A social entrepreneur before the term was even coined, Johann Baptist Weber also founded other social institutions, including a kindergarten, a poorhouse and two schools, one of them for girls only. The founder of Erste österreichische Spar-Casse was a churchman of vision and social commitment.
Weber was born in Vienna in 1786. He was 33 years old when he came up with the idea of founding a bank for the destitute with the help of affluent citizens…
Weber was a Catholic priest in the parish of St. Leopold in one of the suburbs of Vienna during the Biedermeier period. Before that, he had been a chaplain in Wien-Lichtental, at the time when Franz Schubert performed his ecclesiastical works there, and in the parish of St. Peter in the city centre, next to which the head office of the Erste österreichische Spar-Casse was to be located from 1823.
In his parishes, he witnessed the social changes caused by industrialisation at first hand. After the Napoleonic Wars, Austria was bankrupt and poverty ran rampant across the country. Father Weber wondered how he could help the people flocking from the country to the city, who now earned their living as maidservants, day labourers, factory workers or simple craftsmen, live a dignified life in this world. He was convinced that just being charitable was not enough. Therefore, he asked affluent citizens in his parish in St. Leopold to pledge 100 to 1000 gulden for the creation of a savings fund. In 1819, the savings bank association already had 55 members, whose deposits laid the foundation for the Erste Österreichische-Spar-Casse, which opened on 4 October 1819. Weber did not stay in Vienna’s Leopoldstadt district for too much longer after that and, following another stint as a priest in Mannswörth, he became chaplain at Schönbrunn Palace.
Weber died in 1848 at the age of 64 in his home town. He was buried at the cemetery of Altmannsdorf. ERSTE Foundation not only takes care of his grave, but also took charge of renovating St. Leopold parish hall, which is named after him.
Together with other Viennese citizens, Johann Baptist Weber founded the First (ERSTE) Austrian Savings Bank. ERSTE Foundation is the direct successor of this savings bank association.