Unusual forms of running a business

Service Business

Running your own business involves meeting many legal and economic requirements, as well as perfect organization of work and determination. Are you considering starting self-employment? Learn about unusual forms of running a business that primarily aim to achieve social profit, and only then financial profit.

Unusual forms of running a business: social cooperatives

Social cooperatives are very popular in France and Spain. In Poland, they operate on the basis of the Act of April 27 on social cooperatives. They are aimed at professional activation and social integration of the unemployed and socially excluded.

To establish a social cooperative, at least 5 natural or 2 legal persons are required. A maximum of 50 people can work in the cooperative.


If a social cooperative was created as a result of the transformation of a disabled or blind cooperative, there is no upper limit of members.

The atypical nature of social cooperatives is that they have the characteristics of both an enterprise and a non-governmental organization. At least half of its members must come from people at risk of social exclusion for the entire duration of the cooperative's operation.

People at risk of social exclusion who can set up a social cooperative are:

  • the unemployed (in accordance with the Employment Promotion Act),

  • the disabled (in relation to the law on vocational and social rehabilitation and employment of the disabled),

  • homeless people (who implement the program of getting out of homelessness in accordance with the provisions on social assistance),

  • alcoholics and drug addiction after drug addiction treatment,

  • mentally ill (mental health regulations),

  • former prisoners,

  • refugees implementing the integration program.


People at risk of social exclusion should have a certificate confirming belonging to the above-mentioned groups. Declarations are issued, among others, by: poviat labor offices, drug addiction treatment centers, social welfare centers.

Social cooperatives are managed in a democratic manner. There is no rigid hierarchy in them, salaries are equal. However, there are shadows of this economic activity. According to the statistics of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, in 2010-11, every fourth cooperative had no influence. Half did not exceed 21 thousand. PLN of income per year. It should be remembered that the founders of the cooperative can obtain funding from the Labor Fund, as well as EU subsidies.

Foundations as a form of business

Foundations and associations are less common forms of economic activity. They can only operate for the purpose of implementing their statutory objectives. The legal basis for the operation of the foundation is the Act of April 6, 1984 on foundations. The Foundation has legal personality. This means that it can acquire rights and obligations on its own behalf. All agreements apply to the entire foundation, not its individual members.

The Foundation is established to pursue socially or economically useful goals. In particular, this applies to such spheres as:

  • healthcare,

  • science and education,

  • Culture and art,

  • care of monuments,

  • social assistance.

The Foundation may be established by both a natural person and a legal entity.

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The association is a voluntary association established for non-profit purposes. Their activity is regulated by the Act of April 7, 1989 - Law on Associations. Like foundations, associations have legal personality.

Associations may be established by Polish citizens who have full legal capacity. In addition, they must be adults and not incapacitated. Children and adolescents under the age of 16 may, however, belong to the association if their parents or legal guardians give their consent. Young people aged 16-18 may additionally exercise passive and active voting rights within the association, provided that the majority of the board members will be persons with full legal capacity. Associations may also be created by foreigners registered in Poland. On the other hand, foreigners not registered in our country can only belong to them.

Both the association and the foundation are registered in the National Court Register. They may start their statutory activity only after being entered in the register. The procedure is free of charge.

It should be remembered that if an association intends to run a business, it must be registered in the Register of Entrepreneurs of the National Court Register. It is connected with the fulfillment of tax obligations (e.g. keeping accounts, filing tax returns). The cost of this procedure is PLN 1,500. An association, like a foundation, may apply for recognition as a public benefit organization.

It is worth noting that both foundations and associations are established for a non-profit purpose. Their purpose is not to provide financial benefits to members. The assets of the foundation or association must be used for the implementation of statutory activities. The foundation's income allocated to statutory activities is exempt from corporate income tax if it relates to the activities of:

  • scientific,

  • educational,

  • cultural,

  • in the field of physical culture and sport,

  • environmental protection,

  • health protection and social assistance,

  • vocational and social rehabilitation of the disabled,

  • religious worship.