PepsiCo is constantly involved in youth events, searching for and promoting innovation. The company is participating in the RiseUp youth event, in the innovation competition.
Mohamed Shelbaya, PepsiCo senior vice president and general manager in Egypt & Jordan, said that the development of young people’s skills is the company’s main concern in the Egyptian market, because they represent a large segment of society and can be employed to serve the country’s economy if they are raised and trained to start their own project.
What is your vision for creativity and entrepreneurship programmes?
Our company has been in the Egyptian market for more than 70 years, so we are aware of customers’ concerns and problems. Supporting entrepreneurship and startup companies is one of our development programme objectives, but we have a number of educational and community development programmes. Also, there are three general dimensions to this context in the Egyptian market, namely individual development, product, and environment.
We have the INJAZ programme, and we have been cooperating with INJAZ since 2008. During this period, we found that youth have creative ideas and inventions, however, they face problems in implementing them. Our role started here, as we are helping young people with innovations and ideas to bring them to reality.
We cooperate with INJAZ Egypt to train and develop youth skills by giving them the opportunity to attend several trainings at the company that cover the different management aspects of company operations. They are trained by officials in both the financial and marketing sectors, so that young people know the mechanisms to develop marketing plans and feasibility studies for their project.
We also have training programmes for technical people in universities and institutes to qualify them for the market.
Supporting innovation and entrepreneurship became an important role for PepsiCo recently and the state has given special attention to your plans in this regard. How much do you agree?
We are keen in participating in the majority of youth events, because the problem for emerging companies is not funding, but the science is more important, which is what we are providing them. So we are present at the RiseUp events and will offer a prize for youth innovation, where a committee will select the best ideas in innovation.
The winners then get a chance to train in our company and will be given the opportunity to learn about all management and marketing aspects, in addition to learning how to develop business plans and other aspects that help create their own business.
Do you have plans to expand the programmes focusing on supporting entrepreneurs?
We have a global competition and it’s especially innovative! In this competition, the young people discuss ideas with a committee of the company’s employees, and the winner of this competition will work for a year at PepsiCo. companies. Later, they’ll be supported to start their own project after completing the training period.
Many young people who benefitted from our innovation support programmes have their own company now. That way, if many companies support innovation, we will see more startups in the coming period.
In this context, we are ready to participate in any initiative or programme that will support entrepreneurs and startup companies and train young people both in cooperation with the state or civil organisations.
What are the most prominent programmes you are currently developing?
We have programmes for skills development, especially in Upper Egypt, focusing on females, which helps qualify them to start their own project. Most of the economies of major countries are based on small and medium enterprises. In Egypt, youth represent 60% of the population and if we can spread the culture of emerging companies among them, we will help to develop the Egyptian economy.
Tell us about your partnership with INJAZ Al Arab.
INJAZ Al Arab foundation is committed to supporting innovation among students. They held their 11th session recently, a competition involving about 10,000 students who will see the finals among 80 students presenting their products and services to a specialised committee. The committee will give them tips, comments, and suggestions for their products.
The level of participating projects is strong, reflecting the efforts made by students. Another advantage of this competition is providing competitive exposure among young participants so that each of them has the opportunity to see others’ innovations.
In this competition we give out two prizes, one for the high-school students’ innovation and another for university students’ innovation.
Tell us more about individual development programmes.
At the individual level, we have many programmes to develop skills, focusing on young people such as a sports programme. There are also the Pepsi schools which we are currently working to expand, especially after the success they achieved with nine graduates present in the Egyptian team qualifying for the world cup finals recently. At present, we have 6,000 schools extending their benefits to over 1 million students.
There is another programme under the name of “Ambition”, in cooperation with the United Nations, where we are working to reduce the number of school dropouts, especially in poor villages and slums in Upper Egypt. Additionally, in this programme, we provide families with food items in return for the non-diversion of their children from education. So far, about 1,000 children from 200 schools, 50% of whom are females, benefitted from the programme.
What about environment-related initiatives?
In the past 10 years, we have been able to use advanced technologies that provide energy and water. For example, the technology we use has helped us save 51 million litres of water over the last ten years, we also saved about 150 million kW in electricity.
We have also used technology to cultivate potatoes for high quality production, working with 3,000 farmers to grow more than 40,000 acres of potatoes. We also provide awareness services to farmers to increase their agricultural expertise, which helps to improve their productivity.