The world's largest food and beverage processing company, Nestle, has embarked on a robust business transformation plan focused on future-proofing its business model in Zimbabwe through import substitution and development of local supply chains.
Having been operational in the country for the past 60 years, the company said the strategic vision for its business is to create a solid foundation for the next 60 years and beyond, always keeping the focus on long-term sustainability.
"To address this, we have embarked on a robust and pragmatic business transformation plan focused on future-proofing our business model in Zimbabwe through import substitution, development of local supply chains and ultimately export growth," Nestle MD for Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi operations, Eunice Ganyawu-Magwali, told Standardbusiness.
"To further anchor the business model, we have lined up investments to expand our existing manufacturing capabilities in the categories we lead in and are growing to allow us to optimise on the value that will be created from the development of a secure and stable local supply chain," Ganyawu-Magwali added without giving figures.
As part of its efforts to empower the locals, the company in 2011 launched the Nestlé Dairy Empowerment Scheme (NDES) for commercial farmers' and in 2015 the programme was extended to small-scale farmers.
Under the NDES programme, Nestlé Zimbabwe trains farmers on milk production, agripreneurship, and assists them to establish low-cost models through supporting pasture development and recognising that for a dairy farm model to be sustainable, the cost of supplementary feed must be minimal.
It also came up with another initiative called MyOwnBusiness (MYOWBU), which seeks to empower women in Zimbabwe with the opportunity to start and sustainably run their own businesses by becoming sub-distributors for Nestlé.
"The initiative is at the core of our creating shared value concept and overarchs into the diversity and inclusion, and youth employment strategies as we seek to promote empowerment in the communities and societies we serve while also delighting our consumers with our products," Ganyawu-Magwali said.
"The initiative was launched in 2019 as a pilot project and further developed into a sustainable 'route to market' model for its affordable range popularly known as positioned products (PPP), which are aimed at delivering affordability and increasing access of our product offering to a large population by servicing areas that cannot be accessed by bigger delivery trucks.
"The initiative has grown, and we are at a point where soon we will launch a rebranded name that speaks to the key focus of the initiative, which is women empowerment," she added.
"The women recruited into the initiative are trained on critical aspects around business management such as entrepreneurship skills, finance, sales, product knowledge and customer care skills.
"We firmly believe that for an organisation to prosper and create sustainable value for its shareholders, it needs to also create shared value for the communities in which it operates, ensuring sustainable growth."
Under the NDES, a total of 54 farmers have been pooled together, while under the MYOWBU initiative, more than 60 women are participating.
"Our key focus area into the medium to long term is to continue supporting these networks to grow their milking herd as well as gain more knowledge on managing the dairy projects to be optimally productive and improve both the quality and volumes of milk produced," she said.
"This we will continue to do without foregoing the need to continue expanding the networks through identification and development of more farmers.
"Our ambition is to more than triple the number of farmers in the networks as a bare minimum.
"We will further amplify the focus on increasing the number of women involved in dairy farming in these networks as a strategic priority."
Ganyawu-Magwali said their ambition was to exponentially increase the number of women through a deliberate and well-structured national rollout strategy with the aim of growing the number into a higher triple-digit in the medium term.
Through their programmes, Ganyawu-Magwali said, they were targeting to close the milk deficit in the country, currently standing at around 50 million litres.
"We are excited especially by the progress we have made under the two initiatives to date since their launch," she added.
"With reference to the NDES programme, we have seen the growth in numbers especially on the small-scale farmers' networks that we have created so far.
"These small-scale farmers are supported fully by Nestlé Zimbabwe as well as commercial farmers, who are our current partners in terms of developing the requisite capabilities involved in managing dairy projects."