The Serbian social enterprise EkoBag recycles advertising billboards into green and social laptop bags and folders for Erste Bank Serbia's employees

Sustainable Merchandise | EkoBag  & Erste Bank Serbia


EkoBag is the first ecological social enterprise in Serbia. They recycle PVC foil from old advertising billboards, which would otherwise take up to 1500 years to decompose in nature. Out of it, they produce bags, folders, holders and wallets.

In addition to reducing waste and contributing to the circular economy, the enterprise also presents a social purpose. They support women over the age of 45, who struggle to find a job.  providing them with training and employment on jobs like bag designing, production (cutting, sewing) and sales. In average, team consist of 2-5 women, that are engaged in all processes together. Thanks to EkoBag they can integrate into the labour market and have better livelihoods. 


"All people can and should work. The biggest mistake is when you sit back and wait for something that simply will not come. Get started, develop an idea and work!" - Ivanka Stamenovic, Founder of EkoBag



Erste Bank Serbia

Erste Bank Serbia is the oldest financial institution in the country, established in 1864 as the first savings bank (Novosadska štedionica). In 2005, Novosadska Banka became a member of the Austrian financial institution Erste Group. Today, Erste Bank Serbia has a network of 87 branches and 4 commercial centres, with approximately 1,350 employees serving almost 500,000 clients.

The bank defined the support of social entrepreneurship and the social economy as a key focus of its corporate social responsibility. As a result, Erste Bank has been the first bank in Serbia to develop social banking services and products to support the social entrepreneurs. Additionally, the Bank has also been implementing the important practice of using social enterprises as vendors for catering and corporate gifts whenever this is possible. 

The Partnership

Due to the small number of social enterprises in Serbia and the specific products and services they provide, the Bank does not have the practice of conducting procurement tenders when it comes to partners and suppliers from this group of vendors. Procurement takes place in accordance with the Bank's strategy for sustainable and responsible business. The key factors for choosing a supplier are creativity, uniqueness, quality, the most important ones, however, being socially and environmentally responsible processes and the products and services themselves.

As Erste Bank Serbia was looking for new social enterprises to buy from, they met the founder of EkoBag in 2013, during a CSR Forum fair organised by Smart Kolektiv. Since then, both organisations have established a strong partnership, with Erste Bank purchasing the EkoBag laptop bags, laptop backpacks, smaller document bags and locker bags for their employees.


"We believe that social enterprises represent a great potential of our society, and, at the same time, we are aware that they need the support of larger companies. On the other hand, such partnerships provide benefits to all participants and are, therefore, important for the further prosperity of the society" - Sonja Konakov Svirčev, CSR, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Erste Bank Serbia 




The Impact

Through this partnership, Erste Bank helps EkoBag to generate a positive impact:

  • 2 women have been employed
  • Almost 5,000 square meters of PVC foil has been recycled into bags and other products through the products that Erste Bank has bought from the beginning of this cooperation until the end of 2023.
  • An average of 150 to 300 laptop bags are bought by Erste Bank every year