Die Zweite Sparkasse

Die Zweite Sparkasse: Helping People Help Themselves


Dr. Gerhard Ruprecht, chairman of Die Zweite Sparkasse, with a client

Most of us may not be very aware of it, but we need it constantly in our daily lives: a bank account. Whether for paying the rent, electricity or gas bills, or for receiving our salaries, today everything happens via cashless transactions. Yet there are an estimated 40,000 people in Austria who do not hold bank accounts.

For various reasons, mostly through unemployment, divorce or illness, they have found themselves in social and/or economic difficulties and, eventually, have also lost access to banking services.

With these people in mind, ERSTE Foundation founded a savings bank: Zweite Wiener Vereins-Sparcasse, or Zweite Sparkasse for short. The bank offers current accounts with no overdraft facility to people who are in difficult straits. This is, however, just the first step in a long process of getting out of debt, and everyone who wishes to take it must be prepared to help themselves.

To be entitled to such an account, customers must closely cooperate with welfare and counselling organisations such as Caritas and debt counselling services. Thanks to this comprehensive support service, people have a realistic chance of regaining control of their financial problems. This also means that they will later be able to open a bank account with a regular bank.

The foundation of Zweite Sparkasse was the first major project of ERSTE Foundation, which is thus fulfilling in a particularly remarkable way the responsibilities of its founding mandate – that is, to demonstrate commitment to society and to actively contribute to improving the lives of as many people as possible with sustainable projects.

Zweite Sparkasse has no profit-making ambitions. The mission of the bank is to support people who need a helping hand by providing them with a service they cannot get anywhere else. Just like the counselling organisations which recommend customers to Zweite Sparkasse, the bank seeks to help people help themselves.

“Because sometimes you just can’t do it on your own.” More than 400 voluntary staff members of Erste Bank and the savings banks have taken this phrase to heart. Thanks to their efforts, it has been possible to turn the idea of a “bank for the unbankable” into reality.

Download: Booklet “Die Zweite Sparkasse – The Bank for the Unbankable” (PDF, 842 KB)