We now know the companies that advanced to the finals of Via Bona Slovakia 2022
Finalists were selected in the first round of evaluation by an independent committee. From 66 nominations, 20 final projects emerged in seven categories.
Sixty companies applied for the Via Bona Slovakia award this year, the most since 2016. They submitted 66 nominations – the categories Green Company (15) and Socially Innovative Company (13) were the most represented. In the first round of evaluation, independent committees decided that 20 companies would advance to the finals.
The Pontis Foundation will present the award in seven categories again this year. The winners of the Via Bona Slovakia Award for 2022 will be announced at a ceremony on the 11th of May.
Responsible Large Company
Slovak Telekom built its responsible entrepreneurship strategy on four pillars – reducing the carbon footprint, circularity, creating a diverse and inclusive environment, and digital inclusion so that no one is left on the margins of technological society. In the field of environmental protection, the company is committed to achieving complete circularity at the level of technology and equipment by 2030 and zero emissions by 2040. 100% of electricity consumption currently comes from sustainable sources. The company also thinks about its disadvantaged customers as part of an inclusive approach. It offers special flat rates for people with hearing and visual impairments. It has also introduced sign language interpretation in its stores and assists seniors in installing and administering applications. The company also engaged in aid for people fleeing the war in Ukraine.
Last year, the company went through an agile transformation. As a part of this change, it introduced new positions, such as agile coach, scrum master and chapter leader, whose task is to take care of the continuous development of the members of individual teams. Telekom implements several activities to support the community and society as part of digital inclusion. For instance, it introduced the Enter Olympiad, where school teams presented their prototype solutions made using micro:bits, as well as a grant programme to support the digital skills of seniors. Through activities aimed at digital inclusion, the company managed to reach more than half a million people in Slovakia last year.
The company’s responsible entrepreneurship primarily focuses on the quality of human capital. The dominant themes include the employment of people from marginalised Roma communities. Whirlpool teaches them work habits and how to operate technology in production halls so that they can apply their knowledge and skills in any production sphere. In Poprad, a region with high unemployment, 23% of people of Roma origin and other socially disadvantaged groups are currently employed. The stability and satisfaction of employees are manifested by minimal turnover and loyalty over many years. Training and competence centres for equal opportunities, which the company built from its own resources, also contribute to their development. Both are located directly on the plant’s premises and serve in the selection of employees, as well as in their training and education.
In the field of environmental protection, the plant achieved record low levels of energy and water consumption per manufactured appliance, and by 2030 it is also committed to achieving a zero emissions balance. As a manufacturer of kitchen appliances, it helps prevent food waste. Through the Moments That Are Not Wasted campaign, the company educates first-grade primary school pupils about how not to waste food at home. Whirlpool is also actively helping the local community, especially people in need, by volunteering help from employees and donating missing appliances. For example, the company has helped crisis centres, kindergartens and orphanages in Ukraine.
Responsible Small/Medium Company
Be Lenka focuses on developing and producing products with high-added value for the customer. Its portfolio includes barefoot shoes and ergonomic carriers for children. Its products are made by hand, using local raw materials and in countries with a strong shoemaking tradition, thus supporting traditional craft production. The aspect of ecology and sustainability is present in the company’s entire operation. The models are made from waste material. The boxes for packaging the goods are made from recycled and recyclable materials. The creation of waste is prevented by pre-orders, thanks to which the company produces only as much as necessary. In this area, the company aims to create a revolutionary barefoot shoe that will be 100% compostable.
Be Lenka is based on a pro-customer approach, which is present in strict product control, an extension of the product return period in specific periods, customer service, community management on social networks and transparent communication towards customers. Employees acquire new knowledge and skills within the Be Lenka Academy. An internal coach accompanies them through the development process. The company also focuses on customer education in a slow fashion and proper walking, posture and contact parenting. To support charitable projects, it established the Be Lenka Foundation, through which the company supported the construction of a veterinary clinic in the rescue station in Zázriva and the creation of a model Bioclimatic Park in Košice.
The family company Herba Drug is the largest producer of cosmetics in Slovakia. It develops products in its laboratories and combines high quality with an affordable price in its production and sales. The company is located in Smižany, a village in eastern Slovakia. Although it would be more economically advantageous to do business in western Slovakia, mainly due to simpler logistics, the company considers it essential to develop its region. It employs people from the village and the surrounding area. It has employed women before retirement, people of Roma origin, people with health disabilities, and people hard of hearing for many years. Thanks to its approach, benefits and good relations at the workplace, the company is proud of its long-term employees, joined by younger generations.
Herba Drug prioritises supporting local suppliers, despite higher prices and customer satisfaction over profitability, for example, by not suspending production of products that show low profits. The company helps people in need throughout Slovakia and supports talents, education and civic activism in the region. In 2022, it launched the From Hospital to Adventure project, which provides delicate cosmetics for pediatric oncology patients in Slovakia and their parents and fun tasks for long days of treatment. After the treatment, each patient and their parents can take a trip to Bachledova dolina.
Zľavomat teaches people to discover new and exciting places in Slovakia through experiences, thus contributing to the responsible development of tourism. Out of the portfolio, 80-90% of services offered are stays in Slovakia, which motivates customers to vacation primarily in Slovakia and use the services of domestic entrepreneurs. The company emphasises a pro-customer approach. Based on customer ratings, it adjusts its portfolio of goods and services and thoroughly checks the quality of offers. In case of a low rating or detected deficiencies, the company will no longer launch the offer. It also introduced an above-standard 48-hour cancellation rating of operators on the customer line and chatbot. In 2022, it launched the For Nature project, which offers accommodation facilities striving for a sustainable and responsible approach.
It is important to Zľavomat to build an open environment where employees feel satisfied. Once a year, it conducts an employee satisfaction survey. People in the company can share their ideas and ask the management a question at any time via the online platform. The company transparently communicates its results inside the company, and each employee can see how sales or traffic of offers on the website are developing in the internal system. Upon their return from parental leave, the company supports women with the option of part-time work, flexible working hours and the possibility of taking the child to the workplace. It keeps philanthropy in mind too. It offers its customers the opportunity to contribute to the support of various civic associations and individuals by purchasing a special voucher or donating a symbolic amount when finalising a purchase.
Allegria Košice ISP with the project titled Employment of People with Disabilities
The integrative social enterprise Allegria operates the Café in the centre of Košice, employing people with disabilities. In addition to the cafe, the company produces confectionery. It has a sheltered workshop where people with mental-health disadvantages find employment. At the beginning of its operation in 2020, the company employed five people. Currently, there are 25 employees. These people have various health disadvantages, such as Down syndrome, autism, and Williams syndrome. Two employees move using a wheelchair. The company also employs healthy people who help their colleagues with disabilities as work assistants. In this way, Allegria increases employment and improves the integration of people who cannot find jobs in the regular labour market due to health disadvantages. Besides work, it provides the employees with further education and organises various cultural and social events for them and their families.
Curaprox with the project titled Employment of People with Disabilities
In 2019, the company participated in the project Helping with Heart, implemented by the Profesia company. By the end of 2022, 10 people with disabilities, mainly autism and Down syndrome, worked at Curaprox stands in shopping centres. Each of these persons is assigned a colleague for permanent employment, who help them in terms of work agenda and personal development. Employees with disabilities have specific tasks (e.g. cutting off toothbrush heads for recycling). They also receive assignments at home that support their engagement and strengthen their sense of usefulness. Curaprox thus successfully integrates into the working life of people who would not have this chance otherwise. At the same time, it helps fight prejudices and stigma through personal experience, both in the work team and among customers.
Support of Gender Equality and Women in Management in Slovenská sporiteľňa
Slovenská sporiteľňa has adopted a new diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) strategy until 2025. One of the goals is to support women’s participation in management. The formulation of the strategy was preceded by the creation of a new job position, manager for DEI. To fulfil its strategic goal, the bank adopted measures that mitigate or eliminate the adverse effects of gender inequalities and stereotypes. Besides online education about unconscious biases, the company introduced regular DEI training for new employees and implemented the first gender audit based on an in-depth investigation of gender inequalities. The company also organised several events to support women, e.g. an educational workshop to increase women’s financial resilience and a Woman Spirit conference for managers aspiring to a leading position in a bank.
Socially Innovative Company
Elfovia.sk with the project titled Elfovia.sk
The Elfovia.sk project focuses on hiding vulgar and hate speech on social networks that appear in discussions under the posts of media and public institutions. The Elves’ job is also to look for fake accounts and respond to comments. The project uses a hybrid model of the human work of moderators and modern technologies, making it possible to identify and hide problematic comments quickly. By effectively moderating discussions, it minimises the effects of misinformation and hatred and cultivates the environment of social networks. In 2022, Elves moderated discussions on the pages of almost all leading Slovak media. In 11 months of operation, they checked more than 6.5 million comments and detected more than 5,000 fake accounts.
ENVI-PAK with the project title Fight Against Freely Thrown Waste: behavioural research cleans up Slovak towns and villages
The problem of freely thrown waste still plagues most Slovak towns and villages today. ENVI-PAK realised that collecting garbage is not a long-term solution to the problem, so it launched an innovative project that aims to use behavioural techniques to motivate people to refrain from throwing trash on the ground. The project was implemented in two locations – in Bratislava (lake Štrkovec) and Ivanka pri Dunaji. The company first used qualitative research to identify the visitors to the locations and the waste, which is the biggest problem. Then, collecting garbage determined how much waste is regularly generated in these places. As positive motivation, the company used various gamification techniques and eye-catching visuals – arrows pointing out the proximity of bins, stickers with information on the toxicity of butts, or signs indicating the number of containers in the park. In this way, the company reduced the amount of waste by 74% in Bratislava and by 28% in Ivanka pri Dunaj. The project also included an interactive workshop for local governments, where they jointly designed behavioural projects tailored to a specific problem.
Ksebe with the project titled Digitisation of Access to Psychological Services
The project responds to insufficient access to services in the field of mental health care – one-time solutions to problems, long waiting times for therapies, and difficult-to-find private services. The company has therefore created a digital platform with the same name through which people can easily book therapy sessions online. It is the most prominent digital platform of its kind in Slovakia. It offers more than 65 qualified and verified psychologists, who can be filtered according to preferences. Clients can also use the option of online therapy. Since its establishment in 2021, the company has facilitated 13,000 sessions for 3,000 people. With his project, the company also wants to contribute to the destigmatisation of mental health problems. It actively cooperates with influencers, publishes educational posts on social networks and organises educational events and discussions.
DPD with the Sustainable Ecological Mobility project
DPD’s long-term goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from parcel transportation. As Slovakia’s first courier company, it introduced delivery by electric vans. In 2022, it replaced 53 vehicles, saving 530 tons of greenhouse gases. The company plans to deliver exclusively electric vans in Bratislava by 2025 and, at the same time, increase the number of electric vans within Slovakia to 300 vehicles. The company also applies a green approach in other aspects of its business – it converts buildings into low-energy ones and recycles waste. It built a green roof and a blooming garden to support biodiversity. It also provides its clients with a carbon certificate with a calculation of the emissions they would release into the air if they were to deliver their goods through another courier company.
ekolive with the project titled New Generation of Biostimulants for Organic Agriculture and Healthier Crops
Leachates are created by cleaning raw mineral mining waste using a unique bioleaching technology. The company used this to develop a new generation of ecological biostimulants that restore degraded soil and biodiversity, stimulate plant growth and health, and thus effectively replace harmful agrochemicals. At the same time, low-quality minerals that are abandoned and unused by industry become high-value raw materials. The project thus connects two seemingly unrelated areas – the mining industry and the agricultural sector. Using local mineral raw materials and bacteria found in nature creates a functional mining-agro system in harmony with nature. Ekolive states that it is the only company in the world that provides this type of bioleaching. The technology is waste-free, does not require energy and has no production limits.
OLO with the project titled KOLO – Bratislava Centre for Reuse
The Bratislava reuse centre works as a municipal reuse centre. It is where unwanted but preserved and still usable items are given a second chance. The project serves as a waste prevention tool because everyone can find what they need. At the same time, they can get rid of excess household items in a meaningful and ecological way. KOLO also includes a HUB of circular thoughts and ideas – an educational and creative centre for people from Bratislava and its surroundings, where meaningful green projects are created, and children from schools in the town are educated. The centre also cooperates with the non-profit sector and integrates people disadvantaged in the labour market. OLO also plans to create a shared workshop where it will be possible to repair the collected objects and thereby extend their life.
Good Partner of the Community
Baterkáreň with the project titled Community and Educational Re-use Centre Baterkáreň
Baterkáreň is an educational and community reuse centre in Trnava. In addition to the reuse centre, it operates the Shared Workshop as a place of events and the Rental of Things. It regularly organises collections to help organisations and people and families in need. It is the first centre of its kind in Slovakia. It connects the environmental aspect with the aid and social aspects, which was also manifested shortly after the start of the war in Ukraine when it felt a strong need for solidarity and organised help. Baterkáreň announced a fundraiser focused on food and drugstores and joined forces with other helping organisations. As a reuse centre with a wide range of offers, it also started to provide individual help – initially in the form of supplies to/from the borders. Later the need arose to help refugees in and around Trnava. It issued humanitarian aid daily, served approximately 9,500 people in 2022, and connected with all active organisations in the area. Over 50 volunteers, including those from Ukraine, participated in Baterkáreň activities.
BILLA with the project titled Healthy Eyes Already in Kindergarten
BILLA focuses on the early diagnosis of visual impairments in preschoolers, which is crucial for possible correction or complete cure. Experts carry out a screening measurement in kindergartens all over Slovakia, after which the child receives a certificate with the measurement result and a possible recommendation for further examinations. The measurement itself is simple, painless and deliberately takes place in the kindergarten’s familiar environment, relieving children of fear and stress. BILLA also approached the project from an educational perspective because it regularly communicates the importance of caring for children’s vision. The company has been cooperating for a long time with the Department of Pediatric Ophthalmology of the Faculty of Medicine at Comenius University and the National Institute of Children’s Diseases, where it annually improves the quality of eye examinations by purchasing specialised equipment.
U.S. Steel Košice and the project titled Steelworkers Help Refugees from Ukraine
Immediately after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, U.S. Steel was involved in helping Ukrainian men and women coming to Slovakia. In a short time, the company connected with the foundation and its employees to provide targeted and specific help. Within a few days, it donated hundreds of smartphones for refugees. It also hired Ukrainian-speaking people who provided the refugees with helpful advice over the phone. As part of the employee challenge titled Give Lunch, the company provided a total of 21,400 lunches until June 2022 to people accommodated in TUKE dormitories in Košice and Prešov. It also provided food and accommodation in the company’s training centre in Medzev. In 2022, there were more than 8,850 accommodations, the financial value of which, together with meals, exceeded 285,000 euros. Thanks to the employee fundraiser, which the U.S. Steel Foundation matched to 100,000 euros, the company helped 350 refugee families. Hundreds of company employees also helped individually as volunteers.
Fair Market Player
Gerulata Technologies with the project titled Pierce Through the Fog of Info War
Gerulata Technologies creates products and provides services that help fight misinformation and hoaxes. The company realises that the public space is significantly overwhelmed by information noise, misinformation and hoaxes. Therefore, it makes available to the public interesting analyses and comprehensive views on topics that drive public debate. An example is the website politics.social, which provides a transparent view of the behaviour of Slovak politicians on Facebook, as well as an overview of their advertising campaigns. Gerulata works with the third sector, research organisations and universities to which it provides financial support or access to technology, data or analysis. With such steps, he wants to contribute to a more objective perception of what is happening in society.
Orange Slovakia with the project titled No Pitfalls Online
For a long time, Orange has been developing an educational programme about how children spend time online and how adults can help them feel safe. The company has launched a new website, www.beznastrah.online, which features articles and videos on internet addiction, cyberbullying, inappropriate content, online predators, and self-worth. The portal also allows reporting of dangerous sites. At the Festival for the Soul, which Orange organised in cooperation with IPčko, experts discussed these topics and gave helpful advice to parents. Part of the education was a book publication for parents titled No Pitfalls Online: a guide to safe internet.
As part of its foundation, Orange opened a new grant programme supporting thematic projects of primary and secondary schools and non-governmental organisations. It also provided free workshops to schools, brought thematic discussions to summer festivals, and in 2022 launched the Online Protection service, which can ensure customers’ safety in the online environment by blocking harmful content before it can reach their devices. In this way, Orange continuously and openly shows pitfalls and risky behaviour on the Internet and, together with experts, brings recommendations to the public on how to eliminate these issues.
Wilderoben with the project titled Duck Tapes
Wilderoben regularly organises an event called Duck Tapes in its store in Bratislava, during which it repairs outdoor clothing for free for its customers, even if they bought it in another store. So far, they have repaired 450 pieces of clothing. The company wants to highlight the durability of outdoor clothing and inspire people to repair it. Children’s clothing purchased in the Wilderoben store is bought for 35% of the original price and resold at that price without the right to profit. In this way, the company has already returned hundreds of things to circulation and thus offered the option of buying them even to people who cannot afford to invest so much money. The company has also supported the forest protection association VLK for a long time with 1% of its turnover. It tries limiting logging in Slovak forests by creating a protected area network. It also spreads the ideas of ecology, environmental protection, and environmental activism by organising discussions, stand-ups, and showing eco films directly on the premises of its stores.