Empowering Women With Disabilities Through Employment

Bank Alternative Bank Switzerland
Client Hotel Marta
Location Zurich, Switzerland

Hotel Marta was founded by a charitable organisation, Frauenhotel AG Zürich, to provide employment for women with mental health problems and/or learning difficulties within a sustainable hotel business. Public funding is used to cover the additional costs of supporting some of the women who have greater needs. In addition to fulfilling their social mission, the management also aim to run the hotels as successful business ventures. The hotel’s management faced the challenge of finding investors willing to help secure its financial foundation and its social principles.

For ABS, this meant understanding the hotel’s social goals in addition to the financial aspects and creating an appropriately tailored finance package.

‘Hotel Marta is fairly typical of the type of social enterprise that ABS can support with favourable lending terms. ABS channels money from investors who decide the specific purpose their money will be used for.’

The founders of Frauenhotel AG trace their roots to a centre for women founded in Zurich after the First World War, with the aim of relieving hunger and hardship. Nowadays, the Frauenzentrale engages primarily with issues of social policy and supports the interests of women at work, in education and within the family. The success of the project is also down to the co-operation of the woman who owns the property who shared the vision of the founders.

The hotel is run as a successful financial enterprise, to safeguard the long-term existence of the business and the jobs, which it provides. Hotel Marta offers 10 part-time positions for women with learning disabilities giving these women an opportunity to hold a permanent job and undergo training for a return to the labour market at the same time.

Through this transparent system, ABS has made it possible to increase the support for these social enterprises with direct investments of lower-cost capital in the form of trust loans. This integrated finance package has enabled ABS to create a unique relationship between money providers and borrowers.

Hotel Marta impressively demonstrates that it is possible to act successfully as a social enterprise in a competitive market. The women employed, previously on the margins of society, are given the chance to determine their own futures, positively and autonomously. It also means the social costs to society in caring for these women can be deployed elsewhere. Moreover, the hotel guests and other team members begin to recognise the qualities and dedication shown by these women beyond their disabilities.

For ABS, as a social bank, funding these types of projects clarifies the Bank’s position as a financial intermediary for social and ecological enterprises. By working with clients such as Hotel Marta, ABS learns more about their business sectors and can further establish itself as a reliable partner for implementing ambitious social and ecological projects in the future.