Bolstering community development, eradicating poverty, benefiting millions
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) comprises of activities that companies do in support of community development.
For Brasseries de Lemonadaires du Rwanda (BRALIRWA), CSR as represented in the company’s value of respect for people and communities in which they operate is central in all operations.
To ensure that it reaches the larger part of the Rwandan community to contribute to the national development agenda, BRALIRWA has used numerous CSR practices over the past six decades of operation in the country.
With the approaches manifesting through different day to day CSR activities that aim to alleviate poverty and improve standards of living, BRALIRWA has stood out from the crowd as a key stakeholder in Rwanda’s socioeconomic transformation.
In its activities, BRALIRWA uses a comprehensive approach, rolling out numerous interventions in different sectors such that lives of beneficiaries are facilitated in a multifaceted manner.
It is perhaps the only company you will encounter supporting initiatives and pioneering others in almost every aspect of the Rwandan society; from sports and entertainment, boosting access to clean water in rural and urban districts, rendering support to vulnerable members of the community, building public infrastructure like schools, empowering environmental protection in activities such as tree planting, investing in social enterprises that benefit communities and boost national growth, to giving financing to women and youth to kick start their economic empowerment.
This approach that looks at community support in a more comprehensive manner has on the onset been crucial in advancing Rwanda’s strive against poverty, efforts that have not gone unnoticed.
Among others, BRALIRWA in late 2014 was crowned by CSR Awards Ltd as the overall best contributor to efforts of poverty alleviation through its various CSR activities.
But the CSR Award is just one accolade for BRALIRWA. The most moving of all recognition as the company’s management shares is the grateful hearts of thousands of beneficiaries to its various activities.
To best explain BRALIRWA’s Corporate Social Responsibility approach and underpin the impact they have had within the Rwandan community, some of which were considered by the awarding team to crown it the best contributor to poverty eradication, we take a closer look at a few of the outstanding initiatives pioneered by the brewery and those its support.
Guma Guma Superstar; the show credited growing Rwanda’s music industry
When the Primus Guma Guma Super Star (PGGSS) contests begun four years ago, the contestants who joined it were mainly the cream of Rwandan music at the time, but even so, many were unfamiliar with the concept of live performances; a skill otherwise mastered by best artists elsewhere in the world, the norm back then was playbacks, artists performing with the backup of their recorded music.
For the past four seasons, artists Thomas Muyombo (Tom Close), Ruhumuliza James (King James), Gatsinzi Emery stage named Riderman and Joshua Tuyishime (Jay Polly) have subsequently been crowned the Primus Guma Guma Super Stars.
Certainly, the four artists in addition to tens more who have participated in PGGSS over the last four years have had significant improvements in economic standards.
Though none intends to deduce that all their achievements are as a result of PGGSS, no one would also be careless enough to disregard the role that the annual contest has had in the respective lives of the artists.
Besides, physical signs of improved livelihood such as the fact that almost all of these artists who prior to the contest had had no cars have gone on to buy them, arguably to the credit of the PGGSS platform that improved their standards of performance abound.
But beyond material achievements, many former PGGSS participants who at least survived in the contest to make it to the top five positions have experienced an upsurge in their music career after following the show; many releasing numerous albums all with better quality music.
Other than impacting music careers of former PGGSS participants, the raised bar of music quality also sets the expectations on any upcoming musicians higher, all to the end result of ensuring more quality products on the showbiz market.
PGGSS has had as its other impact on Rwanda’s music industry mobilizing a strong fan base for local music products.
This has been achieved as a result of the road shows organized during the contest; taking participating artists to places they would otherwise never sponsor themselves to, and allowing them to access a wider fan base.
In addition to these achievements, showbiz analysts, journalists and artists alike argue that the pressure which comes with the competition remains the greatest impact that PGGSS has had on Rwanda’s music industry.
For the past four years of the contest, the quality and arguably quantity of music served to the Rwandan masses has improved several folds.
Many argue that it is only after PGGSS’ introduction it became possible to have an extensive collection of only-Rwandan music; “without the previously popular Congolese or Ugandan” cocktail.
Needless to mention, good performance in PGGSS has offered artists a platform to gain reputation; usually ending up in long term contracts as brand ambassadors of leading business brands.
Tree planting activities in Eastern Province
For people most acquainted with Rwanda’s Eastern Province particularly current Bugesera and Nyagatare districts, they will perhaps not forget that these regions were slowly tending towards semi aridity. This climatic state dealt several blows to especially livestock farmers not forgetting natural calamities like windstorms that occasionally struck and left houses without roofs.
The Rwandan government then rolled out several environmental protection programs in these areas but these alone would not suffice the need for increased community engagement in reforestation to at least get the area stable again and suitable for human settlement and activities.
In 2006, BRALIRWA, as a private company established a tree planting program in the province, partnering with another local firm that was investing in nursery beds for the trees that would then be planted.
Since then, more than 2 million trees have been planted through the partnership with local residents in the benefiting districts, sectors and villages.
More trees, the number of which cannot be ascertained, have been planted by residents of the various areas, after they were sensitized and convinced that tree planting and protecting the seedlings and the subsequent trees was a prerequisite for the people’s own wellbeing.
Currently a visit to some beneficiary sectors of this largely rural Province reveals an improved environmental outlook.
Some areas which never used to have regular consistent rains, the trends have changed and agriculture is flourishing, some of them like Bugesera are now big baskets of food that feed a good number of urban residents.
Waste management and recycling
As a socially responsible corporate, BRALIRWA has made deliberate moves to invest in waste management and recycling facilities, striking partnerships with local and regional companies towards this end.Most recently, the company embarked on a bottle recycling project.
On November 9th 2014, BRALIRWA packed the first batch of broken and old bottles bound for Mwanza in neighboring Tanzania to glass manufacturer KIOO Limited.
KIOO will henceforth be receiving the crushed glass from BRALIRWA, incorporate this material into the production of new bottles, some of which are then sold back to BRALIRWA as new branded bottles.
Earlier on, the brewery entered into partnership with a local company Rwanda Plastics for the recycling of the former’s plastic waste material especially crates, which recycled material is again used in the manufacture of new ones for reuse by BRALIRWA.
Similar efforts have been made towards waste water treatment, with a state of the art waste water management facility already operation at the soft drinks plant in Kigali while a similar facility is envisioned for the beer plant in Gisenyi.
Supporting access to clean-drinking, life-saving water
In contribution to addressing socioeconomic ailments in various areas, BRALIRWA as the Rwandan producer of the Coca Cola line of soft drinks has for four years running, under the RAIN Coca Cola Project, supported the International NGO Water for People in boosting access to clean drinking water particularly in Kicukiro District one of the three constituents of the Rwandan capital, Kigali.
In rural sectors of the district which are most challenged by inadequate access to clean drinking water namely; Masaka, Gatenga, Rusheshe, and Kicukiro sectors, over 60,000 people have gained access to the utility in the last four years since 2011, and more are slated to benefit from projected envisioned schemes in the fiscal year 2014-15.
These water projects, which are implemented by the Rwandan subsidiary of the International NGO Water for People with the technical support of the Water and Sanitation Company which is charged with managing Rwanda’s water resources and distributing the utility , have been key ingredients in setting thousands of rural residents on the path to socioeconomic transformation.
In Nyarurama cell of Gatenga Sector where a piped water supply project benefiting 3,414 people was installed and reinforced with two 2,500litre capacity water storage tanks to ensure steady supply, residents were chanting songs of praise and having tarmac dances at the launch of the facilities by partners on November 28th 2014.
Many,largely women did not hesitate to share their bliss as they tapped the life-saving liquid, from the delivery point of the installed system.
In the past, these women would have to trek more than 2km, all to get some dirty, obviously disease infected water from a nearby swamp. With the piped water system installed in their vicinity, they assured their leaders that nothing would stop them from living better lives.
Besides the piped water supply project, the year 2013-2014 also saw 50 households in Rusheshe settlement of the Masaka Sector benefit from 50 rainwater storage tanks with a capacity of 2,500 liters each, 779 and 624 students and teachers of Nyarurama and Kagarama Primary school of Gatenga Sector get 10 eco toilets each to enhance sanitation and hygiene, 2,457 students and teachers of Kanombe School Complex in Nyarugunga Sector receive 8 rainwater harvesting tanks to boost access to clean drinking water, while 789 students and teachers of Kagina School Complex in Kicukiro Sector benefited from two rainwater storage tanks.
With the interest in comprehensive sustainable intervention as stipulated in BRALIRWA’s own core values, several local masons were trained on construction techniques for rainwater harvesting and ecological toilets while a two-day training session for 24 members of Hygiene Committees (HAMS) in schools on the hygiene and sustainability of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) infrastructures services was also conducted.
For piped water projects, the idea is that they are run on a social enterprising basis, in order for the communities to contribute towards their sustainability while at the same offering an opportunity for some locals to have income generating activities.
The one in Nyarurama for instance is run by a local entrepreneur who sells a 20 litre gerican of water at Frw20 that part of which is used for repair and maintenance work, in addition to paying the bills of the water to the utility company.
The manager of the piped water system however shared that in case of a vulnerable resident who has no money, water is given freely since in the first place such people are known to all.
Supporting vulnerable Rwandans
Besides community targeted CSR activities, the Rwandan beverage giant has in the past utilized the same comprehensive approach to reach out to targeted groups and individuals, and support them on the journey to socioeconomic transformation.
Such is the 5×20 project.
In partnership with Coca Cola Group, BRALIRWA during a pilot phase of the program in 2014 provided business trainings, cold boxes and startup stock to 50 women in the districts of Musanze, Nyanza, Ruhango, Gakenke and in Kigali city to kick start their cold drinks businesses.
5×20 is a global commitment that targets seeing 5 million women entrepreneurs access Coca-Cola business systems by the year 2020 and through offering business training; financial knowhow, capital and the networking required by these women to manage successful businesses.
By rolling out the project, Coca Cola and its partner companies across the globe, including BRALIRWA, aims at giving millions of women the opportunity to improve their standards of living, support their families, strengthen their local communities and inspire millions of others to venture into business.
Supporting initiative by Imbuto Foundation to house orphans
In similar efforts geared towards supporting vulnerable Rwandans, BRALIRWA in 2014 financed a project of Imbuto Foundation to build homes for orphans. Some twenty homes were inaugurated in 2014 by Her Excellency, the First Lady of Rwanda Janet Kagame.
Other houses are slated to be constructed this year, again through a partnership with Imbuto.
BRALIRWA family visits patients in CHUK
Other activities that the brewery engaged in to support vulnerable people included its employee’s engagement where they visited patients in the Kigali University Teaching Hospital (CHUK).
The visit saw staff and management of BRALIRWA visit numerous wards of patients in the hospital on the evening of December 18th, donating various supplies from baby food like instant milk for newly born babies to sanitary supplies for adults and babies.
Local sourcing of raw materials
BRAMIN Modern Maize Farm
Without losing focus on the beverage industry, BRALIRWA partnered with MINIMEX, leading maize milling Rwandan company, paving way for one of Rwanda’s biggest commercial farms, BRAMIN.
The farm which is located in Ndego Sector of Kayonza district on the outskirts of Akagera National Park is a demonstration of modern farming techniques; irrigation, and crop rotation among others, and has since its establishment two years ago impacted several residents of surrounding areas through knowledge transfer and employment.
Employing over 100 permanent and casual staff, the 600ha BRAMIN Farm has opened up new opportunities for several locals in Ndego Sector and surrounding areas, allowed them to dream of a better tomorrow.
For a casual laborer working with BRAMIN, the estimated annual earnings are about Frw300,000, made outside their former farm activities in their own land.
This additional income has enabled many transform their lives and those of their families, construct new homes or improve the one they had, and in almost all cases, improve output from their own farms by borrowing a leaf from the knowledge learnt from the farm.
Many others who are employed as skilled employees have benefited from study trips to South Africa, gaining new skills that when marketed can see them extend their horizons.
Participating in national development programs
As one of the biggest private companies in Rwanda, considering that it has topped the tax revenue list for several years, BRALIRWA takes keen interest in supporting government projects that target social and economic transformation.
Among others, BRALIRWA participates in the development of the education sector.
For instance in Rubavu district, for the last sixty years BRALIRWA has supported Rambo Primary School.
Currently, works to construct a vocational training institute on this community school are underway.
Similarly, BRALIRWA financed the construction of Muyange Primary School in Kicukiro district of Kigali City.
All the education projects have been in efforts to support the government’s initiative of making the first 12 years of education (primary and secondary) free for all Rwandan children.
In the past, BRALIRWA has also committed to supporting various other initiatives by the Rwandan government including among others generously contributing to the Agaciro (dignity) Development Fund, and sponsoring initiatives in the health sector.
Programs have yielded sustainable contribution to better standards of living
By and large, BRALIRWA’s Corporate Social Responsibility activities have made a lasting impact on the lives of beneficiaries, enabling many to obtain sources of income, and supporting others in their times of need and vulnerability.
The impacts of CSR activities by the leading brewery in Rwanda however synonymously speak volumes of the contributions that BRALIRWA’s very existence and its investments have on the Rwandan economy and the strides the nation is making towards socioeconomic development.
In the areas of employment creation, the company prides to have employed tens of thousands of Rwandans especially those who have established businesses along its production chain.
Equally still, the brewery’s direct staffers are in numbers that exceed any common sighting in a local Rwandan company.
Regarding tax revenue, BRALIRWA remains the biggest taxpayer in Rwanda, implying total compliance to national laws and regulations, all of which were key to triggering investments in the beverage industry, at a time when very few saw potential in a country that had been devastated by civil war and the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
BRALIRWA presents an approach to CSR that is worth emulating, one that focuses on delivering sustainable development to their beneficiaries