How innovation helped drive prosperity for entrepreneurs during COVID-19

  • Thoughts that stimulate prosperity can build a future that everyone can celebrate and share, while strengthening and protecting the natural resources that local communities are counting on.
  • The BEES and Tienda Cerca platforms provide real-world examples of how technology can help small business owners improve their financial literacy.
  • Cooperation and solutions that promote prosperity can solve a number of big problems by improving skills, increasing economic growth and strengthening sustainability.

What if more leaders come together to pave the way for the future – a future that everyone can celebrate and share? What if together we can do all this by strengthening and protecting the natural resources that local communities rely on? If we could do both, businesses would be more competitive, more responsive to changing consumer needs and better prepared, helping to improve the lives of everyone and everywhere.

As we have learned from the creation of a dedicated digital platform that began operating during the pandemic, such cooperation is possible and crucial to reinforcing the common good.

Promoting Prosperity: Digital Platforms and Lessons Learned

1. Cerca Store

AB InBev operates in more than 50 countries around the world. For many small nearby grocery and grocery stores, there has never been a need to offer shipping options or online purchases. This was until the COVID-19 pandemic and strict rules of social distancing arrived. Overnight locks and a changing set of local regulations meant that small businesses couldn’t work the way they had for decades, allowing customers to come in and browse. Changes were needed to help entrepreneurs survive and ensure that residents who depend on these stores could have access to much-needed goods.

With millions of stores closing, AB InBev quickly developed Tienda Cerca, a free online delivery platform that opened small local stores in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Panama and Honduras.

The platform enabled buyers to place online orders for all their products through the Tienda Cerca mobile app or online for free for them or the business owner. It has also enabled small businesses – the heart of most communities and the livelihoods of many people – to survive one of the greatest economic downturns in history.

This program was only possible in regions with digital access. Regions that could take advantage of this tool already had digital tools and infrastructure so that users could incorporate the platform into their business models.

2. BEES e-commerce platform

Access also provides other opportunities for growth. For example, AB InBev offers its retailers access to the BEES e-commerce platform. This platform is – in its simplest form – a technology product in which small and medium-sized retailers can view products, place orders, receive rewards, organize deliveries, manage invoices and access business information from one place.

BEES was launched in late 2019 in the Dominican Republic as an investment in the digital future. These investments unexpectedly came to the rescue for many retailers during COVID-19. Today, BEES is one of the largest business platforms for e-commerce (B2B) in the world with 1.8 million active users each month.

Programs such as BEES and Tienda Cerca help small business owners access personalized educational content that enables them, among other things, to improve financial literacy and leadership skills, and harness the power of technology to grow their businesses and growing opportunities for their communities.

Of course, such growth is not created by one company or organization. Digital access is provided by technologists, investors, entrepreneurs and heads of government, whose collaboration and broad thinking create a platform for even greater growth and ideas.

Allow prosperity in the years to come

The type of cooperation that led to these decisions will be needed for other big problems.

Take water as an example. Water is not only a key ingredient of our products, but also an important resource for the health and well-being of every community around the world. Climate pressure, inadequate infrastructure and poor governance exacerbate water problems. The growing shortage of fresh water is not just a problem for our company; it is a global risk to the economic, social and environmental well-being of our communities.

That is why we are committed to improving the availability and quality of water in 100% of our communities facing high levels of water stress by 2025. One of the ways we do this is by helping to stimulate the cooperation needed to solve these problems. We work with Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, an organization in Germany that works with governments and other key stakeholders to provide services that support international development. Through our partnership with GIZ, we aim to promote efficient and renewable farming practices through the develoPPP funding program implemented by GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In particular, we support farmers in introducing drip irrigation technology and conserving agriculture, as well as in accessing affordable financial services to make these changes. We are also implementing nature-based solutions to increase water infiltration into the aquifer, helping to improve long-term water safety for communities.

Activities that demonstrate their ability to remove CO2 from the atmosphere or prevent CO2 emissions are tested by independent standards and issued as carbon credit certificates (representing one metric tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent).

Standards are organizations, usually NGOs, that certify that a specific project meets the stated objectives and declared emissions. Some of the best known standards include the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism, Verra, the US Carbon Registry, the Climate Action Reserve and the Gold Standard.

Carbon credits can be grouped into three major categories: greenhouse gas emission prevention projects (they generally avoid greenhouse gas emissions), reduction (they reduce greenhouse gas emissions) and removal (they remove greenhouse gases directly from the atmosphere). .

Projects or programs to prevent forestry, known as REDD + (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), prevent deforestation or wetland destruction. Other examples include soil management practices in agriculture that limit greenhouse gas emissions – for example, projects aimed at preventing emissions from dairy cows and cattle through various diets.

Removal of carbon from the atmosphere may include reforestation and reforestation, as well as wetland management, which as they grow convert CO2 to solid carbon, which is stored in their trunks and roots.

The reduction category includes projects that are primarily aimed at reducing the demand for energy efficiency, including cooker projects, fuel efficiency or the development of energy efficient buildings.

International Voluntary Carbon Markets (VCMs) provide a platform for individuals and organizations to offset / balance their unavoidable and residual emissions by acquiring and canceling (canceling the register after which it can no longer be sold) carbon credits issued by vendors excess carbon budget – either because they avoided emissions, or took some additional measures to reduce or eliminate emissions.

While conservation markets are currently limited by carbon credits from a specific region, voluntary carbon credits are much more volatile, not limited by boundaries set by nation states or political unions. They can also be accessed by all sectors of the economy, not a limited number of industries. The Working Group on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets estimates that the value of the carbon credit market could exceed $ 50 billion by 2030.

These are examples of how we can dream of deploying innovative solutions to meet the demands of tomorrow. But we know we still have work to do – the pandemic is not over, and even if it is over, many of the problems identified over the past two years will remain. And if we want to be truly successful, we need more people to work together to break down the bins and promote sustainable and inclusive recovery. The fact is that these problems are more significant than any single organization. That is why we look beyond our activities and create unique partnerships. The more we think about ending the pandemic, improving the livelihoods of everyone and everywhere, and strengthening and protecting the natural resources that local communities are counting on, the better.

In addition to this partnership, we must use our scale and capabilities to help bring about transformational change in the communities in which we live and work. As the world focuses on recovery and social and economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to understand the opportunities associated with economic empowerment in a fair and inclusive recovery. We recognize that we must work to create sustainable communities, we must also empower those who create change in our communities to create sustainable impact.

This is what people everywhere demand. This is what they are looking for leaders they can count on to give them a little peace of mind in a turbulent world. And now, more than ever, we must create a better future for all.

We do this by working together. Refusing to accept “good enough”. Seeking to offer new ways to solve the world’s biggest problems. And having a vision of working out solutions to problems that don’t yet exist.

Our common future depends on it.


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