Solvay Solidarity Fund
Bonding together in solidarity
Contributing resources to support Solvay's community
The Solvay Solidarity Fund provides funding for Solvay to live its Purpose. Originally set up to help employees cope with hardship due to the covid-19 pandemic, the fund now also addresses other kinds of hardship, including providing relief and assistance to those affected by the conflict in Ukraine.
"The Solvay Solidarity Fund is truly one of our greatest assets and it continues to change lives. We remain focused on the first intention of the fund - to help people cope through difficulty during the covid -19 pandemic - but the scope has broadened to include safeguarding education, supporting people through natural disasters (such as the devastating floods that swept through our communities in Belgium, Germany and China in 2021) and other forms of exceptional hardship. Most recently, money from the Fund has been used to support relief efforts for those affected by the conflict in Ukraine"
Ilham Kadri, Solvay CEO
Every situation varies from country to country: federal social benefits and medical coverage are not the same globally for all Solvay employees. That’s why the SSF provides:
Days off, granted to employees who need to support ailing or distressed relatives, young children or dependents for whom schools, daycares, and specialized centers are closed or unavailable. Applicants also receive solidarity days off to compensate for having fully used their holiday quota, they wouldn’t have been able to take the necessary time off to cover family needs or rest otherwise.
Financial assistance granted to employees facing accumulated or proportionally significant income losses in their household, to those no longer able to pay for basic needs, to others facing burdensome medical bills, as well as to some families whose children lost their own jobs and rely on their parents. In addition, substantial assistance is put in place to guarantee the educational path of their children if they have started higher or professional studies.
The Solvay Solidarity Fund aims to provide:
- Solvay employees and employees’ families throughout the world who have been severely affected and find themselves in great difficulty or major distress in terms of health, education, unemployment, limitation or disappearance of their social and/or health cover;
- Communities close to Solvay that are facing severe hardship from natural disasters or health crises.
More than €8 million deployed to support thousands of families
The Solvay Solidarity Fund deployed a total of more than 8 million euros since 2020 to provide financial support to thousands of families facing severe hardship due to the Covid-19 crisis as well as victims of the recent floods in Europe.
€ 2 846 944
€ 5 383 364
Set up with the initial aim of helping Solvay communities affected by the pandemic, the Fund provides aid whenever it is most needed. For example, it supported communities devastated by the flooding in the summer of 2021, providing emergency aid and funding for post-flood reconstruction.
Belgian and International Red Cross
Solvay took swift action following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In addition to suspending operations and new investments in Russia, we donated €1 million to the Belgian and International Red Cross through the SSF. The money was used to support relief efforts for civilians in Ukraine, helping to provide access to clean water, medicine and medical equipment, repair vital infrastructure and improve living conditions for families.
Be For Ukraine
Solvay pledged to match private donations made by employees, raising €125,000 in total. With this money, the SSF was able to support Belgian charity Be For Ukraine, which purchases, locates and transports much-needed provisions to Ukraine and facilitates the arrival of Ukrainian refugees in Belgium. The money donated helped them to pay for two ambulances and medical equipment.
The SSF provided €10,000 to Magnificent to support their work with local refugees. This non-profit “shop with a heart” helps provide Ukrainian refugees arriving in Belgium with necessities such as clothes, underwear, nightwear, shoes and hygiene products and supports them with tasks such as finding jobs and housing, and participating in social activities.
Housing for refugees
Employees at our site in Rheinberg volunteered their time and effort to convert empty apartments at the site into housing for refugees. The SSF supported the project, providing €70,000. With this money, our employees were able to renovate and furnish eight apartments, which can house between 30-35 Ukrainian refugees.
Donations to local charities
Several of our sites have organized initiatives aimed at collecting monetary and material donations for local charities, with Solvay matching all financial donations. These include our sites in Brussels, in Spinetta, Italy, in Torrelavega, Spain, and in La Rochelle, France. At our only site in Poland, in Włocławek, employees focused aid efforts on supporting Ukrainian refugees in the local area, working in close cooperation with the local city hall and collecting money for local charity Foundation Salutaris. Their efforts were supported by our sites in Lyon, France.
Support for Solvay employees and their families
Since the war started, Solvay has been working hard to ensure the safety of our employees and their families located in Ukraine. This has involved offering help and support both for those who have chosen to leave and for those who have chosen to stay. We have set up a support network that allows us to remain in regular contact with these employees and assist them as and when required.
In April 2021, India was hit hard by a second wave, leaving the healthcare system under stress. Solvay’s plants in Panoli and Vadodara had hospitals in the vicinity that had seen rising caseloads, but didn’t have enough hospital beds, oxygen generators and ventilators to accommodate all the patients. The SSF provided funding to the hospitals to buy these supplies. “It was a great opportunity to build relationships,” said Himanshu Gondaliya, Panoli’s site manager. “They were very grateful to Solvay for this much needed support.”
In Italy, another country greatly affected by the pandemic, the SSF donated funds to the Municipality of Rosignano (where Solvay has operated 109 years) to buy a new ambulance to transport covid-19 patients. It also provided donations to Alessandria Hospital’s new vaccination center. Some of that funding will go to the hospital’s new and innovative project: Digital Narrative Medicine Platform, which will provide customized and co-constructed diagnostic, therapeutic and rehabilitation treatments.
In Thailand, 200 collapsible beds and 4 oxygen respiratory aid devices were purchased by the Rayong Provincial Hospital, thanks to the SSF. At least 2400 patients have used them throughout the pandemic.
Finally in France, SSF provided the department and rescue service of Meurthe et Moselle with essential medical and paramedical equipment needed to manage vaccination centers. It will be used for other emergency relief missions once the health crisis has passed.
Indian guar farmers, who are considered to be part of Solvay’s extended workforce, were suffering from lower revenues due to severe restrictions of movement, reduced guar yields due to poor monsoon conditions, and a lack of sanitary protective equipment. An SFF donation paid for guar seeds, masks, sanitizers, gloves and soaps, as well as the construction of more rainwater storage wetlands to collect and store scarce water supplies for the farmers involved in our Sustainable Guar Initiative.
Thanks to SSF, Solvay is also partnering with BanQu to launch a transactional platform based on blockchain for the guar supply chain. This will ensure full traceability and transparency, boost equality and revenues for local farmers, and reduce face-to-face interactions during the covid-19 pandemic. Since October, Solvay’s guar transactions have been recorded on the platform. This ensures full transparency for 2000 farmers on the prices and volumes of guar and will enable direct payment in the near future. The platform also records all the Sustainable Guar Initiative program actions, such as: training on good sustainable farming practices, school attendance for children, and the programs dedicated to the empowerment of women farmers.
The SSF played a critical role in the launch of The Future of STEM Scholars Initiative (FOSSI), by donating funding to six talented students from communities that are underrepresented in the chemical industry. The students all come from areas close to Solvay sites. FOSSI opens doors to students who normally wouldn’t consider engineering or related-STEM majors, giving them the tools, guidance and mentoring that will help lead them to successful careers in the industry. Many of them would not be able to attend college without our support and many endured significant hardship due to the pandemic.
Among them is Arianna Pankey, who is studying biology at Howard University in Washington, DC. Like many of FOSSI students, Arianna was attracted to STEM and FOSSI through her personal life experiences. Her mother’s diagnosis of multiple sclerosis inspired her to pursue biology and a career in research that will lead to the alleviation of the pain and suffering that her mother has endured, in addition to countless other families who have been impacted by various medical conditions. She says that the fear and sense of powerlessness she felt as a child when her mother was diagnosed has been replaced by an insatiable passion to be the best student she can be.
During the pandemic, many families in Brazilian communities close to Solvay did not have enough to eat. The SSF provided a donation to the Brazilian NGO Gerando Falcões to provide 1,000 food baskets to families in the communities of Paraisópolis, Heliópolis (the two largest favelas of São Paulo), and in Santo André city (Brazil). It was part of a campaign led by the NGO against hunger, which has been worsened by the coronavirus pandemic. “It is very important that we can help, as far as we can, people who continue to face difficulties during the covid-19 pandemic. I am very proud of the participation of hundreds of our employees around the world in this effort to help others”, said Daniela Manique, President of the Solvay Group in Latin America.
Ellen Pimentel of Gerando Falcões noted that Solvay “has made an essential contribution to ensuring that more than 1.5 million people have the right to food security in the midst of a pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and devastated families across the country. We need this support to fight and break the cycles of poverty in Brazil.”
While the SFF was originally focused on helping families facing hardship due to Covid-19, it was there when Solvay communities were hit hard by the devastating floods in Belgium, Germany and China in the summer of 2021. The SFF donated over €2 million to flood relief efforts in these countries.
The funding that went to the Belgian Red Cross helped 40,000 people with emergency services, clean-up efforts, and providing food and other resources to those in need. It also helped firefighters in the area surrounding Solvay’s Walcourt plant buy equipment for clean-up operations. As safeguarding education is a key priority, the Fund helped a dozen schools in Walloon Brabant and Liege replace furniture, repair damage, and ensure that students suffered as little disruption to their education as possible.
In Germany, the funding was given to Lebenshilfehaus, a home for young people with
disabilities, where 12 inhabitants tragically lost their lives in the floods. In China, funds went to the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA) to support the emergency aid effort and post-flood reconstruction.
Focus on Belgium
As Solvay’s headquarters are in Belgium, it was important to consider many causes within the country for funding. Overall, the SFF provided €112,500 to social and wellbeing projects in Belgium, which ultimately came from a donation to the Fund from the Next Gen of Solvac (founding family shareholders under 45). In addition to providing aid for Solvay employees, the funding supported research, health and social organizations involved in the fight against Covid-19.
Thanks to the SSF, ten children in the Class Contact program, who were suffering from long-term illness, were provided with the resources to follow lessons from the hospital or their homes; older adults suffering from Alzheimer's disease were given the resources that allowed them to remove their masks after receiving the covid vaccine so they could have social and human contact for their wellbeing; students suffering from homelessness were able to buy essential computers and school supplies; social activities were organized for young people to improve mental and physical well being; and a wellbeing center, which usually provides aid for cancer patients was able to expand their work to covid workers.
Each individual application is reviewed with the utmost discretion and attention by the evaluation committee, which is composed of human resources professionals and other experts who ensure that each circumstance is fully understood and given the necessary care.
Meet the Committee Members
The SSF, administered by the King Baudouin Foundation, is managed on a daily basis by a dedicated Management Committee with equal representation: