committed bank, we have helped refugees from Ukraine in several different ways, thus fulfilling our mission and values.
Cooperation with the National Bank of Ukraine
Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego (BGK), on behalf of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU), opened a special account to which funds may be transferred by individuals to help Ukraine. The funds will be channelled directly to the National Bank of Ukraine, which will use them for priority measures. The opening of a PLN account and providing such support to the NBU was initiated by the team of the Polish Payment Standard, the operator of the BLIK system. To facilitate providing the support even more, BLIK made it possible to transfer funds to this account with BLIK. The account is used to collect cash in PLN and make non-cash settlements. In April 2022, over PLN 50 million was paid to the account.
BGK also made a donation of PLN 30 million to support Ukraine.
Cooperation with the European Commission
At the initiative of BGK, the EU mobilised funds from the European Commission’s Team Europe Initiative for the Eastern Partnership on COVID-19 vaccine sharing for emergency aid to Ukraine. The Eastern Partnership is part of the European Neighbourhood Policy, which is designed to deepen the EU’s political ties and economic integration with the six Eastern European partner countries, including Ukraine. Humanitarian aid financing comes from resources that have not yet been used to support the mitigation of the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of this assistance, the European Union provided nearly EUR 10 million to emergency aid for Ukraine engaged in war. Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego will act as an intermediary in financing aid using those funds. The support will be organised by a social partner – the International Solidarity Foundation (ISF). The assistance consists in examining the demand, based on which goods are purchased and delivered to Ukraine. These include food, hygiene and medical products. The main recipients of humanitarian aid will be Ukrainian communes and municipalities, hospitals and fire brigades.
Ukraine Aid Fund
BGK also launched the Ukraine Aid Fund. It was established under a special law to prevent a humanitarian crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It is intended to provide financing or co-financing for the implementation of tasks intended to provide aid to Ukraine, in particular Ukrainian citizens suffering from consequences of the war, redemption of and payment of interest on bonds and the cost of their issue, and the reimbursement of expenses or costs incurred in carrying out tasks. The tasks may be performed both in Poland and abroad. The fund’s resources come from: contributions from public entities (excluding local governments’ legal persons), subsidies from the state budget, proceeds from treasury securities, other income (including donations), funds which, subject to the approval by the European Commission, may be used to support the performance of the tasks, and proceeds from bonds issued by the Bank.
BGK acts as an operator, i.e. prepares and updates an annual financial plan, manages accounts, manages incoming and outgoing payments, manages liquidity, manages debt and prepares a report on the implementation of the financial plan. The law on the basis of which the fund was set up does not specify the exact time limit or any time frame.
Liquidity loan for social economy enterprises
Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego (BGK), in consultation with the Ministry of Funds and Regional Policy, as a matter of urgency introduced a liquidity loan for social economy entities (SEEs), the so-called mission loan. Support will be provided to help people fleeing Ukraine. The loan is addressed to social economy entities, i.e. non-governmental organisations, social cooperatives, among others. The mission loan allows SEEs to help persons who have arrived from Ukraine (those SEEs whose business is consistent with the type of aid covered by the loan, e.g. SEE that conducts catering activities may receive a loan for giving out meals) or create jobs for them.
The funds may be used to: finance employees’ salaries (including their components payable to the Social Insurance Institution, Tax Office), cover public charges, repay trade liabilities, cover the costs of infrastructure use, etc., ensure the supply goods, semi-finished products, etc., cover administrative costs, purchase small equipment.
For five weeks over 250 BGK employees have been involved in providing assistance at the COS Torwar Arena. It was the first stopping place in Warsaw, where refugees from Ukraine could rest after a multi-day journey, plan further steps and take advantage of the necessary support. BGK volunteers working 24 hours a day have helped over 5,000 people over the course of 35 days. Several collections of the most essential items for women and children were organised. Since the beginning of Russian aggression BGK employees have been involved in helping people in need. They distributed warm meals, beverages, sweets and fruit at the Torwar Arena, they helped to collect and sort clothes and other goods in the chemicals and food warehouse, and they took care of children in the playroom. They provided psychological and legal care to the Ukrainian refugees. Many BGK’s volunteers who know Ukrainian or Russian worked as interpreters. The J.K. Steczkowski BGK Foundation distributed than 11,000 meals, over 8,000 soups and nearly 18,000 sandwiches. In addition, they handed over washing machines, dryers, microwave ovens, warehouse racks and computers.
Another BGK foundation – the Empiricism and Knowledge Foundation, launched its own project offering support for refugees from Ukraine in finding employment. Thanks to the Foundation’s activities combining competences from different fields, every job seeker will be able to join the Polish labour market. The Foundation wants to help people of various competences and qualifications who found shelter in Poland gain employment. We focus on helping finding a target employment, consistent with professional qualifications and temporary employment, ensuring gainful activity for the period of learning the Polish language and ultimately target employment, consistent with professional qualifications. The Foundation will offer aid in preparation of application documents and help refugees familiarise themselves with the Polish labour market, as well as offer legal aid and provide assistance in connecting them with employers and employment agencies specialising in specific market segments, learning Polish and psychological support. Three organisations with different competences are involved in this proprietary project. This approach is possible by combining the experience and resources of the Empiricism and Knowledge Foundation, BIGRAM and Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego, which is the project sponsor. The result of this cooperation can be found on the project’s website at https://vdoma.org/vdoma, which also offers a recruitment platform. The pilot will last three months, thanks to which approximately 1,000 people should find work in Poland.
On 25 April 2022, BGK organised a charity concert in Warsaw – “Glory to Ukraine. Today, Ukraine is a woman”, with free admission. The concert was dedicated to women who are in Poland, separated from their families, and who need mental support in particular. The concert featured a fundraiser for Ukraine.