Annual Report 2023

Support employees and their families

With the mission to positively impact the lives of our more than 134 thousand employees, we also endeavour to support their families, which include around 140 thousand children. We have internal social responsibility (ISR) programmes specially geared towards employees who find themselves in situations of vulnerability and/or social emergency. Investment in these types of initiatives amounted to 36 million euros.



Investment in ISR by action pillars (in million euros)

ISR action pillars




























Family wellbeing








Based on the type and preventative nature of the initiatives, this year some of the employee support programmes in Poland, such as Razem zadbajmy o zdrowie (Let’s Take Care of Health Together), were included in the investment in wellbeing, which until 2022 had been included in the investment in ISR for that country. The investments made in wellbeing are detailed under “Integrate work and personal context”.


This includes €5,100,079.79 invested in the Możesz liczyć na Biedronka (You Can Count on Biedronka) programme in loans granted to employees, which was repaid to the Company.


In Portugal, the Mais Vida (More Life) programme supports employees with cancer and their families by providing second opinion appointments and multidisciplinary support, which includes transportation, home care services and psychological support. In Poland, Biedronka supports employees with serious, life-threatening illnesses or disabilities by funding treatment and rehabilitation. In 2023, we invested 217 thousand euros in supporting 298 employees under these programmes.

With Famílias Especiais (Special Families) in Portugal and Mali Bohaterowie (Little Heroes) in Poland, we support families with children suffering from rare diseases or those with special needs. The investment of 523 thousand euros in these programmes gave families access to treatment and medical equipment, among other forms of support.

SOS Dentist programme continued in Portugal, enabling 784 oral health treatments to continue for employees who otherwise are unable to afford them, in an investment of 53 thousand euros.


Since 2011, Aprender e Evoluir (Learn and Grow) programme, held in partnership with the Qualifica1 network of centres, enables employees to complete compulsory education during working hours. In 2023, a total of 223 people benefited from this programme. Moreover, our scholarship programmes supported the costs of access to higher education for 17 employees and 121 children of employees, corresponding to an investment of 123 thousand euros. These initiatives play an important role in creating opportunities for our people and their families for access to and/or support for education.

Online Study Hall

The Online Study Hall programme, available in Portugal, aims to improve school performance of employees’ children attending 1st to 9th grade. This is a free tutoring programme available to employees in which a specialised mentor accompanies students in groups or individually, depending on their needs. The programme also fosters the students’ responsibility and autonomy by teaching them study methods. Parents are also involved, through workshops focused on the challenges of family management.

In 2023, we offered national exam preparation sessions to the 9th grade students and, in addition to the core subjects (Portuguese, Mathematics and English), we extended the offer to any subject they were struggling in. In 2023, a total of 838 students were enrolled in the programme, in which we invested 211 thousand euros (31.8% more than in 2022).

In Portugal, to ensure that all the children of our employees have access to the materials they need for school, we continued the Regresso às Aulas (Back to School) initiative, offering three types of support: a voucher for the purchase of school supplies at the start of the school year; support in ordering textbooks; and special support for the purchase of textbooks for large families. In Poland, school kits were distributed to the children of employees starting 1st year. A total of 21,086 vouchers and kits were handed out in the two countries, equivalent to over 359 thousand euros and a 12.1% increase on the previous year.

Every year we organise holiday camps for our employees’ children, giving them a place to learn and play with other children during school holidays. In 2023, we invested 1.2 million euros in holiday camps, which welcomed 2,431 children (1,431 in Portugal and 1,000 in Poland). In Colombia, Ara organised recreational activities that brought together 50 employees and 177 children during school holidays, aimed at building children’s artistic, communication, social and cognitive skills, as well as nurturing the relationship between parents and children through educational activities.

Family wellbeing

Complementing the response provided by existing government support mechanisms in Portugal, our Social Emergency Fund (SEF) supports vulnerable employees and families, ensuring a response to urgent situations of food shortages, domestic violence, the need for legal support, healthcare, financial management and other issues. Based on an individual assessment, a team of social workers designs response plans tailored to the needs of each employee and their family, while encouraging their autonomy and reorganisation. In 2023, the SEF supported 1,688 employees, 6.9% more than in the previous year, corresponding to an investment of more than 1.2 million euros.

In Portugal, we conducted a survey to better understand the needs of employees. A total of 25,274 employees (73.9% of the target audience) responded and the results have enabled the ISR team to adapt the social programmes offered to the characteristics and fragilities of employees’ families.

In Poland, the programme Możesz Liczyć (You Can Count on Biedronka) allocates funds to respond to social requests, assessed by a committee responsible for managing the Social Fund, which is mandatory under Polish law. In 2023, to support employees in their financial management, 5,991 subsidies were granted, with over one million euros invested, and 6,919 loans with special conditions were granted. The Company also distributed 7.2 million euros in electronic cards for employees to use in stores, more than double the investment made in the previous year.

Social support in Colombia

Measures such as Fiado, Payflow and Fondo de Empleados: ATulado (Employee Fund: By Your Side) help employees in Colombia make ends meet in an adverse economic environment.

Fiado allows employees to buy products at Ara stores on credit, deducting the amount from their salary at the end of the month. Take-up of the measure doubled compared to 2022, with 56% of eligible beneficiaries making use of this measure.

Payflow allows employees to receive advances on part of their salaries, depending on the number of days in the month they have already worked, to gradually cover their expenses. This measure is in the pilot phase and, in the last quarter of 2023, was tested by 54 employees.

Fondo de Empleados: ATulado is an existing mechanism for most companies in Colombia and allows access to loans with lower interest rates than those charged by banks and informal markets. The Fund, which is self-supporting and non-profit, financed loans for 2,530 employees in 2023, mainly for the purchase of motorcycles, education and financial consolidation. To access this programme, employees need to be members of the Fund and undergo training that gives them the knowledge they need for the sustainable use of credit.

In 2023, Ara also granted one-off support to help its employees and their families in social emergencies.

To support employees when they welcome a child into the world, we once again invested in offering kits for newborns in Poland and Portugal, where the kit includes a €150 voucher to be used in Pingo Doce stores. We distributed a total of 3,681 kits in both countries, in an investment of 286 thousand euros. In Portugal we also offer a course for expecting employees and/or their partners during pregnancy, in which 241 people took part in a total of 48 sessions.

At Christmas, Biedronka offered a hamper to all employees and their children up to the age of 18, customised for each age, with food and non-food products. A total of 164,400 hampers were distributed, representing an investment of seven million euros. In Portugal vouchers were given to 13,556 children of employees, corresponding to an investment of over 340 thousand euros.

Financial literacy is our way of promoting autonomy and family organisation among our employees. In 2023, we created Contas Certas (Good Money Management) programme, which provides digital financial literacy content, holds in-person training in the workplace, and offers financial advisory and other protocols. The programme impacted 625 employees of the Companies in Portugal.

1 Qualifica Centres specialise in the professional qualification of adults, offering guidance and referral to education and professional training offers for adults aged 18 or older seeking education or vocational training certification. They ensure the development of the recognition, validation and certification of skills acquired by adults throughout their life.

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