Monday, March 22, 2010

From poor to entrepreneur through Nestle's BOW

(Reprinted from March 8, 2010 article of Malaya Business Insight)

Click here for the original article.

For more than 10 years, Payatas residents and siblings Cris and Jimmy Besas, and their cousin Julius Sagaral, eked out a meager subsistence as tricycle drivers.

Life was a hard grind. A workday meant waking up before sunrise with their children still asleep, to commute to their tricycle route in Cubao, scrambling to earn boundary and gas money before being able to take any of it home.

Today, the two brothers and their cousin are building better lives for themselves and their families as micro-entrepreneurs under a Nestlé program called Business on Wheels (BOW).

The three, who are called BOWERS, sell a range of Nestlé products to carinderias within a territory assigned to each, with continuing guidance, help and training to enable them to grow their operations and income. There are now hundreds of BOWERS nationwide, with the numbers steadily increasing.

"BOW was launched late in 2006 as an entrepreneurship livelihood program. The country has thousands of carinderias which Nestlé wants to serve better while helping our distributors to strengthen their coverage," says Sunny Yu, Head of Channel Category Sales Development of Nestlé Professional, the company’s business unit which focuses on out-of-home consumption and runs the program.

"Under Nestlé’s corporate strategy of Creating Shared Value for both the company and stakeholders in society, BOW is about enabling marginalized Filipinos to become entrepreneurs, to learn skills and confidence in developing their own businesses," Sunny explains.

The qualifications for BOWERS are simple: no educational background is necessary except that they can read and write; they should know how to drive a tricycle; they need to be able to talk to people; they have to raise P15,000 of capital for initial stocks; and most of all, they must be hardworking and persistent.

"The idea is to enable participants to start earning above minimum wage, then to nurture their businesses as various BOWERS are now doing," says Sunny.

BOWERS are taught the nuts and bolts of running a small business, such as managing funds and inventories, and conducting sales calls among customers. The carinderias in their territories are mapped out for them and they are trained to plan daily sales schedules and trips. Eventually, a BOWER can grow his business as much as he desires, acquiring more tricycles and routes as he reinvests his resources.

Potential BOWERS are recruited by word of mouth and evaluated for the strength of their commitment to minimize attrition. Apart from close training and supervision, each BOWER is provided with a partly subsidized tricycle carrier which sports Nestlé brands on its sides, and wears a uniform while doing business. A major attraction to BOWERS is the flexible working hours, since the best period for supplying carinderias is between 9:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.

Fellow Payatas resident Ronie Dacuag attests to this. Ronie was a bus conductor whose work sometimes took him away from home three days at a stretch, while his wife Elma toiled as a seamstress for P150 to P200 a day.

Often, their children had to fend for themselves at home. Both spouses, now BOWERS with thriving sales routes, are able to spend more time with their children.

Another Payatas resident, Dexter Gorobat, who became a BOWER early in 2009, was a seaman who had to leave his family behind for six months on each deployment. While his seaman’s earnings were good, he wanted to be with his family and believes that BOW will provide them with a good livelihood

For his part, Mario "Toto" Radin, also a Payatas resident, was a janitor at a supermarket chain, trying to make ends meet on his limited earnings, when the chance to join the BOW program came

"The BOW program started out as work, now it’s more of a mission for us because we have seen how it is transforming participants. They are claiming their dignity and pride and awakening to their potentials," says Jon Antonio, Nestlé Professional’s Regional Sales Manager for Streets, "We asked BOWERS to write down their aspirations. First of all, they want to live in their own decent homes. We hope that in five years, they will achieve that and more dreams."

The well-known saying goes: "Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime." In today’s real world, amid difficult times, the BOW program offers a concrete way to teach a man to fish.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Emphasis on health and wellness boosts Nestlé’s growth performance

Manila Bulletin
March 15, 2010

Most companies, especially those engaged in the food business, are adapting the buzzword “health and wellness,” but not all of them are really taking it to heart. One simple measure of success for such a campaign is to take a look at the conduct of the company’s very own people.
Let me walk you through the impact of Nestlé Philippines’ health and wellness program in the eyes of its chief finance officer Peter Noszek.
Confined to the finance matters of the world’s largest “Nutrition, Health and Wellness” company, Peter, at first, did not give much attention to joining the company’s Milo marathon although he is a very good tennis player. Peter started playing tennis at 9 years old and at 18 was Hungary’s second best in junior tennis.
But his wife, Agi, who started running during his posting in Nestlé New Zealand , influenced him to start running. They both now run for the Milo marathon, Nestlé Philippines flagship sports program.
Conscious of the company’s Nutrition, Health and Wellness direction, it dawned upon Peter to look at ways on how he could contribute to the company’s image.
“The finance function does not directly put us in direct contact with consumers, but since the company has given more attention to fund nutrition programs and trainings this make the finance department play a key role in this growth path that we are taking,” says Peter.
As such, being in the finance department of the world’s number one NHW company, Peter sees to it that his role and influence in the company is not only limited to dealing with numbers, figures and ledgers.
He not only decided to walk the talk, but also makes sure others are going to follow suit.
During one of their executive committee meetings, Peter surprised everyone when after presenting his usual financial charts the last slide he showed was a matrix – bonus targets for the Nestle bigwigs who can meet the required kilometer run based on one’s age and fitness.
The trick proved to be effective.
“Half of them did,” says Peter.
For Peter, he realized that joining the Milo marathon did a lot of benefits to his health.
“My perceived knee injury is gone. My cholesterol level and my heart are both okay and I weigh my ideal weight at 67 kilos from 73 kilos. While running, you can completely ‘switch off’ and can have some valuable time to yourself. Running is also the cheapest sports possible, all you need is a good pair of shoes. All in all, simply put, what I like most about running is that it is fun,” says Peter, who was born to a chemist mom and a mathematician dad.
“I have been with Nestlé for the past 18 years, but it was only in the past two years that I started running,” says Peter.
He has been running since 2007 and is now a full marathoner and is always looking forward to breaking his own personal record in the 42k Milo marathon. Peter is proud of the local unit’s nutrition, health and wellness programs for having encouraged Nestlé employees’ participation.
“There is no incentive for those that participate in our various programs, only good health,” says Peter.
But, Nestlé’s people now serve as the company’s goodwill ambassadors transcending the benefits of Nestle products to consumers, “Choose Wellness, Choose Nestlé.”
“Image-wise,” says Peter, “Nestlé Philippines has a better corporate reputation than any other country in the reputation index. We are in the forefront. People grow up with our products and we consistently try to provide quality and health benefits to them,” says Peter.
Nestlé Philippines is the sixth biggest company in the Philippines and the tenth biggest in the Nestlé world in terms of sales turnover. Nestlé Philippines delivers and it would be unwise not to be able to sustain all these achievements.
By endearing itself to its customers, Peter said, the company is securing its future and its people’s future.
“This strategy is something that we are working for the long-term and it is global. It is how the whole world is developing,” says Peter.
Nestlé Philippines is looking forward to a better 2010 performance in the Philippines.
With a strong emphasis on nutrition, health and wellness, its innovative quality products and a workforce that is serving as the company’s goodwill ambassadors, Nestlé is in the right direction. Peter, along with the other Nestlé employees, will not tire running the talk because it makes sense, health and wealth-wise.