It's in all our hands to make a difference: Meet the teams behind our global response to COVID-19

Posted: August 31, 2020
It's in all our hands to make a difference: Meet the teams behind our global response to COVID-19

At AB InBev, there's one thing we love as much as beer and that's bringing people together for a better world. But the global pandemic has dramatically changed the world as we know it. Our communities are facing unprecedented challenges, many of our restaurant and pub partners are struggling, and consumers, like all of us, are looking for some sense of normalcy. 

As the world's largest brewer you may wonder what we have to offer during such challenging times. Turns out – more than we could have ever imagined. Read on for the stories of Lia, Valentina and Heidi, whose teams fearlessly stepped up to do what was right for the places we call home and for each other. Because even though we're at a distance, we're in this together so our world can get better. 

A collective force for good 

Lia Bertoni, Global Director Brand & Creative Excellence 

"Usually, I'm helping to elevate the creative capabilities of our marketing teams around the world. But this year, I was asked to be part of a companywide global task force that set out to solve some of the most pressing consumer problems brought on by COVID-19. 

It was incredible to see our marketers quickly coming together as a collective force, searching for solutions that would keep our communities safe and healthy. We tapped into our existing infrastructure and partnerships, and soon our breweries were helping produce hand sanitizers in 20 countries and making face shields out of plastic beer crates. 

As the pandemic evolved, we did too. The task force created an efficient process to regularly review more ‘ideas for good' coming from people across our company. Since March, we've selected and scaled 68 ideas, and 10 have already become global platforms. For example, in just one month, 23 markets created and launched a voucher program with Stella Artois to help support 20,000 pubs and restaurants globally. Even better, we took what we've learned and created  an open platform  so anyone (over legal drinking age) can pitch their big ideas for a better world to AB InBev. 

I'm so proud of my colleagues and excited to see the impact we have on people's lives. If I've learned anything from this experience, it's that you cannot underestimate the power of innovation and creativity – or the power of bringing people together.”  

Always adapting, brewing up better

Valentina  Bordon Gutierrez, Global Director Brewing & Quality 

“Our team makes sure AB InBev beers are brewed to the highest quality standards in the safest, cleanest environment possible. As you can imagine, a global pandemic has intensified our work like never before – we have nearly 300 breweries globally!

We were thankful to learn from our amazing colleagues in China, who were the first to face the virus. In March, our supply chain teams quickly mobilized to create new policies and procedures to keep our people and products safe around the world. Together we established socially distanced shift handovers, increased sanitation protocols, and defined new protocols for testing and temperature checks. I'm an engineer who specializes in microbiology and food safety, but I feel like I got an honorary medical degree after spending hours (and hours) studying journals and health guidelines to ensure our people's health and safety.  

In fact, our whole team is learning new things and adapting every day. We've introduced new technologies, like a contact tracing mobile app, and also improved how we preserve our natural ingredients and products during unpredictable times. We're even manufacturing face masks at several of our breweries to ensure they are available for our colleagues and our communities.  

After 13 years with our company it's been incredible to see us collaborate like never before. Everyone has been patient and supportive, and most of all, committed to doing what's right. There's still a lot to do but we're doing it together and I'm honored to be a part of it!”

Showing up for each other

Heidi Bartis, Corporate Affairs Manager for South Africa, Lesotho and Eswatini 

“For more than 100 years, our company has risen to meet the needs of the people of South Africa. I'm proud to be part of a team that does so every day by partnering with governments and non-profit organizations to reduce the harmful use of alcohol among our citizens. 

The pandemic brought about new challenges, where once again we knew we could help. It started when our innovation, product and brewing teams developed a solution with an accredited manufacturer to address the hand sanitizer shortage; specifically, a process to extract ethanol leftover from brewing our zero-alcohol beers. Using the donated ethanol, the manufacturer produced 150,000 liters of hand sanitizer which were donated, along with 100,000 face shields, to health care workers, educators and law enforcement in South Africa, Lesotho and Eswatini.  

But there was another massive problem facing our community: people were hungry. So we jumped into action, partnering with the NGO Rise Against Hunger to donate and distribute 55,000 meals to families in various provinces in South Africa. We also provided five tons of wheat, typically used to brew our beers, to 13 small bakeries in the Gauteng province. 

 The response and outpouring of gratitude from our communities has been overwhelming. I feel a great deal of pride to not only be a part of these solutions, but a part of a company that knows how to respond quickly when people are in need.”

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