Interview with Piotr Jerzy Gulczyński

Elwira Bocheńska: Today we meet in Tallinn, and there is an office of the KREA VITAE Foundation in the very centre of Warsaw. What is the Foundation and why is it developing in two capitals?

Piotr Gulczynski: The Foundation’s activity is linked to the need to take further action for a better world based on improving the level of education and equal opportunities in the development of children and young people. Expanding the scope of charitable and pro-educational activities is part of the development strategy of the Riva Finance Group, with which I cooperate. From the very beginning, our business talks related to innovative pro-environmental projects have been accompanied by the topic of the expansion of Riva Group’s foundation activities. During this time, Riva has also been expanding its companies in Estonia, which, in the context of the regulation of modern financial instruments and raising investment capital, bodes well for the future. In Poland, for the time being, different solutions are lacking. My experience in organising and managing NGOs, as we discussed, proved interesting enough to the Riva Group that they entrusted me with the management of the Foundation over time.

Elwira Bocheńska: What is the main objective of the KREA Vitae Foundation, what is the scope of its activities?

Piotr Gulczynski: In the shortest terms: the improvement of education and wellbeing of the younger generation. Our activities are directed towards children and young people. We support the development of children’s education from an early age until they graduate. In addition, we take care of the physical and mental health of young people, the development of the necessary infrastructure, meeting needs when it comes to nutrition and possible medical assistance. We support the development of talented ones. We are creating a model of support in which we surround the ‘scholarship recipients’ of our Foundation with care from early childhood until they enter adulthood.

Elwira Bocheńska: In which countries do you operate and what developments are you planning? What is the Foundation’s area of activity?

Piotr Gulczynski: Global, at the moment we are developing our activity to operate worldwide. Of course, we are not immediately fully developing all projects. I am not hiding the fact that we have such a plan to start creating reality, and not just responding to the needs that will be signalled to us. However, everything takes time. We have established contacts and are building partnerships with a number of institutions already present on the market. In our philosophy, we rely first and foremost on experienced local partners. Numerous local organisations know their environment and the needs of young people the best. We try to provide funding to support their projects and activities and develop our own programmes dedicated to specific geographical or problem areas.

Elwira Bocheńska: You’re talking about children, but looking at your previous activities, one gets the impression that you’ve never dealt with this area of NGO activity?

Piotr Gulczynski: In a number of institutions I have worked with, youth-related projects have been very important. Starting from the end, in the pro-social activities of the Fundacja na Rzecz Zdrowego Starzenia się (whose name in English sounds much better “Healty Aging Foundation”), in accordance with the motto of our activities, we said that a healthy old age begins in a healthy childhood. Hence, the issues of proper nutrition, motor development and the need for comprehensive health education are very close to my heart. In my earlier activities, which can be described as socio-political, where I was never directly involved in politics, I focused largely on educational projects, peace education, education focused on active citizenship, human rights and personal freedoms. It has also always been close to my heart to promote mutual understanding between people from different parts of the world, and I have often succeeded in doing this. What is valuable is that most of my experiences are international activities, often carried out in such exotic places as Burma, Cuba, Tibet, Ghana or Venezuela. Therefore, I hope that the experiences, contacts and friendships I have made over the past 25 years are my good contribution to the development of the KREA Vitae Foundation.

Elwira Bocheńska: It is impossible not to ask about the authorities with whom you have had the opportunity to work: Professor Bartoszewski, President Wałęsa, numerous Nobel Peace Prize winners….


Piotr Gulczynski: I consider it a great honour and privilege to have had and to have the opportunity to meet exceptional people who have left their mark on history. Each of these personal relationships is a lesson that enriches my experience. I think that the authority of people who, through their actions and contributions to our thinking, have made a difference, helped, become a model for others, is a tangible point of reference for generations to come. Hence, I still hope to build on my existing relationships, to invite people who can contribute to the Foundation’s activities to cooperate with me. I think that in developing individual educational programmes, we will, as often as possible, draw on the examples of those people whose wisdom shaped, for example, the Polish transformation during the Solidarity era.

Elwira Bocheńska: In your experience, is there room to develop such a wide-ranging global organisation, with so many major players already on the market?

Piotr Gulczynski: Just look at the scale of the needs and problems. I think that within our activities we bring, on the one hand, a fresh perspective on the possibility of helping and a holistic approach to the development and education of a young person. On the other hand, we have interesting ideas about how to encourage the involvement of the people and companies we invite to partner with KREA Vitae in our activities. Remember that this is a project that not only stems from a dream of a better world, but is initiated by a strong group of companies with concrete financial capital. The resources developed in the business activities of the Riva Finance Group and the personal experience of a group of collaborators, gained in a number of NGOs and social activities in the international arena, combine in the KREA Vitae Foundation to create a synergy of ideas and opportunities for action.

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