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The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, ranked for four consecutive years on Ethisphere’s World’s Most Ethical companies list, took a starring role in a recent episode of It’s Africa’s Time; a show which airs on CNBC Africa and other channels.
It’s Africa’s Time is a collaboration between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and business retaining the vision of an Africa with its people empowered, its environment protected and its cultural diversity respected.
The collaboration’s mission is to promote and encourage the adoption of ‘inclusive business’ as a component of corporate growth strategy in Africa and to demonstrate how this business model can make a contribution towards the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The term ‘inclusive business’ refers to profitable core business activity which tangibly expands opportunities for people at the base of the economic pyramid, as producers, suppliers, workers, distributors, consumers - or even as innovators.
To achieve this they created a TV series - It’s Africa’s Time - and a forum for its corporate partners, called Inclusive Business Africa. The TV series tells the stories of various inclusive business strategies whilst including the work of a number of African governments setting new benchmarks for good governance. The forum facilitates an ongoing engagement with UNDP, whilst at the same time providing a platform and a network to exchange ideas, collaborate and engage in various ‘inclusive business’ projects.
In an episode on job creation and responsible environmental practice, the show visits a number of Carlson Rezidor Hotels in Addis Ababa and Cape Town to learn about the company's Responsible Business initiatives which include providing jobs and YCI training for vulnerable youth in Ethiopia, another training initiative in Cape Town, as well as their extensive employee driven commitment to greener hotels.
“In many locations in Africa, we are the first international hotel group to arrive. We focus on inclusive business through employment and people development, because giving back to local communities through business, employment opportunities and charity work is part of our company DNA”, said Friedrich Schaefer, Regional Director sub-Saharan Africa at Rezidor.
Inge Huijbrechts, Vice President Responsible Business at Rezidor, added: “Many of our hotels are located in cities or beautiful natural surroundings, so it’s important to reduce our environmental footprint. We operate green hotels because we care for our guests, for the local community and for the future of the planet – and it makes good business sense too. Responsible Business at Carlson Rezidor is unique because it is driven by our people. All our staff know about Responsible Business, they carry it in their hearts, and they practice it in their day to day jobs.”
“The hospitality industry is one of the sectors with the biggest potential for income generation and job creation in sub-Saharan Africa, providing extensive opportunities for local people through employment as well as supply of goods and services”, commented Tomas Sales, Manager of the African Facility for Inclusive Markets (AFIM) and UNDP. “So the hospitality industry is a very promising powerful sector for inclusive business in Africa.”
It’s not the first time YCI has hit the headlines since the initiative was featured on Ethiopian radio station AfricaFM.
The Youth Career Initiative (YCI) is a six-month education programme that provides disadvantaged young people with life and work skills. The purpose is to empower young participants to make informed career choices and realise the options available to them, enabling them to improve their employability and enhance their long-term social and economic opportunities.
YCI is made possible thanks to a unique partnership with the international hotel industry, whereby participating properties provide the human, operational and training resources to deliver the programme. The initiative provides a practical platform for governments, companies, and non-profit organisations to work collaboratively towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – in particular poverty alleviation.
Eligible candidates are typically aged between 18-21 years-old, have recently finished high school, are able to make a full-time commitment to the programme, and are considered to be at-risk of exploitation. Suitable participants should also be able to show a willingness to learn and a desire for self-development but have no other means to improve their lives; this means that they have limited or no opportunities to find decent, legitimate employment or continue in further education.
Each country programme is tailored to suit the local needs of its young people – YCI is used as a tool to tackle or prevent issues such as youth unemployment, social exclusion, poverty, and exploitation.