Annual Report 2023

Other direct support

We establish partnerships with different institutions to identify and respond to social cohesion challenges in areas such as healthy eating, promoting reading habits, and social inclusion1.

Volunteering and internal campaigns

In Portugal, 412 employees participated in volunteer initiatives, donating around 2,235 hours of their time2. Although the number of people involved decreased 30% compared to the previous year, volunteer hours increased 231% as a result of World Youth Day, which took place in Lisbon in August (see feature box on WYD). We invited our employees to participate in different volunteer activities to assist in the logistics and the food safety of the products available to pilgrims. A total of 329 employees participated in actions to help the event, offering a total of 1,515 volunteer hours.

Other volunteering initiatives included “Voluntários Clientes 70+” (70+ Customer Volunteers), a programme created in 2020 during the Covid-19 lockdowns to help elderly customers do their shopping and delivering their purchases to their homes. This programme was continued in 2023, supporting mostly customers with reduced mobility, digital illiteracy and no family or network support. Since the programme was launched, 233 volunteers went shopping for more than 370 customers, making over 4,200 deliveries (more than 111,000 products).

Junior Achievement Portugal is a non-profit organisation whose mission is to inspire and prepare children and young people for the future. Activities are focused on three pillars (entrepreneurship and citizenship, financial literacy, employability skills) and our volunteers collaborated with six schools and impacted 282 pupils, in a total of 114 volunteering hours.

We again welcomed four trainees from the Girl Move Association, an initiative aimed at training and empowering young Mozambican women to become agents of development in their communities. The Girl Movers spent a month in Portugal and in the first week they visited various facilities to learn about our value chain, followed by an internship lasting three weeks with eight tutors in their areas of interest. An additional 32 employees also offered their time to teach the trainees. These 40 volunteers devoted 584 hours to the initiative.

Although EPIS – Empresários pela Inclusão Social (Entrepreneurs for Social Inclusion) is an association focused primarily on supporting young students, particularly those from vulnerable backgrounds, to promote their success at school, the quality of education and training systems, the employability and integration, it also runs other volunteer programmes with companies. In 2023 we participated in the EPIS Volunteers’ Meeting at the Monsanto Forest Park in Lisbon with four volunteers. We helped collect 3.7 tonnes of ceramic waste and more than 2,000 litres of plastic, glass and paper waste. We also helped monitoring invasive species – acacias and pittosporum – and building an insect hotel.

As in 2022, we joined Portugal Chama, a campaign by the Portuguese Agency for the Integrated Management of Forest Fires, aimed at raising public awareness, especially in areas most at risk of fire, of the importance of prevention during the hottest months of the year. With the same goal of fire prevention, Pingo Doce and Recheio promoted the National Road Safety Authority’s “O Melhor Presente É Estar Presente” (The Best Gift Is To Be Present) campaign in their stores, in leaflets and on social media, calling for safe driving on roads, particularly during the festive season, when there is more traffic.

In Colombia, four volunteering sessions were held with 115 employees devoting 30 hours of their time. Most noteworthy are the support for the building of a house for a vulnerable family in Bogotá, the planting of 40 flowers and 80 trees in a forest reserve in the city of Bogotá, in partnership with the Biblioseo Foundation and the preparation of 600 basic food baskets at the Bogotá Food Bank for people in vulnerable situations.

Two volunteers holding a tree that is about to be planted (photo)

Promoting healthy eating habits and lifestyles

Since 2016, and in Portugal, we have sponsored the Eco-Schools Alimentação Saudável e Sustentável (Healthy and Sustainable Food) programme, promoted by ABAE – European Blue Flag Association. The programme raises awareness among students on issues such as eating habits, nutrition, and the sustainability of agrifood production. In the 2022/2023 edition, 284 entries were submitted by 348 schools across the country. The works submitted tackled challenges such as:

  • making people aware of the importance of more sustainable food choices, prioritising the consumption of seasonal and, where possible, organically grown local fruit and vegetables;
  • involving families and guardians in the preparation of healthy, sustainable, nutritious and varied lunch boxes;
  • reusing the discarded edible parts of food, sharing recipes that make use of leftover food;
  • creating complete menus, using local and seasonal ingredients, that can be implemented in school canteens;
  • promoting the Mediterranean Diet through artistic and digital expression.

Promoting literature and reading habits

Cover of the book

Promoting family reading habits from an early age is a way of developing children’s literacy and contributing to more informed and prepared societies. To this end, and besides selling books at affordable prices, Pingo Doce and Biedronka hold children’s literature competitions that foster the emergence of new authors and illustrators. The winners of the two stages of the competition – writing and illustration – are guaranteed publication of their work and that the book is sold exclusively in each of the two banners’ stores. Each winner in each of the stages, both in Portugal and in Poland, receives a monetary prize of 25,000 euros.

In 2023, a total of 3,692 entries for the writing stage and 846 for the illustration stage were received in the tenth edition of the Pingo Doce Children’s Literature Prize. More than 2,100 copies of O Livro que Não Sabia o que Queria Ser (The Book That Didn’t Know What It Wanted to Be), by Márcio Martins (text) and Cláudia Abrantes (illustration), were sold in 2023.

Cover of the book

Piórko (Biedronka Children’s Literature Prize) has been sponsored by the Polish Children’s Ombudsman since the first edition. The ninth edition received over 2,130 entries for the writing stage. Sernik z Kamieniami (Cheesecake with Stones) by Joanna Czarny won the contest and inspired more than 760 illustrators who submitted entries for the second stage of the prize, which was won by Aleksandra Lipka. Since the initiative was launched in 2015, more than 560,000 copies of the winning books have been sold, with the winning book of the 2023 edition selling over 12,000 copies during the year.

In Portugal, in addition to its habitual presence at the Lisbon and Porto Book Fairs, Pingo Doce took its pavilions to the first edition of the Loures Book Festival (a municipality north of Lisbon), the Tavira Fair (Algarve), and the first edition of the Braga Literary Festival. At these events, open to the general public and children, exclusive children’s books were sold and reading, and autograph sessions were held with the winners of the Pingo Doce Children’s Literature Prize.

Around 70 exclusive books were also delivered to the libraries of the schools in Porto de Mós (Leiria district), which are attended by more than 2,500 children. During Reading Week, which is part of the National Reading Plan, Pingo Doce employees organised book reading sessions for the pupils of these schools. Over 140 books were also donated to the University of Beira Interior and the Loures Parish Council.

Promoting social inclusion and entrepreneurship

Biedronka has been the main sponsor of the Nadzieja Na Mundial Association (Hope for Mundial) since 2018. The association supports the development of children in institutions, helping them to socialise through sport and holding football tournaments with other children and young people from Poland, other European countries and the rest of the world. In 2023, and for the first time since 2020, the World Cup was held again, which saw more than 200 young people up to the age of 17, from countries such as Portugal, Jordan, Thailand and Madagascar, travel to Warsaw to play football, win prizes, socialise and enjoy attractions such as the “Biedronka Zone”, with fitness tests and other competitions. Biedronka invested more than 140,000 euros in the event.

Five young football players in a football field, in motion (photo)
Cheering footballers holding up a cup they just won (photo)

To celebrate birth in Poland, Biedronka offered more than 38,000 packs of products to children born in the country and registered on the Dada Club website (the Company’s Private Brand range of hygiene and childcare products and market leader in the nappy segment).

In 2021, Biedronka was the first retailer in Poland to launch a programme dedicated to fighting period poverty3, the “Together We’ll Start a Period of Change”. Biedronka committed to supporting the project until 2023, providing more than 3.5 million Private Brand Femina tampons and pads to Okresowa Koalicja e Akcja Menstruacja. In 2023, around 45,000 euros worth of products were donated.

Hebe continued its involvement in the initiative “Discover yourself with Hebe”, in partnership with the One Day Foundation, aimed at promoting the social and professional inclusion of young adults who enter working life after ageing out of orphanages. The 13 participants worked in 12 Hebe stores for two months. Hebe also donated nearly 7,700 euros to the third edition of the TOP Women in e-business programme created by Fundacja Kobiety E-Biznesu (Foundation for Women in E-Business).

Ara maintained the support programme for low-income mothers with the distribution of welcome kits for their newborns. With the initial goal of supporting 1,500 families per year, the project was implemented in hospitals with the highest number of deliveries in six Colombian cities. More than 5,100 kits were offered containing nappies, shampoo, soaps and other essential products from the Bubu Private Brand range specialising in baby care, and also a micellar water and sanitary pads for the mothers. 10,344 mothers and new-born babies were impacted.

In the year, Ara resumed its “Madres Comunitárias” (Community Mothers) programme, developed with Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar (ICBF – Colombian Institute for Family Wellbeing), to donate food for the 243 nannies who look after 2,430 children (an average of ten children per nanny) in the municipalities with the highest malnutrition rates in the country: La Guajira, Chocó, Norte de Santander, Nariño and Cauca. Support was provided in the form of gift cards worth around 38,000 euros.

1 To learn about other direct support initiatives, visit the Supporting Surrounding Communities page on our corporate website.

2 Only volunteer hours during working hours are considered. To learn more about these and other volunteer initiatives and internal campaigns, visit the Supporting Surrounding Communities page on our corporate website.

3According to a study conducted by the Kulczyk Foundation, one out of five women in Poland have difficulty buying suitable hygiene products and 40% of women with financial difficulties were forced to stop buying hygiene products.

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