CEB Award for Social Cohesion 2020 goes to Hedona d.o.o.

16 June 2020

Paris – The Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) announced the winner of this year’s CEB Award for Social Cohesion, selected among seven shortlisted projects by an independent Jury. Hedona d.o.o. will receive a €25 000 prize for significantly contributing to social cohesion in an innovative and effective way.

Hedona d.o.o. is a social enterprise producing chocolate and confectionary products in Croatia and employing mainly people with disabilities. Recognizing social entrepreneurship as a way to approach existing social problems in an innovative way, the company contributes to combating poverty and increasing the quality of life of persons with disabilities.

“Precisely because of the unfortunate situation we all find ourselves in, it is becoming clear how important it is for the survival of society to care for those who are discriminated against in any way in the business world. I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for choosing us and I am grateful that with the help of this prize money we will be able to employ more people with disabilities,” said the CEO, Alemka Lončar.

Five independent judges from the fields of social development, social entrepreneurship, academia and civil society selected the winning project after virtual deliberations. Snežana Samardžić-Marković, Director General of Democracy at the Council of Europe, presided over the Jury, which also included Guillaume Capelle, Founder of SINGA and CALM; Dominique Lamiot, Chair of the Governing Board, CEB; Eva Maydell, Member of the European Parliament/President of European Movement International; and Christine Whitehead, Emeritus Professor in Housing Economics, London School of Economics.

“All seven shortlisted projects were remarkable and the Jury had a difficult task picking only one winner. In the end, what tipped the scales in favor of Hedona d.o.o. is its entrepreneurial business model combined with tangible social impact, namely, supporting the inclusion of persons with disabilities. The initiative can easily be replicated in other European countries, which is also something the Jury looked at. Helping to integrate the most vulnerable citizens is one of the CEB’s three strategic priorities, which makes the winning project fully in line with the CEB mandate,” Snežana Samardžić-Marković, President of the Jury, said.

Launched in 2020, CEB Award for Social Cohesion is an annual competition to recognise a project that addresses pressing social issues in one of the CEB’s 42 member countries. Eighty-four eligible applications were submitted by individuals and organisations, and assessed on impact, sustainability and innovation/replicability by CEB experts. The shortlisted entries hailed from Croatia, France, Greece, and Turkey.

The Award stems from the CEB’s social mandate, centered on a belief that the right investments in the social sector can have profoundly positive economic and social impacts on society at large.

“We are heartened by the number and diversity of projects contributing to social good across our member countries,” CEB Governor Rolf Wenzel said.

“The success of this year’s competition shows us that the CEB Award for Social Cohesion strongly resonates with the need to recognise and support social achievements. I would like to warmly congratulate the laureate, Hedona d.o.o. Today, as we celebrate their outstanding contribution, we are proud to put social cohesion on the map of Europe.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the Award ceremony is postponed and will take place on 27 November in Strasbourg.

Set up in 1956, the CEB (Council of Europe Development Bank) has 42 member states. Twenty-two Central, Eastern and South Eastern European countries, forming the Bank's target countries, are listed among the member states. As a major instrument of the policy of solidarity in Europe, the Bank finances social projects by making available resources raised in conditions reflecting the quality of its rating (AA+ with Fitch Ratings, outlook positive, AAA with Standard & Poor's, outlook stable and Aa1 with Moody's, outlook stable). It thus grants loans to its member states, and to financial institutions and local authorities in its member states for the financing of projects in the social sector, in accordance with its Articles of Agreement.