Jollibee empowers farmers

Jollibee empowers farmers

(First of two parts)

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day,” says Lao Tzu, founder of Taoism. “Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Jollibee Group Foundation takes this to heart in their Farmer Entrepreneurship Program (FEP) and Busog, Lusog, Talino (BLT) school feeding and central kitchens. In times of crises, Jollibee donates food to the most vulnerable, through its logistics network throughout the archipelago. Since March 2020, the company has distributed millions of meals to families, frontliners and urban poor, with subsidized ready-to-cook guisado for communities and training on food preparation and safety for karinderyas.


Community pantries burgeoned in the pandemic (See “Community Pantry sa New Manila,” April 29, May 6, and May 13, 2021), with donations consisting mainly of canned goods and packed noodles. Jollibee worked with pantries to provide fresh meals. For instance, partnering with Pakainin ang Buong Barangay, thousands of Chickenjoy, Burgersteak and Yumburger were distributed in Metro Manila, Laguna and Bulacan. Gary Ramirez, Pakainin cofounder, says, “For some children, it is their first Chickenjoy.”


READ: The Community Pantry sa New Manila

Jollibee also gives ingredients for hot meals to its community kitchen partners. In December 2021, after Typhoon Odette, the company gave 700 kilos of beef to Art Relief Mobile Kitchen, which quickly brought them to disaster-hit areas, and 16,500 fresh beef meals were served in Butuan and Surigao. “Some [people] were jumping for joy,” said Precious Leaño, head of Art Relief.

Jollibee’s social responsibility does not end there. To make a genuine impact in the lives of the poor, aid has to be systematized in ways that fit the social context, harnessing stakeholders such as farmers, suppliers, parents, schools, local government, among others, to work together to uplift communities.

“To understand social issues, we look beyond the presenting problem and consider the patterns and structures around the situation,” said the company annual report.

“For instance, hunger is not only about the availability of food supply but also about family income and access to social welfare programs and services. At the core of our programs and advocacies are our values, systems, tools and expertise.”

As befits the country’s largest food chain, Jollibee has been working closely with small farmers since 2009, honing their technical and business skills and connecting them with institutional markets.


Organizing small farmers

“FEP organizes small-scale farmers into clusters and cooperatives,” says Grace Tan Caktiong, company chair and president. “We train them heavily and help them in every way possible, including weather monitoring, cold storage, financing through banks with minimal interest, etc. Many farmer groups are now certified suppliers of our company and other institutions and their livelihood has improved tremendously.”

Dozens of farmer groups have since become suppliers, delivering millions of kilos of vegetables. Such collaboration stayed strong in the pandemic as Jollibee trained farmers on how to be more resilient.

Prepandemic, their agro-enterprise certificate program was done onsite at Don Bosco Training Center, but learning shifted online when COVID-19 hit, and Jollibee partnered with Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan for a web course on value chains in agro-entrepreneurship, training field facilitators from government, nongovernment organizations, academe, and business. These facilitators, in turn, cascaded their learnings to even more farmer groups.

“The program is not easy and it requires consistent effort,” says Nelben Moreno, who graduated at the top of her agro-entrepreneurship batch in 2019 and became a resource person for the online course. “But having learned different approaches in helping farmers, [I know that] this is good for smallholder farmers in value chains where stability of supply and market is feasible.” INQ

(Next week: Jollibee empowers families)

Queena N. Lee-Chua is on the board of directors of Ateneo’s Family Business Center. Get her print book “All in the Family Business” at Lazada or Shopee, or e-book at Amazon, Google Play, Apple iBooks.

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TAGS: All in the Family, farmers

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