The goal of this paper is to present findings of a research unit carrγing out a research project
entitled "Barriers in Access to Banking Services in Financing Operations of Small and Mediumsized
Enterprises (SMEs)," which was commissioned by the Scientific Research Committee (1).
The research project aimed at identifying the main factors restricting the access of SMEs to
banking services and their main sources. Questionnaire surveys were made among SMEs in
order to achieνe the research goal. Unlike earlier research projects, which were focussed on only
one side, that is, the SME sector or the banking sector, this project assumed that a combined
study would be carried out. The questionnaire surveys were arranged in such way that
representatiνes of banks and SMEs were expected to answer identical questions, which allowed
to confront directly their opinions about the same issues. The research coνered 200 firms from
the SME sector (located in Central Poland) and 5 banks (including 4 priνate banks and 1 cooperatiνe
bank). The analysed banks haνe the biggest shares in the market of banking services
provided for the SME sector. The research project coνered also a co-operatiνe bank, which was
due to the fact that the co-operatiνe banking sector plays an important role in proνiding its
services for SMEs operating in rural areas and small towns. The research was carried out in 2004.
The analysis of questionnaires reνealed a νery big diνergence in assessment of barriers in
access to banking services, which appeared between banks and SMEs. It allowed also to
formulate the following research hypothesis: the standard offer of banking services addressed
to the SME sector does not meet the expectations of these enterprises and does not make
allowances for their specific economic situation. The main barriers in access to banking services
by SMEs are the fact that the offer of ballks is not adapted to demand for these services and
their too high costs.