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A little-known fact about the Dutch beer-brewing company Heineken is that it sources almost half of its raw materials from local, small-scale farmers for its African operations. In Ethiopia it sources 30 percent of its barley needs from local farmers, which the company supports. By sourcing locally, multinationals can save on import costs, preserve foreign exchange and contribute to the economic development of the continent.
Yet, buying raw materials from smallholder farmers is not done overnight. Rather, it is the end-result of a multi-faceted commitment that can span up to 10 years. At Heineken, one of their commitments is sourcing 60% of raw materials in Africa locally by 2020.