Awards 1997 Rio Tinto Award for Long-term Commitment

Rio Tinto Award for Long-term Commitment

The Winner: Diageo

Twenty-two young people have started businesses in Pune, the former city of Poona, India, and are already employing 60 more young people. They have achieved this with the help of an initiative by Diageo (in which Grand Metropolitan has merged with Guinness).

International Distillers and Vintners, which was part of GrandMet, has a plant at Pune. So staff from there can offer advice to the new entrepreneurs.

The Pune initiative results from a search by Deepak Roy, IDV's manager in India, for useful roles the company could play in an Indian society wary of foreign-owned companies. He decided it should become a founder of the India Business Community Partnership which aims to promote fair and honest management and involvement with the community. Deepak Roy further agreed with the Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust (Indian Youth Empowerment Trust) that it would start an enterprise scheme in Pune and GrandMet would back it.

BYST, founded in 1991, is sponsored by the Confederation of Indian Industry and modelled on the Prince's Youth Business Trust in the United Kingdom. (GrandMet was also one of the first backers of Youth Enterprise Services International, set up in 1993 to spread the Prince's Trust idea of youth enterprise programmes.)

At Pune, BYST provides loans of up to 50,000 rupees (1,000) at 10 per cent, a reduced rate of interest, to unemployed people aged under 35. Laxmi Venkatesh, executive vice-president of BYST, says new businesses need opportunity, finance, advice and support, all of which BYST is supplying.

The British High Commissioner, Sir David Gore-Booth, presented the first cheques in May 1996. BYST had by then received 533,000 from the British aid programme. Some of the British aid was for release only if a British company also put in money. GrandMet was the first to take up the challenge.

The first people to receive loans included D A Satpute and his wife Rajeshri, who had been trainees at a workshop for the disabled. Their new business is in light engineering and hand moulding of plastic. A third of the businesses helped by BYST at Pune are run by disabled people or by women.

Involvement with local communities is Diageo's policy for its businesses throughout the world. Technologists at Pillsbury, the 'Green Giant' empire based in Minneapolis, got interested in a nutrition problem brought by the agency Meals for Millions. Indians living in the High Andes of Bolivia grow quinoa grain, which is hard for weaning infants in particular to digest unless it is well milled and cooked.

The technologists devised a new mill, based on handmills used in the United States in the 1880s. They also adapted a solar cooker. The use of these is now spreading through Latin America. Gerald Rabe of Pillsbury says: "We had the knowledge to do what was needed and we were successful. We take pride in what we achieved."

In South Africa, after Gilbeys, also part of the group, closed a plant in 1995, it set up the Beehive, a centre for fostering new businesses and offering adult education. The local community were brought in from the start so that, in two years, the Beehive could stand on its own feet. Within the first six months, the space there was fully let to businesses.

In China, Pillsbury has promoted better-run business through Shanghai Business Leadership 2000. This has offered training to managers in state-owned enterprises to help them tackle the social effects of industrial change.