After a series of startup events, competitions, and award ceremonies where everyone is “awesome” and “lean”, the Social Integration Award event, organised by ERSTE Foundation last night, was quite different, and essentially – a very humbling experience. The ceremony honoured a total of 35 projects from 13 countries for their social work in a specific CEE region. Chairperson Doraja Eberle set the tone in her opening speech by urging the over 700-strong audience not to isolate themselves on their lifelong journey but to reach out to each other and meet in a “place of humanity.”
In a nutshell, the Social Integration Award is designed to promote the role of non-government organisations (NGOs) in creating equal opportunity conditions in the CEE countries they’re active. The nominees, and eventually the finalists, are the select ones who manage to best utilise their resources to create social impact in conditions of extreme uncertainty.
The award ceremony wasn’t about investment talk; yet money was given away, and money was won – depending on the perspective. This year, ERSTE Foundation awarded a total of 616K euros, with the top prizes going out to four projects from four different countries – Romania, Slovenia, Austria, and Hungary.
The first place was awarded to Romanian initiative “I Am Not Afraid” (40K euros), whose focus is on educating children with cancer to better understand and deal with their situation. Second was Social Integration of Migrants (30K) from Slovenia, who aim to inform and advise migrants about labour, social and asylum laws in the country. The third place was split between two initiatives – KAMA (25K) from Austria and Age of Participation – Social Theatre for Children (25K) from Hungary. The Austrian project enables immigrants to teach life-skills classes to refugees, while the Hungarian one encourages children to discuss important “real-life” topics through participative theatre.
Some 26 startup initiatives won the ERSTE Foundation Honorary Award, while four received the jury’s Special Prize, and one won the Practitioners’ Award – all of which worth 16K euros. A complete list of all finalists is available here.
In 2012 alone, ERSTE Foundation spent over 7,6 million euros on supporting NGOs within its CEE reach. About 75% of these financial resources were allocated to the implementation of projects, while the rest was direct projects expenses. More statistical data is available here.
ERSTE Foundation is the main shareholder of Erste Group Bank AG, with 20.13% of capital shares.
More on the topic:
Social entrepreneurship in Austria: Many awards for just a few winners?
Reporting from the event by Ondrej Gandel.