Friday, October 7, 2011

Promoting Entrepreneurship in the country




Thirty-five-year-old Cresante “Chris” Besas had been making a living driving his own tricycle for 13 years before he caught sight of a poster describing the Nestlé Business on Wheels (BOW) Program. He said he was intrigued by the simplicity of the requirements: “Able to read and write and able to drive a tricycle.” The question he had at that time was, “What kind of business could somebody with those very basic skills possibly have?”

Chris signed up for the BOW Program in January 2008 on borrowed capital. He started realizing the benefits of being a BOWer on his fourth month in the business, when his daily earnings started to exceed his earnings as a tricycle driver.

In a few more months, Chris had saved enough money to help his wife set up a small home-based carinderia.

Soon he was able to buy brand-new appliances to replace the run-down items he had previously bought from surplus shops. After almost one year in the BOW Program, Chris had saved some more to acquire a second unit of BOW, which he asked a cousin to operate.

Chris is one of 418 BOWers who now participate in the Nestlé BOW Program, which provides business opportunities to able-bodied people we call BOWers, who earn by selling Nestlé products to small canteens and carinderias.

The BOW Program is one of three sustainable sales-generating programs designed to open doors of livelihood opportunities to people who want to improve their lives, and all these in the course of doing business.

Our Micro-Distributor Program (MD) provides those who are at least high-school graduates with an opportunity to become small-scale entrepreneurs by selling Nestlé products to sari-sari stores in densely populated areas that cannot be covered by the existing Nestlé distributors’ truck operations. We now have 450 MDs.

Our Ice Cream Street Selling Program provides one livelihood opportunity, where commissioned street vendors ply the streets of residential subdivisions and other high-traffic public areas to sell Nestlé Ice Cream products. Today, we have nearly 2,000 Nestlé Ice Cream cariton vendors in both rural and urban areas.

In all three programs, Nestlé trains the vendors on the proper way of selling, product knowledge and the mechanics of the program they are in. They are equipped with Nestlé-branded cabs and uniforms, and assigned certain territories to tap and develop their accounts. They get their stocks from Nestlé distributors. On any regular day, these enterprising vendors earn a net income higher than the daily minimum wage, with the chance to earn more well within their capacity. BOW, MD and our Ice Cream Street Selling Program are three of the many ways we create shared value, which we at Nestlé define as making a positive difference in the lives of those around us in the course of doing business. Our factories have, likewise, launched Creating Shared Value (CSV) Programs in the communities where they operate, which have given birth to some thriving small businesses.

Our Cut-and-Sew Programs in Lipa, Cabuyao, Cagayan de Oro and Pulilan provide a cottage-industry type of enterprise where barangay residents make use of their sewing skills to supply the factory requirements for uniforms, laboratory gowns, hairnets, shoe covers and rags. Nestlé also creates shared value through our Agronomy Assistance Program, which helps coffee farmers improve both the quality and quantity of their harvest so they will have better income.

Coffee farmers are our fundamental partners in producing coffee products of the highest possible quality for Filipino consumers. At the center of this program is our Nestlé Experimental and Demonstration Farm in Tagum City, Davao, which provides coffee farmers access to new varieties of high-yielding, pest-resistant seedlings, as well as advanced coffee farming technical support and training. We are happy that in our own way, through our Agronomy Assistance Program, we continue to actively grow the coffee-farming industry in the country, encouraging more farmers to plant coffee and converting more lands to coffee farms.

Since the start of this year, around 1,500 hectares of farmland have been planted with new Robusta coffee seedlings and we continue to reach out to more communities all over the country to encourage them to go into coffee farming. As the Chinese proverb says, “Give a man fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Opening doors to a better future via livelihood programs is at the very of core of CSV, which is a fundamental part of Nestlé’s DNA and the long-term global approach we take to everything we do. Here in the Philippines, CSV is integral to our mission of nurturing generations of Filipino families. As a board director of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), I am happy to contribute Nestle’s BOW and CSV programs to ECCP’s advocacy of promoting entrepreneurship in the country and improving the lives of the Filipino people.

John Martin Miller is a board director of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines and Nestlé Philippines’ Chairman and CEO. For comments or more information, e-mail

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