Commissioner Thyssen awarded officially BLITAB in Brussels
Commissioner Thyssen presents the Second European Award for Social Entrepreneurship and Disability on behalf of Fundación ONCE in Brussels
The headquarters of the European Foundation Centre in Brussels, also known as Philanthropy House, was yesterday host to the prize-giving ceremony of the Second European Award for Social Entrepreneurship and Disability: Promoting Social Investment, an initiative led by Fundación ONCE, with the collaboration of the European Commission, within the framework of the European Network for Corporate Social Responsibility and Disability (CSR+D). Both the Network and the Award are initiatives co-funded by the European Social Fund. The ceremony was chaired by the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, together with the Executive Vice President of Fundación ONCE and Ilunion President, Alberto Durán.
Around fifty distinguished participants attended the ceremony, representing institutions like the European Commission and the European Parliament, as well as Permanent Representations, companies and other European entities. Speeches were held by Aurélie Baranger, Director of Autism Europe in representation of the European Disability Forum; Olivier Mey, Human Resources Director at L’Oréal Belgium, and Dharmendra Kanani, Policy Director at the European Foundation Centre.
The social entrepreneur born in Bulgaria, but living in Austria, Kristina Tsvetanova, received the prize of this second edition, which amounted to 11,000 euro, for her project “BLITAB, First Tablet for Blind and Visually Impaired People”, an initiative consisting of a tablet that includes an innovative technology using Braille with the aim of improving the life of visually impaired people.
Fundación ONCE launched the Second European Award for Social Entrepreneurship and Disability last 28 October 2014, and counted again on the collaboration of the European Commission, L’Oréal (FR), Telefónica (ES) and the Ministero del Lavoro e delle Politiche Sociali (IT) –the three founding partners of the CSR+D Network, together with Fundación ONCE-, as well as Fundación Triodos (ES), Kanchi (IRL) and Essl Foundation (AUS), in addition to two new organizations that joined this second edition: European Disability Forum, a platform that represents Disability European-wide based in Brussels and EIDD- Design for All Europe (IRL). The Jury of this second edition was made-up of one representative from each of these organisations.
Alberto Durán, Fundación ONCE Executive Vice-President, stated the need to promote the figure of social entrepreneurs “who are capable of seeing entrepreneurial opportunities in the social needs of people, thus being a key element for the creation of a more inclusive and caring European Union”. Moreover “this award, promoted by the European Network for CSR+D, which is co-funded by the European Social Fund, with the sponsorship of Fundación ONCE, L’Oreal, Fundación Triodos and EIDD – Design for All Europe, as well as the collaboration of Telefónica and other public administrations such as the Italian Labour Ministry and social organisations like Fundación ONCE and the European Disability Forum, shows how projects in which different groups of interest are represented, have a larger social impact and scope than if they would be faced in solitary by each of the involved actors”, Alberto Durán added.
On her side, Commissioner Thyssen declared that she was “highly impressed by the work done by ONCE and its Foundation. It was very inspiring to see first-hand how the European Social Fund has been used so efficiently to achieve the targets of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This Award shows that innovation and social entrepreneurship must join forces to be the catalysers of the social change.” She also added that “discrimination has no place in Europe”.
The aim of this pioneering award in Europe is to identify and promote social entrepreneurship projects and to contribute to providing people with disabilities with visibility within the European model for a sustainable economic growth. The second edition of the Award was a huge participation success, increasing to 13 the number of EU-countries represented in the total of 33 projects that were considered as eligible from all the projects received. Moreover, the participation figure of entrepreneurs with disabilities increased as well.