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 Note from Editors:  

Joanna Sawicka left Poland, with a dream to work for  a life where she would not want for anything. After 9 years, she came back for a visit and found big changes – businesses, infrastructure and better opportunities. She  said “the Poland of today reminds me of America.”  


by Frank Holmes

Joanna Sawicka still remembers having to wait in line for hours to buy food and school supplies. In Communist-controlled Poland, such basic goods were rationed. Families received special government-issued cards that permitted them to buy only the minimal amount of meat per month. This experience made a lasting impression on Joanna as a child and inspired her to work toward a life in which she would not want for anything.

Now the research analyst for our Emerging Europe Fund (EUROX), Joanna recently visited her native Poland and found it to be a drastically different country from the one she grew up in. I sat down with her to chat about her travels, and where she thought the Eastern European country might be headed from here.

So tell me about your trip.

Basically it was a family trip. I got to spend time with my parents and some old friends, not to mention check out how Poland looks now and see the changes that have happened since I last visited nine years ago.

I combined the trip with a short, two-day visit to Warsaw, where I attended the Capital Markets Summit at the Warsaw Stock Exchange. The main topics of discussion during the conference included and the growing role of debt-capital markets. We also discussed the continued effort to privatize Polish businesses, a process that began in 1991 after the fall of communism.

Emerging Eastern European country is  like America.

Mall in Warsaw, Poland.


What’s changed since your last visit?

I saw big changes. There’s now a small on every street corner. A lot of my old friends own businesses now. Poland is the largest beneficiary of European Union funds, and people are clearly taking advantage of having more money and better opportunities.

Another change I saw were the highways and roads being developed. They’re so much bigger and better from when I was a child. The Fiats and Polonezes have been replaced with Mercedes and BMWs.


#Poland is like america.

CCC is a Polish shoe-and-handbag retailer.


On the other hand, and clothing have become very expensive. I was also able to visit CCC, one of the holdings in the Emerging Europe Fund. It’s a retail shoe-and-handbag store that looks a little like Payless ShoeSource, but it’s bigger and nicer. It’s being managed very cost-efficiently because they have few people working there.



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