An important part of the way FEMSA creates value is by giving back to our communities through the FEMSA Foundation.
The needs and opportunities for us to make a positive difference through this channel were perhaps never so great as they were in 2020, a year in which the challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic were top of mind for the world.
During the year, the FEMSA Foundation played a pivotal role in coordinating social investments and philanthropic responses to COVID-19 both within FEMSA, as well as among other multi-sectoral collaborations, such as Juntos por la Salud. By leveraging the scale, breadth and reach of the entire family of FEMSA businesses, the Foundation helped to foster new and more unified synergies, while further amplifying our role as a catalyst for social transformation in Latin America.
In 2020, the Foundation also continued to advance the three long-standing pillars of our impact agenda: Sustainable Development, Early Childhood, and the FEMSA Cultural Program. Although some projects during the year had to be reprioritized, the pandemic also revealed many new opportunities. In all cases, we knew our impacts would go the farthest through collective action and collaboration – key strengths of the FEMSA Foundation.
Over the last 12 years, the FEMSA Foundation has created environmental value by participating and investing in projects that ensure the sustainable development of the communities where we operate. For example:
Fondos de Agua (Water Funds)
First launched in 2011, FEMSA Foundation co-founded the Latin American Water Funds Partnership (LAWFP), an agreement to contribute to water security in Latin America and the Caribbean through the creation and strengthening of Water Funds – coalitions of organizations that promote sustainable watershed management through stakeholder engagement, informed decision-making and responsible governance. To date, 26 Water Funds have been launched in 10 Latin American countries, including most recently in Guanajuato, Mexico, in 2020.
The state of Guanajuato faces water-related challenges that put its people and industries at risk. Cauce Bajío, the Guanajuato Water Fund, has been joined by more than 25 organizations who are working toward a shared mission of strengthening the state’s water security through multisectoral cooperation and science-based decision-making.
Lazos de Agua
Originally launched in 2013 to increase access to safe water services, sanitation and hygiene in Latin America, Lazos de Agua is now in its second phase with a focus on promoting behavioral change through social awareness. The alliances formed for the second phase – including the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), One Drop and The Coca-Cola Foundation – are enabling us to amplify our impact in Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and Paraguay. In 2020, following an assessment of the greatest community needs in these five countries, we redirected funds to support local food pantries, as well as water and sanitation programs –emphasizing the connection between nutrition and hygiene in the prevention of contagion. With an initial investment of more than Ps. 247.2 million (US$ 12.3 million), this year more than 28,800 people have benefited directly and indirectly through the program to reach 245,670 people in 195 communities to date.
In November 2020, the governor of Guanajuato, Lic. Diego Sinhue Rodríguez Vallejo, as well as leaders from FEMSA Foundation, HEINEKEN México and Coca-Cola FEMSA, among others, publicly launched Cauce Bajío, the Guanajuato Water Fund – a coalition committed to expanding local water security through collective action.
As part of our focus on the circular economy and the water-energy-food nexus, in 2020 we joined with non-profit, corporate and advisory partners – including OXXO and the IDB – to address the issue of food waste and food insecurity. Approximately 127 million tons of food are lost and wasted every year in Latin America and the Caribbean, despite being a region where 42 million people suffer from hunger. #SinDesperdicio is a platform of partners committed to reducing regional food waste through innovation, public policy changes, knowledge sharing and the promotion of sustainable behaviors. The program grants seed capital and personalized incubation opportunities to social entrepreneurs that present the most viable solutions. During 2020, we were proud to support competitive programs in Mexico, Colombia and Central America. Learn more about the program’s young innovators here.
The #ContagiaSolidaridad initiative – organized by FEMSA Foundation, OXXO and other partner companies, including Grupo Coppel, Santander, Soriana and Fundación Televisa – was created in response to the pandemic to protect healthcare workers in non-COVID-19 hospitals in Mexico. Citizens contributed donations at more than 5,800 OXXO stores and at more than 9,000 Santander ATMs. For each peso donated, FEMSA Foundation and the other organizers committed to donate four more– quadrupling the financial impact. In total, more than Ps. 90.0 million (US$ 4.5 million) were raised, of which Ps. 10.0 million (US$ 5.0 million) came from the generosity of Mexican citizens. As of the end of 2020, these funds allowed the coalition to acquire 9.3 million supplies, including nearly 100,000 kits to healthcare personnel in more than 180 hospitals and eight Red Cross centers across 29 states, exceeding our initial target by more than 30%.
Each donated kit contained enough supplies for a healthcare worker or security officer to enhance their protection for one month: 100 three-layered face masks and four plastic face shields (which were made in-house by PTM, FEMSA’s plastics solution provider, thereby more than halving the costs that would have otherwise been necessary). Once assembled, nearly 15,000 kilometers were traveled to deliver the kits, made possible by 130 trucks from FEMSA’s logistics company, Solistica, in conjunction with 20 OXXO distribution centers. This collaborative effort underscored the solidarity between Mexico’s citizens and business sector with the national healthcare system. FEMSA was proud to seamlessly unite the strengths and capabilities of so many parts of our organization to make this a successful model of collaboration and social value creation.
FEMSA Foundation has long believed that when children have the means to harness and achieve their maximum developmental potential, communities can be transformed for the better. To support this vision, we focus our strategy on nurturing early childhood development in three primary areas:
Through unique educational tools and services, we seek to strengthen early childhood development and socio-emotional competencies, including cognitive, linguistic and motor skills. For the last three years, we have supported ¡Listos a Jugar!, a cross-platform educational program— created by Sesame Workshop in collaboration with FEMSA Foundation and other partners — to promote healthy habits in preschool children related to eating, playing and personal care. The program uses technology to bring useful content to children in 13 Latin American countries through episodes and songs starring Sesame Street characters. Given the closures of pre-schools and childcare centers due to the pandemic in 2020, the reach of ¡Listos a Jugar! (via television, a microsite, digital channels and an app for mobile phones and tablets) became an even more important tool to use at home for more than 64,000 direct beneficiaries and more than 70 million indirect beneficiaries, including parents, educators and caregivers.
In order to position early childhood on the public agenda in Latin America, we seek to train advocates for early childhood. For this, we equip officials and other decision-makers with the right training and information through alliances with governments, academia and civil society. For example, in Mexico, along with more than 440 companies, corporate foundations, universities and international organizations, we continued to participate in the Pacto por la Primera Infancia, an advocacy initiative calling on the government to enact policies that support early childhood development. In Colombia, we are proud to support NiñezYA, a coalition of more than 100 organizations committed to the wellbeing of children by ensuring the inclusion of children’s rights in government programs.
Reconnecting Children with Nature
Reconnecting Children with Nature
As the world grapples with the effects of social isolation in 2020 – which have been exacerbated for many children living in densely urban areas – FEMSA Foundation was proud to invest in a movie that celebrates the linkages between childhood and nature. Although lately we have all been told to “stay indoors,” this movie reminds us that the power to revolutionize our shared sustainable future can be found outside. Based on scientific evidence indicating that separation from nature can harm physical and mental health, El Comienzo de la Vida 2 (Beginning of Life 2) shows how renewed connections to the Earth can be a key to wellbeing and happiness, particularly for children.
The movie launched in November 2020 and can now be found worldwide on Netflix and other digital platforms. We invite you to join the movement ignited by this film! Learn more here.
“In this movie, we find a powerful message for Latin America and the world: contact with a harmonious and sustainable environment from the beginning of life can have a profoundly transformative effect on communities.”
Companies and families
Thirdly, we seek to strengthen early childhood by supporting transformations around family wellbeing and economic prosperity. In 2020, we launched Comenzando Juntos (Beginning Together) to the public, a technology platform with a social impact that had previously been made available as a benefit to FEMSA employees and other corporate partners. The website and accompanying app provide free access to tools, guidance and advice on a variety of important topics to help working parents, family members and caregivers foster a positive and emotionally balanced upbringing for their children so they can reach their full potential.
Additionally this year, we had the opportunity to work with the Business Coordinating Council (Consejo Coordinador Empresarial) – the highest representative body of the private sector in the country – to create a new committee with the objective of bringing awareness to the private sector around important early childhood issues.
Supporting Early Childhood in a Pandemic
Supporting Early Childhood in a Pandemic
The pandemic brought with it incredible challenges and stress for millions of children, parents, families and caregivers around the world, and childhood development has been particularly affected. Social isolation, limited access to services, and closures of education and childcare centers have contributed to the problem. To help ease the strain, FEMSA Foundation joined forces with strategic partners to offer support and guidance. For example:
Another important part of FEMSA Foundation’s mission is to develop projects that engage communities through experiences with the arts. Since 1977, the FEMSA Collection has sought to promote the cultural and artistic appreciation of modern and contemporary artistic production in Latin America during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. To date, the Collection comprises 1,387 works from 785 artists, which FEMSA shares with diverse communities through exhibitions, a loan program and multiple cultural activities.
In 2020, FEMSA Foundation’s Cultural Program carefully considered how art and cultural institutions could best respond to the impacts of COVID-19. We adapted our outreach to share the richness of the FEMSA Collection in new ways, including through virtual talks and online content in partnership with like-minded educational and cultural institutions. In total, the FEMSA Cultural Program reached nearly 200,000 people in 2020 – including almost 35,000 people in-person and many more virtually – through four exhibitions and 88 activities in digital spaces. We also hit more than 4 million views of our content posted on our social media channels during the year. Join us on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube at /ColeccionFEMSA, or on Twitter at @FEMSAColeccion.
For more than 28 years, the FEMSA Cultural Program has also presented the FEMSA Biennial, a unique traveling platform of collaborative events and exhibitions that serve as a vehicle to recognize, strengthen, stimulate and disseminate artistic talent and visual creation across Mexico. The XIV edition – which ran through the first months of 2021 in the state of Michoacán, Mexico with support from OXXO, Imbera and Coca-Cola FEMSA – opened in February 2020, just prior to the onset of the pandemic.
The exhibition has always been designed to be a rich, in-person experience, but under our guiding principle that art is an engine of social, personal and collective wellbeing, it was very important for us to not cancel it entirely during such a difficult time in the world. Instead, we restructured our delivery strategy and focused our content on how art and culture can make a positive social and community impact. The result was a hybrid program, held partially in-person (for those living nearby who could travel safely and socially distance while present); and partially online. For digital visitors, we offered video capsules and other materials (such as readings and audio presentations by artists and curators), as well as content from cultural partners, such as the Michoacán Secretariat of Culture.
As of the end of 2020, we have had nearly 60,000 virtual and in-person Biennial participants, (up from 34,000 in-person only attendees at the previous XIII edition). This success has revealed that despite the challenges, we were able to connect more people to the arts than ever this year, including new audiences and demographics that we might not otherwise have reached.
Planting the Seeds of Support
Planting the Seeds of Support
Economic hardship and food insecurity have been pressing challenges during the pandemic for vulnerable populations around the world. Yet the power of art can contribute to remarkable social transformations. In 2020, FEMSA Foundation’s Cultural Program launched Puerto Abierto, a series of community programs aimed at using artistry and creativity to build bridges of collaboration and support with the families of migrants and refugees living in the Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico area. This program helped provide more than 50,000 meals to the community through Casanicolás, a local organization providing support and solidarity to national and foreign migrants in the Monterrey area.
To contribute in other ways to food security, FEMSA Foundation staff, in collaboration with local organizations, also built and delivered 100 urban gardens in the town of Juárez by repurposing wooden pallets that had previously been used to transport the FEMSA Collection’s artwork. Our teams also provided seeds for families to grow vegetables, as well as guidance for tending to the gardens so they can be maintained in a sustainable way. The gardens allow families to grow their own fresh vegetables at very low cost, which puts them in greater control of their diet and nutrition choices. To date, the delivery of urban gardens has benefited more than 450 migrants and refugees and their families in Nuevo León. A second program also included a series of workshops presented by members of the artistic community in Monterrey, designed as spaces to listen and better understand the interests and skills of migrants and refugees.
A third workstream of this initiative was to capture and share the stories of migrant families and children in their own voices through a podcast, Caravana Radiofónica, that will be made available on the Spotify and Apple platforms in 2021. The aim of this project is to use digital channels to promote greater connections of community understanding, awareness and empathy through the sharing of personal experiences.
The gardens allow families to grow their own fresh vegetables at very low cost, which puts them in greater control of their diet and nutrition choices. To date, the delivery of urban gardens has benefited more than 450 migrants and refugees and their families in Nuevo León.