Nestlé is the world’s largest coffee company, and as such Nestlé buys more coffee than anyone else. That means that is can make a big difference and has a great opportunity to be a positive influence. In fact, it is leveraging this opportunity that Nestlé is contributing to the achievement of three SDGs through the coffee supply chain alone: 1) no poverty, 5) gender equality, and 8) decent work and economic growth.
1) No poverty
Coffee farmers are highly dependent on the price of the raw product on the world market. Fluctuations can make it hard for them to invest in the next year’s crop. In the past, sharp drops in the coffee price have put many small farmers out of business.
By helping coffee farmers improve efficiency, reduce their costs and improve the quality of their crop, they become less affected by price fluctuations. For example, in the Philippines Nescafé has ongoing soil and water conservation programmes in coffee farms throughout the region, which are proving to be especially beneficial during the dry months of the year.
The program focuses on encouraging coffee farmers to grow the plant Jatropha Curcas, known locally as ‘tuba-tuba’ as a secondary crop. As a good source of glycerol and bio-diesel, Jatropha Curcas can provide additional income while also preventing soil erosion.
Offering microfinance schemes to farmers also helps them plan ahead. It means not having to wait for a ‘good’ year to invest in the future.Projects to improve education, public health and water supply in coffee growing regions are also helping to reduce poverty.
5) Gender equality
Coffee farming is considered a man’s job in many parts of the world, but it doesn’t have to be. In Kenya, for example, there are women coffee growers, but they are not always given the chance to be leaders within the industry.
That is why the Nestlé gender and youth training programme was created.
The project trains women from coffee growing co-operatives to become ‘promoter farmers’. They are taught everything from coffee production to leadership and health education. They then share that knowledge and skills with their communities to educate their peers.
Results have shown a significant number of women coming forward to join coffee farming. In the first three years, the training led to the coffee yields of women promoters increasing by an average of 83%.
8) Decent work and economic growth
Comfort Dorkutso is no stranger to hard work. To help support her family, she was forced to leave school to find work. The only thing available was working as a house to house revenue collector. Not an easy job, and one that earned less than CHF 2 a day.
In 2013, Comfort heard about a new opportunity. She had seen Accra’s distinctive coffee vendors weaving their way through the bustling crowds. The vendors stood out in their bright red t-shirts as they sold Nescafé by the cup to stall owners, shoppers and even drivers stuck in traffic.
What she hadn’t realised was that many of these vendors were small business owners, working hard to generate their own income and grow their companies through the ‘My own business’ scheme
(known locally as MYOWBU). She knew instantly that this was what she wanted to do.
As a street vendor, Comfort is now earning around CHF 200 a month. Not only is she able to rent a small apartment for herself, she’s also helping to support her siblings and her young niece too. This young entrepreneur doesn’t lack vision, knows that her hard work will pay off. “I’m looking forward to saving up in order to build my own shop,” she says, proudly.
MYOWBU encourages people in Central and West Africa to develop a career and gain financial independence. The initiative, led by the company’s out-of-home business Nestlé Professional, is helping to provide thousands of people with the chance to head their own street-vending business, employing and managing their own street vendors.
All vendors are supplied with Nescafé, cups, flasks and the other kit needed to sell coffee on the street. They sell it and get to keep a portion of the profits.
If a vendor wants to become an operator, Nescafé trains them in sales, management, hygiene, quality and safety. The company also helps people find suitable kitchen areas with a clean, safe supply of boiling water to run their business. Operators then recruit more vendors from their community, set targets and working hours, manage payments, ensure product safety and maintain the equipment.
The MYOWBU scheme has already helped more than 4,500 young people start their own micro-enterprises. Nearly 1,000 of these are women.
This post is part of the “SDG Solutions” series hosted by the United Nations Foundation, Global Daily, and +SocialGood to raise awareness of ways the international community can advance, and is advancing, progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. As the international community prepares to gather at the UN for the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development from July 10-19, this series will share ideas and examples of action. Previous posts in the series can be found here.