Enterprise Europe Network

From computers to cosmetics

The Enterprise Europe Network helps a Polish SME shift its focus from IT to beauty and hooks it up with a Spanish niche supplier.

Polish entrepreneur Mariusz Cichy owns Provivere, an SME in central Łodz that used to supply computer software and hardware to the Foundation for Promotion of Entrepreneurship (FPE), which is one of nearly 600 Network partner organisations helping small businesses spread their wings.

When Provivere considered branching out into selling cosmetics, it went straight to the Network.

"We praised the idea of diversification and pointed them towards the natural-cosmetics niche," says FPE information officer Krzysztof Kucharski, who drafted a profile for the Network's powerful business matchmaking database.

In less than two weeks, a response came from Naturalia, a Spanish maker of paraben-free cosmetics and a Network client of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Navigation of Valencia. "Although they were already exporting," says Network expert Rut Soriano, "we help them find distributors in new markets." At this stage, contact details were exchanged and Provivere was alerted to the Spanish partner's interest in collaboration.

Provivere has since become an exclusive importer and distributor of Naturalia products in Poland. Kucharski says, "We provided the possibility of quick matchmaking with the right partner." Provivere is now selling a wide range of Naturalia's aloe vera and olive-derived creams and lotions to retail, wholesale and online customers. "As a local SME, it is impossible to go everywhere on our own, so the Network is invaluable," says Javier Chova, Naturalia's export manager.

Provivere has also already seen a 15 % rise in sales from the new business. The expansion has provided the company with a buffer against the worst effects of the economic downturn, as owner of Provivere, Mariusz Cichy, notes: "The collaboration with Naturalia allows us to become very competitive at a time of hard conditions resulting from the global financial crisis. Our sales are increasing and this is very positive. We have unique high quality products and an increasing number of satisfied clients.

"I think the Enterprise Europe Network is a very good and professional partner for small companies that want to go international," Cichy continues, "The assistance of the Network has paid off for us. It saved us time needed in searching for a partner. Our cooperation with Naturalia is an example of - thanks to the Network - how quickly and safely you can get in contact with the right partner."

Apart from the matchmaking service which brought about this very lucrative partnership, FPE is involved in a range of other activities. Kucharski concludes, "We offer tailor-made services for businesses, a one-stop-shop for information on EU legislation, funding opportunities, assistance in finding business partners and help in developing research and innovation capacities."