The ERSTE Foundation Award for Social Integration honours outstanding social projects that show high quality, innovation and sustainability. The Award is offered biennially for social integration projects from 13 European countries: Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic and Slovenia.
ERSTE Foundation supports the winning organisations with prize money (totaling 610,000 Euro in 2013), visibility in the media, integration in local and international networks as well as opportunities for further organisational development. The goal is to promote and contribute to the development of an inclusive, dignifying and more just society, where nobody is left behind.
In the Central and South Eastern European countries, around 35 million people do not even have a simple current bank account. There is a clear need for small-scale sensible loans and additional support for enterprising individuals and communities. A combination of Micro-Banking and Social Enterprise Finance can play a real part in renewing the region, both economically and socially. good.bee makes financial services more accessible to previously ‘underbanked’ individuals and businesses in Central and Eastern Europe.
Every day hundreds of volunteers and NGOs in Central and South Eastern Europe help and work where government assistance is not sufficient or absent. To help them to exchange know-how and create better awareness of their work, in 2007 ERSTE Foundation established the biennial ERSTE Foundation Award for Social Integration, which promotes the best practice projects in so far over 12 countries in Central- and South Eastern Europe. It addresses organisations of all sizes equally and is open to the public sector, civil society, private initiatives and religious communities as well as to the media.
The best-known project of ERSTE Foundation in Austria to date is the 'Zweite Sparkasse' (the Second Savings Bank). This 'Bank for the unbankable' offers bank accounts to people who have got into financial difficulties and no longer have access to banking services.