Nestlé is commemorating the tenth anniversary of Nestlé Needs YOUth, an initiative that was introduced to enhance the employability of young individuals during a period of soaring youth unemployment in Europe. Over a decade later, the initiative has expanded globally and assisted more than five million young people, including farmers and entrepreneurs, in building essential skills and in taking advantage of career opportunities. In its Nestlé Needs YOUth impact report (pdf, 5Mb), Nestlé features stories of people who have benefitted from the program.
"Our goal is to help 10 million youth access economic opportunities by 2030, and I am proud of the impact we have made so far," said Laurent Freixe, Nestlé's CEO for Zone Latin America and founder of the Nestlé Needs YOUth initiative. "In this decade of experience, we have learned to continuously adapt to the evolving challenges we face, both as a business and as global citizens. We renew our commitment to supporting present and future generations for a sustainable future."
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), in 2022, some 73 million young people were still unemployed or earning very low wages. While employability remains a fundamental aspect of the program, other challenges have arisen for young people for which Nestlé has the expertise to offer support.
Agriculture is at a turning point. Fewer and fewer young people see it as an attractive profession. The average age of farmers in many regions exceeds 50. Climate change is also making it more difficult. Nestlé is actively striving to demonstrate approaches to agriculture that can simultaneously generate decent income and promote regenerative practices.
Through Nestlé's Agripreneurship Program, the company offers young farmers the opportunity to learn how to manage their farms as sustainable businesses that can provide a decent income and weather the ongoing challenges of climate change. The program provides training courses that cover various regenerative farming topics, including agroforestry, soil health, and animal welfare. In 2022, over 5 000 young farmers participated in the program.
"My father did the best he could, but he never did a soil analysis, for example. And he used to harvest green coffee beans, ripe beans, all together," explained Olivia Ramos a Brazilian coffee farmer, who benefited from Nestlé's Fazedores de Café project, which aims to inspire young coffee farmers to produce better coffee and run profitable businesses. "After Fazedores, I became more courageous, and now I'm starting to make changes. We are planning fertilization for coffee trees. And we've started collecting the beans only when they are fully ripe."
Through its Youth Entrepreneurship Platform, Nestlé is also supporting creative young people looking to pursue their own business ventures or develop innovative solutions for the world's most pressing issues. It enables young individuals to acquire knowledge and skills, enhance their abilities, test an idea or grow their businesses, in areas ranging from food science and technology to the development of products and services, regenerative agriculture practices and sustainable packaging. One year after its launch, YEP has reached an ever-growing community of more than 10 000 registered users.
Anne-Liis Theisen is the co-founder and CEO of ÖselBirch, a family business offering healthy food supplements and drinks while taking care of forest biodiversity. She benefitted from training and mentorship as part of Nestlé's program and was able to adapt her recipes for mixing and bottling in large-scale production facilities.
"Working with Nestlé, we increased the production of our water for the shop test, where we sold 15% more product than we expected. The Nestlé R+D Accelerator enabled us to perfect and produce five water recipes and gave us a better understanding of the Swiss market and its consumers," she commented.
You can read more stories of people who benefitted from the program in our Youth impact report (pdf, 5Mb).