At Nestlé, we believe that if we want to be successful in the long term, we must create value for our shareholders and society while protecting the planet.”
– DEEPAL ABEYWICKREMA, Managing Director, Nestlé Bangladesh Ltd
What is the vision of Nestlé Bangladesh for CSR?
Creating Shared Value (CSV) lies at the very heart of how we do business at Nestlé. Our approach is built on the conviction that business can be a force for good, by simultaneously creating value for shareholders and for society at large. Behind this vision
is a unique purpose that drives us, which is to unlock the power of food to enhance the quality of life for everyone, today and for generations to come.
What motivates you to work with farmers, and how are you planning to work with them in the next decade?
Nestlé Bangladesh Limited has won the CSR Award this year for ‘Community Engagement’. We received the award for our CSV initiative ‘Sustainable Sourcing of rice, wheat, and spices by training the farmers in the rural community.’ It was indeed a great honour for us to receive this award. Nestlé Bangladesh is committed to responsible sourcing of raw materials, which follows our global Responsible Sourcing Guideline, to achieve transparency and traceability throughout our supply chains. From 2008, we aimed to enhance the capabilities of farmers in scientific cultivation so that they can grow rice, wheat, and spices which meet the stringent compliance of Nestlé and benefit the masses. We started by conducting small training sessions by agronomists, and the result was astounding. Now, we locally source 100 percent of our rice from these farmers. Furthermore, the training programmes and awareness sessions that we facilitate have enhanced employability and promoted the livelihoods of local vendors. This has left a positive impact in rural communities and on the capacity of the country to become less reliant on imports by encouraging local sourcing. Besides the training on scientific cultivation, we will train them on water efficiency in agriculture. This will also address the current water issues in agriculture, ultimately helping to tackle climate change.
What other milestone in terms of CSR activities has Nestlé achieved?
As the world’s largest food and beverage company, Nestlé is going beyond its commitment and creating plans to achieve zero carbon emission by 2050 and halve emissions by 2025. We are
uncompromising in our commitment to launch and support more WASH programmes every year, having already supported 58 schools and sanitation facilities for girls in 39 schools till date.
Under “Nestlé for Healthier Kids”, we promote healthy eating in children with a nutrition curriculum designed with the top universities of the country, with 25,000 children already a part of our programme.
What challenges do you face while working in communities around Bangladesh?
Tapping into the remote geographies of the country is a real challenge when we try to extend our CSV activities. We have global guidelines about what we want to do. Based on that, we want to provide opportunities to people whose life can change through our projects. In our journey of trying to create shared value for society, we need collaboration from local players as well. The press and media can play a vital role here bringing news about the issues that remote areas in the country face. There are many NGOs that are excellent local players, and they need to come forward to collaborate with companies so that more people can be benefitted. The local government can also work closely with companies, which will ultimately give the edge to the company for fruitful implementation. I believe good things should be amplified, and better collaboration and communication can yield successful CSV implementation.
What are your thoughts on the future of CSR in Bangladesh?
CSR activities have evolved, not only in Bangladesh but globally. Not far back, CSR was only seasonal, limited to crisis response or a one-time donation. Nowadays, CSR is a business
strategy, and it is incorporated into all business activities. At Nestlé, we believe that if we want to be successful in the long term, we must create value for our shareholders and society
while protecting the planet. So, our prospect is now more focused on environmental sustainability