In 1819, a group of Viennese citizens founded a private association to give common people opportunities for making provision for the future and establishing a secure and independent livelihood for themselves and their families. The association was run by dedicated volunteers in a poor neighbourhood, was innovative and obviously sustainable. It was called Erste oesterreichische Spar-Casse and was the “first Austrian savings bank”.
In 1993, the Erste transferred its business operations to a public limited company. A new subsidiary, Die Erste österreichische Spar-Casse AG, was founded for this purpose. The savings bank itself was given the name DIE ERSTE österreichische Spar-Casse Anteilsverwaltungssparkasse. This kind of holding company is referred to in German by the initials AVS. It is the legal predecessor of ERSTE Foundation.
The recent history of ERSTE Foundation starts a few years after the beginning of the third millennium when the foundation was established in December 2003.
In 1997, Erste Bank starts its expansion into an area where its predecessors, then independent savings banks, had already gone in the past. First Hungary, then the Czech Republic, later Croatia, Slovakia, Serbia and finally Romania become markets for our group. In each country Erste acts as an international brand with strong local ties. ERSTE Foundation has supported Erste Group becoming one of the biggest financial service providers in CEE and has repeatedly participated in Erste Group’s capital increases. While the bank invests in the economy, the foundation invests part of its dividends as core shareholder in the societies of the region.
In 2006, the first institution founded with the support of ERSTE Foundation was a bank for the unbankable. Learn more about a bank that wants to loose its clients, that is not interested in profit and entirely run by volunteers: www.zweitesparkasse.at
And the bee goes on! In 1869, Eduard Strauss, the youngest son of Johann Strauss and the younger brother of the famous Johann Strauss son, composed a “bee polka” for the 50th anniversary of the Erste Österreich Spar-Casse.
In 2013, Paul Divjak and Team Tool Time chose a contemporary form for a sound piece with a bee: the “Bee Pop – Prologue”!
In autumn 2015, hundreds of thousands of people were fleeing to Central Europe via Hungary and Italy, hoping to escape the war in Syria or the violence in Iraq and Afghanistan. For many of them, the arduous journey led through Vienna. Erste Group’s new headquarters is right next to Vienna’s new main train station. The bank planned to move into the offices from 2016; the future ERSTE Foundation offices were still under construction. They were spontaneously furnished with bunk beds and converted into an emergency shelter for refugees for many weeks.
In 2019, Erste Bank and ERSTE Foundation celebrated 200 years of the savings bank idea, which, in times of industrialisation and urbanisation, had not only been civic-minded and economically viable but also innovative and audacious. Four quarterly events with lecture, workshops and seminars were approaching the guiding question: Are there still lessons to be learned from the savings bank concept in 2019? The chairs for the audience of Francis Fukuyama’s talk on identity stood for diversity as well as uniqueness. https://www.erstestiftung.org/en/200
In 2019, the short film “See you in Vienna, May 2020!”, a visual invitation to the EFC Annual General Assembly and Conference 2020 in Vienna, was awarded a Silver Dolphin at the Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards. Annually, the festival is honoring the world’s finest corporate films, online media productions and documentaries. The film was directed by Robert Neumüller, produced by Allegrofilm, and featuring André Heller and Kenan Al Baredi. It won in the category “Fairs, Shows, Events, Conference Openers”. (link to video clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8inNsNaxn5A)