Regional brewers’ inaugural Sustainability report demonstrates ‘doing business the right way’
East African Breweries Limited launched a 124-page sustainability report titled, Crafting a sustainable future: Our report to society 2021’ at Serena hotel Kampala on September 1, 2021.
Jane Karuku, the EABL Group MD and CEO, said this was their inaugural sustainability report, highlighting their various sustainability initiatives in the region and the direct impact their work is having on communities. She added that it took them a year of detailed research and introspection by mapping out various stakeholders, capturing their experiences and documenting the impact of EABL’s work on the ground to determine their core issues.
The report was launched as part of the diamond jubilee (75 years anniversary) celebrations for Uganda Breweries Limited. It covers various sustainability projects across the region – Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda – and their impacts.
SUSTAINABILITY STRATEGY PILLARS
The report not only mentions activities engaged in but also sets 10-year targets for 2030, and includes testimonies of various beneficiaries and stakeholders. It points out five key pillars of EABL’s activities, business model and sustainability strategy as:
(1) Growing value together: paying attention to materiality assessment issues and identifying what matters most to the business and the stakeholders;
(2) Promoting positive drinking: the move towards healthy consumption and zero illicit alcohol;
(3) Championing inclusion and diversity: bridging gaps through inclusion and diversity and inclusive communities for better standards of living;
(4) Pioneer grain to glass sustainability: preserving water for life, accelerating to a low-carbon world, being sustainable by design and regenerative agriculture; and
(5) Doing business the right way.
In her brief introduction of the report, Karuku outlined the five in a different format as:
- Water Stewardship
* EABL is improving water availability and access across the region as East Africa’s freshwater resources are among the lowest in the world.
* Through Water for Life programme, EABL has impacted six million people in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. EABL has also replenished and reused over 198,000m3 of water on its sites.
- Inclusion and Diversity
* To champion inclusion and diversity, EABL has specific programmes aimed at improving the chances of people with disabilities to earn a living and be a part of the supply chain.
* The statistics around gender equality in the region is also an area we have worked to improve, including ensuring access to equal opportunities, training and financial support.
* We have designed unique training and mentorship programmes to ensure that women can influence decision-making and access opportunities across our supply chain.
* One of which is our Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) apprenticeship programme that identifies and recruits gifted women across various institutions in the region.
* We have also ensured that 42% of our board are women and 14% of our senior leadership roles are filled by women as well. This represents a 7.4% increase in female hires, particularly as a result of our graduate programmes that focus on building gender diversity.
Other key interventions she mentioned are Climate Action, Building Thriving Communities, and Forming Beneficial Partnerships.
Eric Kiniti, the EAB group corporate relations director, says the group’s strategy has enabled them to set “many comprehensive and ambitious goals across seven sectors, namely: goals across seven sectors, namely: Carbon, Water, Regenerative Agriculture, Circular Economy, Inclusive Communities, Positive Drinking, Inclusion and Diversity”.
COMMITTING TO A GREEN CIRCULAR ECONOMY
Though the report is about the group’s activities in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, it has specific sections for each country. It says that over the years, Uganda Breweries has invested in a number of Water Access, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) community projects as well as provided direct livelihood support to over 25,000 farmers countrywide. UBL’s staff-driven Environment Team dubbed 'E-Green Team' has planted approximately half a million trees around the country and contributed to forest cover restoration in Navugulu, Nawandigi and Ggangu Central Forest Reserves.
In partnership with the Ministry of Water and Environment and other key stakeholders, UBL is now in the second year of an ambitious five-year campaign to plant 40 million trees.
In 2019, UBL invested in a Shs 10bn water recovery plant to help reduce the amount of water utilized in its production processes; UBL is committed to recycling 100% of water in its operations by 2030.
Alvin Mbugua, outgoing MD of UBL, said they have fully adopted Diageo's 10-year action plan as the ideal blueprint to scale up their efforts over the next decade as they transition to a green and more circular economy. Though they recognize that it will take time to create sufficient awareness, engage communities and the private sector and make progress on their energy and water stewardship goals, they have embarked on a number of initiatives in the areas of energy efficiency, and waste management.
Mbugua gave other highlights from the report such as the Taasa Obutonde campaign aimed at sensitising Ugandans about the dangers of plastics and creating awareness about their safe disposal. A partnership with Stanbic Bank, Next Media, Vivo Energy Uganda and National Environment Management Authority, the campaign resulted in putting an end to the packaging of some of UBL’s products in sachets, which was a costly end to a rather profitable business model.
UBL has also invested over Shs 4 billion, which has impacted over two million people by improving their access to potable water through rainwater harvesting and purifying systems at Entebbe, Jinja and Mbarara Regional Referral Hospitals, over 30 boreholes in UBL’s local raw material farming communities in Acholi and Lango sub-regions and another 20 to be drilled this year in Lango and Teso, water reservoirs, modern sanitation facilities and many more.
UBL’s has also invested in water treatment and water recovery infrastructure. In 2015, it invested Shs 20 billion in a water treatment plant, to ensure that water flowing from the plant is safe and cleaner than when it was drawn out of the lake. In 2019, UBL invested a further Shs 14 billion in a water recovery plant to reduce water usage by reducing the volume of water abstracted from Lake Victoria. Through the water recovery plant, UBL is providing a step change reduction by delivering 395,000m3 water savings per annum.
UBL supports the youth within the communities where it operates, by providing them with scholarship opportunities to fulfill their career aspirations. From 2006 to 2016, UBL provided 40 students with full scholarships to universities in Uganda. However, in 2017, the scholarship programme’s focus was shifted towards technical and vocational courses in response to the need for practical skills to address youth unemployment in Uganda. Since then, UBL has partnered with Enterprise Uganda to impart entrepreneurial training to 70 students from vocational schools in Gulu, Kitgum, Kampala, Masaka and Kabale.