National Beverage Company triumphs again
How a strategy based on sustainability is showing results for the Middle East‘s premier Coca-Cola/Cappy franchise and award-winning best country bottling plant
palestine’s National Beverage Company (NBC) decided early on in the life cycle of its business to place great importance upon sustainability and community empowerment. For the past few years, this has brought financial success at home, plus growing recognition regionally. Multiple awards won as part of Coca-Cola’s Eurasia and Africa Group now affords the company a certain prestige amongst its peers.
The Financial Times, an economic newspaper, defines business sustainability as, ‘businesses that can survive shocks because they are intimately connected to healthy economic, social and environmental systems. These businesses create economic value and contribute to healthy ecosystems and strong communities’.
A sustainable business – by its very nature – will remain up-to-date with international standards and regulations, enabling it to advance within local and regional markets. The company’s most recent impressive success at Coca-Cola’s Eurasia and Africa Group President’s Sustainability Awards 2013, shows that it is one of the leading carbonated drinks production firms in the wider region.But National Beverage Company isn’t dazzled by success – its ‘feet’ remain very much on the ground.
It has continued its support of local communities by offering a little piece of one of the summer’s great spectacles, the World Cup. On a more serious note, NBC has been at the forefront of humanitarian assistance during this summer of conflict in the region by working with UN Refugee and Works Agency (UNRWA).
How can it be that NBC can achieve such success when operating in such harsh conditions, having to cope with restrictions on imports, exports and day-to day logistics within the West Bank and Gaza?
Middle East Business looks at what NBC has achieved this year.
International award successes for National Beverage Company
For the second year running, NBC has triumphed at Coca-Cola’s Eurasia and Africa Group President’s Sustainability Award 2013. Winning this major award highlights enormous strength in its strategic management and exceptional quality and environmental standards. It also shows that there is an ongoing commitment to corporate social responsibility that is thoroughly embedded within the business ethos.
During the prestigious award ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey, NBC also won Coca-Cola’s Community Empowerment award, triumphing over 96 other Coca-Cola bottling companies in the Eurasia and Africa region.
This award sheds light on the company’s contributions to sustainability and community development across Palestine and the region, and shows real dedication. NBC’s continued success is due in part to their many projects in waste recycling, water conservation, emergency relief, support of social events and a host of other charitable activities. The company’s achievements were judged by an international jury of experts that included industry specialists and academics from Harvard University and the American University of Beirut.
From the start, the company decided to be an environmentally friendly business and to make a positive difference to Palestinian society at a time when few local businesses shared their views on CSR – especially that it could have a significant positive effect upon the profitability of their business.
Their decision has been entirely vindicated – maintaining such high ethical standards is now indelibly linked with their strategy to remain Palestine’s leading beverage company.
Mr Zahi Khouri, NBC’s Chairman, expressed his pride in this achievement, saying, “This success is the culmination of our ongoing plans to help improve Palestinian society and our national economy, whilst striving to ensure the protection of our environment in spite of the difficult challenges we encounter on a daily basis”.
Mr Imad Hindi, NBC’s General Manager, credited the company’s employees with this great achievement, and attributed success to their hard work, competence and commitment. He also added, “It was our vision to honour our responsibility towards society, in order to contribute to sustainable community development. NBC has adopted a clear and systemic program for its corporate social responsibility, which has included support for different and prioritised sectors, most importantly sport and youth, empowerment of women, health, education and environment. Our focus is to achieve a positive change within these sectors”.
However successful NBC becomes, it never forgets those in need of succour, especially young children. One such example is charitable iftars, organised for orphaned children across the West Bank this summer. Held in Tulkarem, Bethlehem, and Jericho, and in coordination with Orphan Care Association, Isra Charity Association and the Association of Arab Orphans, these iftars enabled 360 children to feel a sense of community and belonging during a time normally devoted to family.
Bringing a global event to life in Palestine
Many people, children in particular, find sport as being cathartic – it has been well documented as aiding recovery from deeply traumatising events. To this end, NBC’s commitment to sport as an integral part of society’s fabric has been especially important this summer.
NBC supports local youth, sport and health projects ensuring that the youth of today – the adults of tomorrow – live healthy, fulfilled, well-educated lives in a safe and clean environment. In line with this ethos, the company sponsored a football tournament for ten local teams, ‘Coca-Cola World Cup Football Tournament for Jerusalem Academies’. Teams included the Jabal Al Zaytoon Club, whose football school is sponsored by NBC.
Coca-Cola, one of the world’s most recognisable consumer brands, sponsors global sports events such as the Olympics and FIFA World Cup. NBC, as sole franchisee of Coca-Cola/Cappy in Palestine, hosted events linked to all stages of the tournament. As previously reported by this magazine, the first event took place in 2013 as part of a global tour of the World Cup trophy. As the first port of call in the Arab world, the event enabled Palestinians to view the World Cup trophy at close quarters and its time at NBC headquarters in Betunya was well attended. NBC was therefore delighted to hear that their event had won ‘Best FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour Activation’, as part of Coca-Cola’s Global Marketing and Commercial Excellence Awards for 2013.
Receiving this award, Mr al-Hindi expressed enormous pride as not only did it confirm NBC’s status as a leading company in Palestine, but also on the global level due to the recognition it afforded them amongst Coca-Cola’s international community.
But events didn’t stop there. NBC had a ‘plan of action’ to bring the World Cup to life for Palestinians across the nation.
Tens of thousands of free fixture lists were distributed, showing times of games on TV in Palestine. The company also supported Pal Sport Network’s online competition, ’30 questions = 30 prizes’, by providing Coca-Cola branded prizes for its winners. This support came as part of its long-running relationship with Pal Sport Network.
Upon lunching the World Cup matches, games were broadcast – free of charge – to Palestinians via a giant mobile LED screen touring the West Bank. A monster truck, GO LED, toured town squares and villages, coinciding with Ramadan and allowing supporters to enjoy the experience in a convivial, safe environment thanks to the support of the local police authorities and the generosity of NBC.
To coincide with GO LED’s tour of the West Bank, NBC offered prizes ranging from hundreds of thousands of free products to surround sound audio-visual systems and thousands of branded mini-footballs. However, star prize was a ‘trip of a lifetime’ to a quarter-final match in Brazil in July.
Five lucky winners (each with a companion) enjoyed all-expenses paid trips from Palestine to Brazil, with the first of the lucky winners coming from Gaza Strip.
Supporting Palestinian citizens in times of crisis
Partnering with UN Refugee and Works Agency (UNRWA), NBC has provided ongoing donations to support UNRWA’s activities in Gaza and further afield in Syria.
As part of ongoing support for Gazans, NBC provided financial assistance for food packages and medical support for those most in need, plus a shipment of water, fruit juices and carbonated beverages for the most affected areas of Gaza. NBC was first of many local companies to offer aid during the recent crisis.
After a recent shipment of beverages, Mr Zahi Khouri explained that donations of food, beverages and medical aid came in response to the urgent humanitarian crisis unfolding every day before the eyes of the world. He confirmed that, “We, as Palestinians, are part of the very fabric of Palestine, and are committed to stand by our people in the Gaza Strip and to provide for their basic needs in order to offer support, especially during this time of anguish and grief. We especially wish to help those displaced from their homes and who have little shelter or food, and those injured or struggling to survive due to the horrendous lack of medical equipment and supplies”.
Mr al-Hindi stressed that, “The scale of destruction in Gaza is huge – we are committed to continuing our support and to stand side-by-side with those in distress. We will work with UNRWA and other agencies to try to restore some semblance of normal life for those in Gaza”.
Gaza’s economic recovery kick-started by NBC
As part of this resolve to support Gaza, a new bottling and distribution plant is under construction by NBC in Gaza to help stimulate the economy.
“Investing during such harsh times might seem like not a smart choice to some investors, but for us it was simply fulfilling a duty towards our people there”, said Mr al-Hindi.
The Gaza plant employs 120 staff, which effectively supports over 800 people (as average family size in Gaza is 7.2 people, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics). Additionally, the indirect support provided to sub-contractors and businesses who deal with the Coca-Cola plant enhances the development of the micro-economy and further promotes community empowerment.