This profile was prepared when Pawel Lukasiak was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998.
The New Idea
Pawel calls his idea "building a smooth gearbox" between business and the civic sector. To develop creative cross-sector cooperation, he has launched a comprehensive program to inform Polish business about opportunities for investment in local non-profit organizations and to heighten their awareness of the advantages they could derive from such investments (such as public image enhancement). At the same time, Pawel is educating Polish NGOs to help sharpen their entrepreneurial skills and make their programs comprehensible in rigorous business terms. Finally, he aims to educate youth and business students in order to build social awareness early in their careers. His program addresses a new and particular need: the present withdrawal of Western foundation money from Central Europe is making Polish NGOs dependent on local businesses as their primary sources of funding.To complement his educational projects, Pawel has also initiated a number of community funds to facilitate private sector investment. Together, he hopes his education campaign and community funds will redefine the relationships between private and civic sectors completely. Whereas the predominant paradigm currently revolves around the idea of charity-a notion that carries little appeal for Poland's nascent (and by no means wealthy) private sector-Pawel wants to press his alternative idea of "social investment." Social investments promise returns in the form of positive PR and tax writeoffs, and if popularized, can help transform relations between private and civic sectors throughout Poland.