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A broad mindset in business can make a real difference

21 September 2010

Last week, at SABMiller's global leadership conference in Chicago, one of the sessions focused on how we can 'drive inclusive growth' as an integral part of our business model around the world. In the month that world leaders meet to review society's progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, it's important that we all think creatively about how these challenging but critical targets can be met.
One of the speakers at the 'driving inclusive growth' session was Nick Jenkinson, Managing Director of Nile Breweries in Uganda. Eagle, a clear beer based on sorghum supplied by local smallholder farmers, has become a real success since its launch in 2002. 9,000 farmers supply Nile Breweries each year, supporting around 100,000 beneficiaries, and we provide a guaranteed market price and other agricultural and support services to the farmers through our partners. What were previously subsistence-only farmers now have an income. Eagle is priced lower than barley based lager and typically attracts lower income consumers who are currently consuming illicit, untaxed and unregulated alcohol. Importantly from a sustainability perspective, the growth of Eagle has taken Nile Breweries to a market leading position in Uganda and learning from the successes of Eagle, Nile is also now working with smallholder barley farmers in Uganda, to reduce reliance on barley imports from Europe for our mainstream brands, creating more local jobs. Nile has also extended its work testing and treating HIV/Aids in the employee base into the supply chain, working with farmers, truckers and taverners with the support of HIPS, a local NGO, to make that supply chain more resilient. Read more about how we are promoting local sourcing around the world
A second speaker was Andres Penate, Vice President of Corporate Affairs in Latin America, who shared the work Bavaria, our Colombian business, has been doing to build the skills and resilience of entrepreneurs in Colombia. Ethics, human rights issues and sustainability are themes within a broader supplier capability building programme that works actively with 500 small suppliers in Colombia to ensure their product quality and business management skills are good enough for Bavaria to buy from them. Bavaria has also developed a social investment programme for entrepreneurs, Destapa Futuro, and most recently an angel investor programme that helps small businesses get to scale, currently a gap in the entrepreneurial cycle in Colombia. The Inter American Develoment Bank has contributed funding and guidance to make the Angel Investor scheme - the first of its kind in Colombia - really work.
What marks these cases out as particularly good - and worth those of us at the meeting in Chicago listening hard to - is the mindset with which these businesses approach their day to day activities. They understand that their businesses' success depends on a healthy and growing economy, and that one of the best ways to achieve that is to try and bring those who are typically poor and marginalised to play an active and constructive role in the economy. So when they developed new products and reviewed their supply chains they thought about how these groups can be better included. The managers who started these programmes were far-sighted, because building projects like these can take time, especially in developing the partnerships that are required to make such business models work. But ultimately the win, for both society and for our business, is so much greater, as Nile Breweries is proving.

Find out more about our Enterprise Development activities around the world 

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