Erste Group has opened its doors to everyone more than 200 years ago – even to those, who didn’t have access to banking services before. Thus, Social Banking is deeply rooted in our history and is still an integral part of our DNA. As one of the leading banks in Central and Eastern Europe, we see it as our purpose and responsibility to ensure everyone in our region has access to basic financial products. We support those, who are at risk of poverty or social exclusion, thereby enabling economic growth and prosperity.
Why Social Banking?
Even though the CEE region has seen remarkable economic development in the past decade, millions of people in our region are still at risk of poverty with no or limited access to financial services, while additionally facing pressing social challenges such as unemployment, lack of elderly care and access to affordable housing.
With the joint efforts of Erste Group’s network of local banks, ERSTE Foundation and our partners, we aim to:
Enable job creation and self-employment by financially supporting starting and micro entrepreneurs
Foster the impact growth of social organizations
Improve the financial stability and inclusion for people on low incomes or in financial difficulties
“Social Banking is one of the clearest ways in which we at Erste live up to our founding purpose and it has become one of the cornerstones of our ESG strategy (Environmental-Social-Governance). But our commitment doesn’t stop at words: we provided over 50 million Euros to Social Banking clients in 2020 and also helped thousands of them expand their business and financial knowledge through trainings. Our Social Banking activities aren’t charity – they’re part of a viable social business approach that ensures we can make a long-term sustainable contribution to the well-being of people in our region.” Bernd Spalt, CEO of Erste Group.
We focus on providing our clients with tailored financial products and know-how, such as financial and business education, consulting, and mentoring. In this way, we help them not only improve their current economic situation, but also build a sustainable base for making the right financial decision and thus reach financial stability in the long-term.
People in financial difficulties
Erste Social Finance
Following the purpose to disseminate prosperity and provide access to financial services for all, Erste Social Finance Holding was established as a joint venture of Erste Group Bank and ERSTE Foundation in 2008. As a social enterprise, Erste Social Finance aims for positive social impact and sustainable financial results. The company acts as a social finance investor and intermediary in the region of Central and Eastern Europe. Our main activities include investing into social business models, which are financially sustainable and launching innovative social finance instruments.
We are always excited about our clients’ successes – to not only see them grow and prosper, but also make a positive impact in our region. Watch some of their personal stories here:
Zweite Sparkasse, Austria
The husband was gone, the debts still there. Jutta faced her financial problems with the support of Zweite Sparkasse. Today she is debt free and happy again.
Cafe Vollpension, Austria
By 2060 Vienna will hold a share of 23% elderly people. Nowadays there is a great deal of ambiguity in society towards the attitude between the aged and youth: many people perceive a lack of understanding on both sides. The stereotype of old age is still wrongly related to dependency, sickness, loneliness and social isolation. What it takes to change this stereotype is an honest dialogue between the generations within the right environment.
Května zahrada (Flower garden), Czech Republic
Children may experience a range of emotional, psychological and physical problems and trauma as a result of being abused or neglected. They are more likely than others to have lack of self-esteem and distrust of adults, to be self-destructive or aggressive. In some cases this may lead to abuse of drugs or alcohol, or becoming young offenders or homeless.
Meet Ferdinand Raditsch Director of the Květné zahrady (Flower garden), an organization engaged in the provision of social services and work with vulnerable children and youth at-risk.
Family Lulu and Domnica Stoian, Romania
Beside the good times in life, there are also bad times. The Stoian family has faced them both. But they have never given up fighting, knowing that they have each other and their family by their side and can overcome any obstacle as long as they are together.
BCR Social banking over-indebted advisory is dedicated to supporting and educating financially distressed families and individuals to improve their money management skills. Thus it is empowering and helping them to achieve financial stability step-by-step.
Housing Project for socially excluded people, Slovakia
The Housing Project for socially excluded in Slovakia aims to enable and empower people from the Roma community to build their own houses by providing them access to tailor-made purpose loans. An important part of this project is the financial literacy training and mentoring; to become eligible for the financing families have to build savings for one year. During this time they also get building skills training, so that they can be able to build the house by themselves. Meet Adriana and Igor and find out why they decided to join this project and how challenging it is to change stereotypes.
Eco-hostel "Republik”, Serbia
Marko Ristovski is an owner of the Eco-hostel "Republik” in Uzice, Serbia. He is developing his sustainable business idea with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. “At first, not many people believed in my idea. Yet, in the end, I succeeded - we are now, opening our second hostel!” Watch the video and see how he is contributing to the community and the development of the tourism in his own town.
Maria Căşmăşan lives in Leurda with her husband Ioan and her children Raul and Raluca. They have a flock of sheep counting 500 heads from which they produce lamb meat, milk and cheese. “Originally we’ve started the business to raise money to move to the city. Meanwhile we decided to finish our house, arrange a nice place here and have a decent, quiet living. Watch her story and find out why.
Rehabilitation centre, Hungary
Erzsi Szekeres is mother of a disabled boy and founder of Rehabilitation centre in Csömör. Thirty years ago it was the first non-profit organisation in Hungary. Back then, even the experts did not believe that disabled people can work. Learn more about her personal story and how she established not only a working place, but also a home and family environment for these people.
Organic baby clothes, Croatia
“I have always wanted to start my own company”, says Silvija Celjak, a young innovative woman producing baby clothes and accessories out of organic cotton and bamboo fabric that is a novelty on the Croatian market. “Believe in yourself! Never give up on your dreams, you have to be persistent and fight for what you want!" Watch her entrepreneurial story and find out more about her motivation.
Making an impact
At Erste Group, we believe in banking for financial and social inclusion. Our Social Banking activities have already proven to make a positive impact in our region and have improved the lives of the local communities. We have been measuring our impact since 2016 and have:
invested EUR 400 million in loans into social development in the CEE region
served a total of 36,000 clients across the region
created more than 15,000 jobs and preserved more than 30,000
With its initiatives and projects, Social Banking also makes a valuable contribution to the fulfillment of 9 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that the United Nations’ member states have set to be completed by 2030.