Brewing a Better Future by Investing in Haiti’s Agriculture
Posted on Mar 15, 2013 by Eugene Ubalijoro
A little over a year ago we acquired the BRANA brewery, making BRANA an official part of the HEINEKEN footprint. HEINEKEN is active in many emerging markets, like Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mexico and Thailand. For us it is absolutely imperative and a key requirement to have a positive impact on the communities in which we operate.
In each country where we operate we look for the areas in which we can have most impact and create maximum shared value. We often choose to invest in the agricultural sector, because agriculture is very often central to a strong economy. Having a strong agricultural sector represents food security, strong health factors, improved livelihoods, as well as economic stimulation and growth. Haiti’s history is one of rich agricultural tradition; however, over the past years – even prior to the 2010 earthquake – Haiti’s agricultural sector has severely diminished due to heavy annual rains and deforestation.
However, with the right agricultural methodologies and processes, we strongly believe the agricultural sector in Haiti can blossom again and we want to act as a catalyst in this process.
President Clinton and the Clinton Foundation’s commitment to bringing a renewed focus to the environment and agricultural sector in Haiti comes at a crucial time in the country’s re-development. The Foundation has worked hard to make significant progress in driving local economic growth and development by bringing investors to the country – by demonstrating how progress can be happen in partnership with global organizations, both non-profit and for-profit.
We need to come together across sectors, and not only invest in the future of Haiti, but invest in our own company’s sustainability, which in itself is becoming a real driver for growth too. But, we cannot do this alone, we need partners. That is why we work together with NGO’s and the Clinton Foundation.
The personal commitment of President Clinton to this ambition is truly inspiring and his involvement, energy and devotion are truly remarkable. It is clear the President is closely engaged in revitalizing Haiti's agricultural sector and providing better opportunities for the country's farmers and being able to be part of this journey provides inspiration to us at BRANA and HEINEKEN..
The idea of investing in our communities and implementing sustainable and economical practices to create shared value is at the heart of our ‘Brewing a Better Future’ priorities where we focus on empowering the people and communities in which we operate.
And we know it works. In Africa we are working hard towards sourcing 60% of all raw materials locally. We have invested in the training of over 100.000 farmers throughout Africa, and are working to optimize farming of crops like rice, maize and sorghum.
Upon acquiring BRANA, we instantly realized that we could and should do more to support the employees and communities around Port au Prince. So in 2012, we made a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action, valued at $15 million over 5 years, to source 20 percent of all raw materials and 40 percent of all packaging materials domestically by 2017.
This year we worked closely and intensively with the Clinton Foundation to coordinate local sourcing with smallholder farmers through the Smallholder Farmers Alliance and other farming cooperatives, so that the local economy can benefit from our investment and expansion. Additionally, we have committed to provide agricultural training to smallholder farmers to improve their crop yield and enable them to compete against imported raw materials. Initial results are very encouraging and we will continue on this journey.
As we just confirmed earlier this week, we will be investing a further $40 million to increase the production capacity in the next two years. This investment will not only support local sourcing and provide local jobs for Haitians, but it will expand our facility and allow us to export in greater quantities. This commitment will improve the livelihoods of 18,000 local farmers as well as our access to high quality raw materials.
But this is a journey which is better travelled with companions than travelled alone. Being able to combine the forces of our own employee’s expertise with the networks and capabilities of an organization like the Clinton Foundation is invaluable to us. It allows us to achieve a scale and have an impact at a far greater speed than we would be able to do on our own, which in turn means that more families benefit faster and the journey to a strong sustainable agricultural driven economy in Haiti is inching closer that much quicker.