06. 02. 2016 Corporate responsibility

Business can offer extraordinary activities which are also beneficial for society

The evaluation committee of the prestigious Via Bona Slovakia Award has shortlisted 23 nominations. The winners will be selected soon.

Dobre&Dobré café employs people without a home who are trying to find their way back to a normal lif

Many companies in Slovakia are proof that business can be of enormous benefit for society and the country. Have a look at the stories of the companies which were shortlisted for the Via Bona Slovakia Award 2015 out of 75 nominees. The Pontis Foundation will awardprizes for last year to the most inspiring projects in corporate philanthropy and responsible entrepreneurship. The prizes will be awarded in seven different categories.

Responsible Large Company


The company Ekoltech from Fiľakovo counts as the most traditional furniture producer in Slovakia. Thanks to its top-quality production, it has become a significant supplier for the company IKEA. Ekoltech produces 11% of the whole furniture export in Slovakia. This company is outstanding for its unique development innovations. For instance, its powder coating plantranks among the world’s top in the field of surface treatment.The companygives lectures on this new technology to IKEA supplier companies from abroad as well as to managers from the United States and China. In its production, the company uses only FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified woodwhich guarantees that the raw wood does not come from unknown sources, illegal logging or from forest management projects causing environmental damage or which harm the interests of local residents. Ekoltech offers small and medium-sized suppliers from Slovakia long-term cooperation and development. Annually, since 2010, this company has been organising the Day of Suppliers, where the quality of the supplied materials and services is evaluated and compared. Ekoltech insists on the development of its employees as well. In 2015, the company organised the Master School which focuses on the development of leading employees’ telecommunication and management competencies and improving their skills in the management of working teams. This company employs 300 Roma people as well.


The goal of this beer producer based in Hurbanovo is to become the greenest brewery in Slovakia by the year 2020. Therefore, the company focuses on six key areas: the protection of water resources, the reduction of CO2 emissions, the use of local crops from sustainable sources, the promotion of responsible beer drinking, the protection of employees’ health and safety and last but not least, the development of communities in which the company operates. Responsibility is visible in all company’s departments as well as in the whole production cycle entitled “From Barley to Bar”. Currently, they cooperate with more than 1200 suppliers, from which more than 1000 come from Slovakia. They regularly invest in the development of their employees. All employees have their own personal development plan as well as complete information regarding salary conditions. In addition to their own salary, employees are also acquainted with their pay scale, the maximum amount of a variable component, the salary band and the basic rules of wage increase. In the last five years, the ten best employees who acted in accordance with company’s values were given a trip to Amsterdam on Queens Day, which is the celebration of the Queen of the Netherlands’ birthday. What is also interesting is the fact that almost 40% of top and medium managers in this company are women. HEINEKEN realises that the irresponsible drinking of alcohol, which beer contains, can cause health, social and economic problems. Therefore, the company is attempting to spread information on reasonable beer consumption. In addition to awareness-raising campaigns, it does not place commercials near schools, kindergartens or medical centres. In its advertisements HEINEKEN only presents actors who look older than 25 years old. Neither does it broadcast any commercials at times which are particularly aimed at children;.

Slovenská sporiteľňa (The Slovak Savings Bank)

Slovenská sporiteľňa (The Slovak Savings Bank) has been developing its corporate responsibility by building long-term partnerships which have a real impact on people’s lives. In 2014, they started developing the “social bank” project which aims at providing banking services and financial education and assistance to targeted groups which are not covered by any other bank in Slovakia. These groups include newbusinessmen, non-profit organisations and low-income groups of people.The goal of this project is to contribute to solving the problem of poverty and low financial literacy and to reduce the limitations of entrepreneurs while starting up their business. Via its loan products designed for businessmen who are just starting out, the bank has supported clients from different parts of Slovakia, operating in diverse fields – from car services, to the IT sector and to food selling. Slovenská sporiteľňa (The Slovak Savings Bank) cares about relations with its employees as well. A total of 78,5% of its employees took part in last year’s survey on employee engagement. This is proof that they want to have an impact on on-going events in the bank. Slovenská sporiteľňa (The Slovak Savings Bank) also cares about the development of its employees and carries out development activities on a broad scale – from the company’s headquarters to individual branches. A programme for potential managers has been successfully operating for several years as well. In the building of Bratislava’s headquarters and in the Central Bank Office in Banská Bystrica, the bank has established a special clubhouse entitled HydePark where a free library is available and where regularly organised discussions and clubs take place. In 2015, employees had the opportunity to engage in voluntary work for a day in the form of paid leave for the first time. The bank even paid employees’ travel costs from their residence to the place where the activity took place. In total, 308 employees took part in volunteering activities, achieving more than 2 000 hours of voluntary work. In the field of community support, the bank focuses on financial education. In 2015, the successful Know your Money project, realised in cooperation with the Children of Slovakia Foundation, proceeded to its sixth year.

The law firm TaylorWessing will be competing in the category Responsible small/medium-sized company.

Small/Medium-Sized Company


The advocacy firm TaylorWessing has realised that a clean business environment and good law enforcement are beneficial for the whole society as well as for their clients, who are mostly investors from abroad. The period 2006 – 2010 showed a prevailing trend in the fight against corruption – the rapid and subsequent long-term deterioration (solution) of the situation. Since the law agency has developed, it has realised that its size and success in the market increase the importance of their voice. As a result, they began to systematically engage in and express their opinion on various topical issues, such as public procurement or the protection of creditors. This company comes up with concrete and practical solutions and supports reasonable projects. Partners as well as other lawyers in this law firm spend a part of their work time providing consulting to non-profit organisations and media or they work on pro bono projects aimed at the improvement of the business environment in Slovakia. TaylorWessing chooses its colleagues responsibly as well. Due to the special legislation of mandatory legal traineeship, it is very common in the Slovak market that law firms misuse this situation to obtain a cheap labour force. TaylorWessing offers the post of junior lawyerto all students who are successful and have good results as well as a job as an associate attorney to every junior lawyer. Each partner invests a great deal of their time in education and cooperation with young colleagues. This law firm offers its colleagues – junior lawyers who have worked in the company for at least two years financial support for completing a one-year study programme Master of Law at one of the best universities abroad. They support the international organisation of law students ELSA Slovakia in the long term and are particularly engaged in the field of start-ups, since they have the potential to help the Slovak business environment and to increase an interest in social innovation.


Currently the only pro-social café in Europe, Dobre&Dobré has been operating since November 2014. It employs people without a home who are on their way back to a normal life. What is more, the company does so with unforgettable style. It resides in the building of the Stará Tržnica (the Old Market Hall) in SNP Square in Bratislava. The café is the third project of the Vagus civic association, after their previous projects of terrain social work STREETWORK and the Daily and Integration Centre DOMEC, thus enlarging their portfolio of providing professional help to people without a home. Dobre&Dobré s.r.o. positively influences public opinion on the issues of homelessness and gives these people an opportunity to regain a home through means of gainful employment. This café gives people without a home the feeling of self-respect and self-realisation as well as helping them to start a normal life. As for the general public, they gain positive experience with people without a home. The main motto of this company is: “People without a home are humans first and foremost.” All employees regularly participate in training in gastronomy, communication with customers, team building while of course improving their working skills. Connecting people without a home with other employees is an important factor in the integration process, as increasing their chances in the labour market, eliminates prejudice towards them. In this way, the Dobre&Dobré café creates a model which can be reproduced in a new environment. The company also chooses its suppliers responsibly. Most of the products originate from small-scale production in the region of Bratislava. Coffee is roasted in Slovakia and grown in a Slovak plantation in Columbia.

Obnova (Renovation)

Obnova (Renovation) is a small company founded in the building industry which focuses on the renovation and revitalisation of historical buildings. The motto of the company –  “Remember historical buildings”, attempts to point out the thin line between destroying fundamental aspects of a historical site and a well conserved and presented site. The company primarily uses traditional technologies with local and harmless materials, such as lime, stone, cork, straw, sheep wool, hemp, wood and others. In 2001, Obnova responded to an almost non-existing awareness in the field of cultural heritage by launching the Obnova.sk. portal. Until the times of social networks, an internet magazine was practically the only online source of information in the former Czechoslovakia. The portal saved dozens of historical buildings by providing appropriate information at the right time. For several years, this project provided a forum for the castle community as well. Since its establishment, Obnova has created a detailed database of information on cultural heritage sites. In addition to the company’s editors, at least 1 000 unique visitors join the activities of the Obnova.sk portal daily. The portal was awarded the annual prize of the Monuments and Museums Revue in 2006. Since applied research in the field of renovation, conservation and maintenance of historical sites is minimal in Slovakia, the company publishes, together with its partners, books on these topics and carries out various experiments.


The whole foundation of LYRA CHOCOLATE, a chocolate producer and seller from Nitra, is based on a fair approach within the company as well as towards its customers and suppliers. Cooperation with its strategic partner Casa Luker, an international company deciding on the social and environmental conditions of cocoa planting and a member of the World Cocoa Foundation, represents huge moral obligation for this company. Therefore, it is natural that LYRA CHOCOLATE cooperates with local farmers in Columbia. It supports their families, provides them with work and professional training connected to cocoa planting, fermenting and drying, thus raising their standard of living. This chocolate producer also attempts to protect the environment and, inter alia, prevents the risk of land contamination on farms by using high-quality ecological fertilisers in order to grow healthy crops. The company’s employees take an active part in its operations. For instance, participating in choosing new colleagues. The company provides its employees with development training and Spanish language courses for free. It closely cooperates with the Ľudovít Winter Hotel Academy in Piešťany. LYRA CHOCOLATE provides educational work, offers know-how and technology, in so doing they aim to contribute to a dual education system for students.

Green Company

GreenCoop association: When Hi-Tech unites with a tomato

This agricultural firm from southern Slovakia produces more than 10 million kilograms of high-quality tomatoes annually. GreenCoop not only intends to produce healthy crops, but to produce them in a healthy way as well. They use exclusively modern greenhouses which are heated by geothermal water and equipped with the latest technologies, such as the UV filter cyclic cleaning of irrigation water. For ten years, GreenCoop has been trying to restore old greenhouses and improve the effectiveness of abandoned geothermal wells, from which hot water very often streams uncontrollably into the environment. In this spirit, in 2015, the company started revitalising old greenhouses in Dunajská Streda. They removed 40-year old greenhouses, cleaned an old farmstead, renovated the whole surroundings and one geothermal well. Thanks to these changes they now produce 3 000 tons of high-quality tomatoes instead of the original production of 800 tons. This means increasing energy efficiency by 375%.

 JRK Waste Management: For Less Waste

Every inhabitant of Slovakia produces roughly 327 kilograms of waste annually, from which 45% is composed of biodegradable waste. The Slovak company JRK Waste Management aims to reduce the amount of municipal waste by increasing waste sorting. Since 2010, it has been working on promoting home composting with municipalities and individuals. In 2015, they reduced the amount of greenhouse gas emissions by more than 4 000 tons and avoided the dumping of almost 650 thousand hectolitres of biodegradable waste. Their electric composter with polyextremophile bacteria is so far the only alternative to the compulsory dumpingof kitchen and restaurant waste. In this way, JRK has helped to save the municipalities tens of thousands of Euros. Last year, the company, in cooperation with the civic association Friends of the Earth and the Institute of Circular Economy, organised 107 lectures on the importance of composting.

HEINEKEN Slovakia: Well-Being outside the City

The activity Well-Being outside the City is the partnership project of the company HEINEKEN Slovakia and the Ekopolis Foundation. Its aim is to enhance green spaces in cities together with their local inhabitants. Greenery in cities significantly improves the microclimate in its surroundings and reduces dust, noise and air pollution. It contributes to the preservation of biodiversity. Simultaneously, green areas create a safe, healthy and pleasant place for leisure and sport activities for various groups of people. In 2015, in the fifth year of the project, the company cleaned part of a forest park near Ľadovo lake in Lučenec, carried out ornithological research, planted new trees in the Anička park in Košice as well as in the cultural centre Záhrada (Garden) in Banská Bystrica and cleaned the natural clean water spring in Levice. In total, the company adjusted nearly 10 hectares of green areas. HEINEKEN Slovakia planted at least 500 new trees and renovated two springs. 536 local volunteers joined these activities.

Great Employer


The slaughterhouse HSH from Veľké Zálužie offers its employees accommodation possibilities in houses close to their workplace. Each house also has a garden where employees can grow fruit or vegetables and have a rest by barbequing with their family and friends. This company builds 4 to 5 new houses every 2-3 years. Today, there are 19 houses and they are planning to build more. In choosing which employees have the possibility to acquire accommodation, employees’ individual situations and needs are taken into consideration. Employees with family and small children are preferred. The company supports the development of its employees in the form of regular training, including health and safety trainings. Thanks to the training, HSH has high production efficiency and there are almost no injuries. HSH also tries to help its employees by means of interest free loans. It also has its own non-profit organisation which helps its employees in the case of health problems.

Krajšie bývanie (Nicer living)

The company Krajšie bývanie (Nicer living) from Košice offers cleaning services for common areas in apartments and buildings. Currently, they take care of 200 gates, 3 small shopping centres, 20 flats or houses as well the winter maintenance of sidewalks. They are also developing the summer maintenance of exterior areas, the cleaning of business premises and the insulated facades of buildings. Krajšie bývanie provides employment for workers in difficult life situations and they also employ Roma people. The social situation of former and current employees has often been at the official poverty threshold. They pay monthly travel costs on public transport for their employees. In addition, the company gives its employees interest free and repayable loans and provides them with salary advances at any time. Thanks to their jobs, employees gain working habits and discipline, learn to be responsible and many of them get rid of their debts from the past. The company is acquainted with the social situation, personal profile and medical condition of each employee and sets a work load according to these factors. Employees have flexible working hours. They can use the time which they saved during their working hours for relaxation. The company also improves employees’ qualification by means of education and training.


The company ANER HAUS employs women in the position of “housewife”. These are mainly women without any education who were either unable to carry on in their original work because of health problems, can’t work full time or they are disadvantaged in the labour market because of their pre-retirement age. In this firm, women are not offered just minimal wages as it is the practice in other companies. They also receive an employment contract with all its benefits. The company offers these housewives free monthly practical and theoretical training where they learn professional cleaning techniques, procedures for maintaining cleanliness in different households, which may vary according to equipment, requirements or the number of people living in an apartment or house. Employees learn to communicate with clients in accordance with a professional and moral code. Training is completed with an evaluating interview. Almost everything the women learn, can be utilized in their private life as well.

Fair Player on the Market

PayLess Consulting 

The company PayLess Consulting is active in the area of optimisation and complex maintenance of telecommunication services. These mainly consist of monthly reports, dealing with complaints and changing products. At the beginning of cooperation with a client, the company carries out a free analysis of all telecommunication services which the company uses in its business. The second step is the optimisation of these services which means they should be set up at a reasonable price according to the specific needs of the client. Currently, thanks to optimisation, the average expenses saved for telecommunication services lies at 50%. The company’s payment is made up of half of the company’s annual savings. If a client does not save anything, the firm works for free. A client does not pay anything in advance and the amount of remuneration is relative to the difficulty of the services offered. PayLess Consulting offers pro bono services for civic associations. Terms and conditions agreed with its clients are fair. If a client does not like a service or they think they do not need it, they can terminate it at any time as there is no prolonged period of notice.


The popular furniture producer aims to inspire people to lead more sustainable lives in their households, to reduce energy consumption and to minimize waste. IKEA Bratislava in cooperation with the research agency Simply5 carried out a survey involving a representative sample of 500 households, focusing on life in Slovak households and the approach to an environmentally friendly lifestyle. The survey revealed that more and more Slovaks want to lead a more environmentally responsible life at home and save the environment. In addition, they see this as a means of lowering their expenditures. However, many people do not know what solutions they should choose. IKEA’s campaign entitled Sustainable Life at Home is based on four pillars: energy saving, water saving, food storage and recycling. IKEA’s employees have joined the campaign as well. Their main objective is to support the awareness of sustainable life at home via IKEA products. Selected employees can try out IKEA products at home and find out how much they can save with them. Since September 2015, IKEA has been offering only LED lights in all its department stores, because they use 85% less energy than normal bulbs and their lifespan is 20 years. Since September 2015, all wool used in the production of its goods has come from sustainable sources.


The company Ares is the longest operating company in Slovakia in the field of removing architectural barriers and at the same time, one of the oldest sheltered workshops employing handicapped people. Ares directly engages in the development and production of equipment which helps the disabled to take an active part in life. Ares was a pioneer in producing elevator platforms for disabled people in Slovakia. This company connects skilful project managers and technicians with the experience of handicapped employees. It has managed to create a workplace where disabled and healthy people can work together equally. From the very beginning, Ares has strived to persuade its employees that appropriate professional behaviour towards their customers and suppliers is the only way to be successful. When dealing with their suppliers, they build up long-term relationships which lead to mutual trust.

Supporter of Volunteering

Hewlett-Packard Slovakia: Elderly

The Elderly project focuses on the community of elderly people who are being forgotten in society by organising special activities. The goal of this project is to make the lives of lonely clients from the Social Services Home more pleasant, to engage them in various activities and to help them to socialize. The core of success are regular activities which volunteers attend together with senior citizens. Thanks to this, they can get to know each other better. The activities are beneficial for both senior citizens, who are happy to experience the events with the volunteers as well as for the volunteers, who gain new experience and awareness as well. Cooperation with volunteers from HP Slovakia gives pensioners the opportunity to get to know new young people, shows them new views of the world and provides them with a good deal of optimism. HP’s employees decided to engage in this work voluntarily due to an inner conviction, the possibility for self-realisation and a shift in their own values and beliefs.

SAShE: Good Store

The Good Store on the website SAShE.sk links communities which can be helpful to each other, as the non-profit dimension becomes part of the world of purchase and sales. The portal SAShE.sk has been functioning for six years and it gives creative people the opportunity to sell their designs and hand-made products. In October 2015, the Good Store was launched on the SAShE.sk website, where non-profit organisations can sell hand-made products. These products can be made by their clients in art therapy classes or can be products made by SAShE.sk sellers, who donate these goods to a selected NGO. Since the Good Store operates on a non-commission basis, all money received is used directly for an NGO’s project published on the Great Country. This project connects sellers, NGOs, the Great Country, SAShE.sk and buyers in order to create a system which helps non-profit organisations operating with a workroom as well as those without one. This project aims to engage not only buyers, but also sellers.

PS: Digital: Training entitled “Let’s Facebook” for NGOs

The digital agency PS: Digital offers its pro bono expertise in online marketing to non-profit organisations in order to improve their communication via the social medium Facebook. The main objective of the Let’s Facebook training was to help non-profit organisations to administrate their Facebook pages and to help them understand this medium so they could confidently use its services and effectively share their messages, successes and challenges with a wide range of potential clients, volunteers and supporters. During the 8 training sessions, employees of PS: Digital provided help to 46 non-profit organisations by showing them how to effectively work with Facebook and how to use it to support and broaden their activities. 56 participants had the opportunity to find out how this social network works, to comprehend its communication context and to learn to use its possibilities. In 2016, the company PS: Digital intends to support NGOs in a similar form of support.

Good Community Partner

Obnova (Renovation)

Obnova (Renovation) is a small company entrenched in the building industry which focuses on the renovation and revitalisation of historical buildings. The motto of this company – “Remember historical buildings“, attempts to point out a fragile border between destroying fundamental aspects of a historical site and a well conserved and presented site. This company primarily uses traditional technologies with local and harmless materials, such as lime, stone, cork, straw, sheep wool, hemp, wood and others. In 2001, the company Obnova (Renovation) responded to almost non-existing awareness in the field of cultural heritage by launching the Obnova.sk. portal. Until the times of social networks, an internet magazine was practically the only online source of information in the former Czechoslovakia. This portal saved dozens of historical buildings by providing appropriate information in an appropriate time. For several years, this project was the place of meetings of a castle community as well. Since its establishment, Obnova (Renovation) has created the detailed database of information on a cultural heritage. Except for company’s editors, at least 1 000 unique visitors join the activities of the portal Obnova.sk daily. This portal was awarded the annual prize of the Monuments and Museums Revue in 2006.

VSE Holding

The project entitled Home for 140 families is aimed at supporting girls growing up in children’s homes and women in critical life situations. It focuses on a delicate and challenging matter which demands long-term help and support based on mutual trust. The psychological state of these women is strongly influenced by their past and as a result, mental problems, drugs and fear are often present in their lives. It is very difficult to change their attitude to life and in spite of utmost endeavour, these stories do not always have a happy end. The employees of VSE Holding attempt to bring its clients from crisis centres back to a normal life with the help of mentoring and regular contact with them. Simultaneously, they take an active part in reconstruction and cleaning at the individual centres. The company’s employees also organise collections, collective baking and the sale of Christmas biscuits and other similar activities. The uniqueness of this project is highlighted by the fact that it is supported not only by the company itself, but also by its employees. Moreover, VSE Holding engages in helping women and crisis centres not only within the framework of the activities organised by the company, but also provides help spontaneously, for instance by donating clothes for children, drugstore products and other household equipment.


ESET is Slovak technological leader and one of the top security companies in the world. Since employees are very important for this company, ESET finds it crucial that current students gain not only theoretical knowledge but also practical experience during their studies. Subjects like reverse engineering and programming in C++ are disappearing from schools. Therefore, in January 2015, ESET launched a Research Centre where the company’s top technological employees teach these topics and offer consultation to students. The subject “The Basics of Reverse Engineering” is open to students from various universities – the Faculty of Informatics and Information Technologies and the Faculty of Electrotechnics and Informatics of the Slovak Technical University as well as the Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Informatics of the Comenius University. The ESET Research Centre does not only educate students, but also the next generation of academics who will be capable of doing research in the field of IT security. The objective of the Research Centre is to enhance competitiveness in the labour market and to support the cooperation of students as well as academics with foreign institutions, and to motivate universities and colleges to cooperate more often with private companies which can provide valuable knowledge from their practical experience.


iKid (Innovative Kid) is a competitive educational programme focusing on supporting children’s business skills. It attempts to motivate and inspire Slovak schools to introduce creativity and innovation into the educational process through hands-on experience. It is focused on primary school pupils from the age of 10 to 14 who create their own start-ups under the surveillance of teachers and mentor-volunteers from the business environment. In six months, they imitate the same path a real start-up or even a successful company has to undergo. Currently, the iKid project is running in eleven schools, geographically spread across the whole of Slovakia – from village schools and towns up to the capital city. It is aimed at children regardless of their gender, social status or academic results. iKid offers children various workshops, excursions to interesting companies in the whole of Slovakia, inspiring meetings with young Slovak start-ups and gives them professional expert advice from the representatives of the Slovak start-up ecosystem.

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We create strong and meaningful linkages between the corporate, civic and public sectors in our three strategic topics – social innovation, philanthropy and responsible entrepreneurship. We build expertise our expertise in these issues, bring trends, promote long-term impact, and inspire.

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