In this interview with Omolabake Fasogbon, the Managing Director of Cadbury West Africa, Oyeyimika Adeboye, explains how Cadbury Nigeria is harnessing its yearly Bourn Factor School Talent Hunt Competition to bridge the skills gap in children and reach the needy in the country. Excerpts:
Cadbury has remained a consistent investor in the Nigerian community despite economic crises. What has been its driving force?
Cadbury Nigeria is the pioneer cocoa beverage manufacturer in Nigeria, offering some of the most loved brands in the country, a fact we are very proud of. Investing in the communities that we live and work in has always been a priority for us. From producing iconic quality products, including Bournvita, TomTom, Buttermint, and Clorets, to contributing to social development through numerous community initiatives, we ensure that we give back to our host communities.
In return, we continue to benefit from these communities through consumer brand loyalty. Our investment in Nigeria is for the long haul as we explore and introduce the right snacks for our growing and thriving population.
The company recently concluded the third edition of the Bournvita Bourn Factor School Talent Competition, awarding N6 million and non-cash gifts to the three winning schools. What is the motive for this initiative and the desired outcome?
The Bourn Factor programme is one of many tools that was created to communicate some of the key attributes of the brand architecture of our iconic cocoa beverage, Bournvita, to our consumers. Bournvita is a cocoa-based food drink fortified with 17 essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins D, B2, B9, and B12 which aid the healthy development of children. We believe every child deserves to consume a nutritious beverage daily. We also believe that this is important for the child’s physical and mental well-being if the child is to succeed in life.
We know a lot of investment is made in the physical well-being of children through sports, but very little is invested in their mental well-being. Consequently, we decided to position the Bourn Factor programme as a platform that will enable children from different schools to showcase their talents, compete, and win prizes for their schools while raising money for their chosen social cause.
We are also using this programme to create awareness of the principles of recycling in the children competing and their schools. In this edition, our third since its inception in 2019, 319 schools participated in the competition resulting in the collection of over four million plastic jars and product wrappers, with 54 of the participating schools exceeding their targets.
Finally, the Bourn Factor programme creates a channel that enables us to connect with and impact more lives across our communities. Participation in the event has soared exponentially through the years, from 183 schools participating in 2019 to 319 schools in 2021. Winning schools are able to pick a charity of their choice towards which we can then make appropriate contributions/support.
What are the multiplier effects of the Bourn Factor initiative?
As mentioned earlier, we believe every child has been gifted with multiple talents that simply need to be nurtured. We know there are huge benefits to our communities and society when these talents are nurtured in a positive manner. With more schools and children participating, the Bourn Factor programme will help bridge important gaps particularly through improvement in soft skills that build a child’s character and skills not specifically addressed through the general school curriculum. They include collaboration, selfless giving, sportsmanship, community service, and competition, to name a few.
In addition, the prizes awarded to the top three schools are invested in the infrastructure needed to enhance the quality of education received by students at the schools. Previous winners have used their award to set up ICT facilities, playground equipment, boreholes, and complete building renovations – all necessary facilities established for the healthy development of their students. The winning schools from this year’s edition will also benefit from this investment in their causes of choice—whether internal or external.
For three years consecutively, you have sustained this programme. What has been the drive for continuity?
The Bourn Factor programme provides a platform that continues to encourage and showcase diversity in talents beyond academics. Our society is one which spotlights brilliance in academics but fails to see that students are capable of more than just their academic ability. There are so many talented students across the nation who just need the right opportunity to showcase their capabilities.
We believe that there is a seed of greatness in every child. This manifests through academic prowess or other unique gifts and talents, which is why we decided to provide a platform for children to showcase some of the unique gifts and talents they possess, with the opportunity to win fantastic prizes for their schools.
Judging from the entries and performance of children in the last three years, what’s your assessment of schoolchildren’s talent and ways to improve?
Nigeria is blessed with talents, as evidenced in the many areas that Nigerians excel in globally. For us, Bourn Factor is an enabler, as it allows parents and schools to encourage and showcase these talents. I believe we are creating a talent pool that will become visible to relevant bodies in the media, arts, and entertainment industry. We hope relevant organisations will support us on a long-term basis as we look into ways to nurture these talents further.
Aside from the fun and prizes, what socio-economic challenges has the initiative addressed?
We always encourage the winning schools to identify an orphanage that they would like to donate some of our products to. This ensures that the school children themselves understand the concept of giving back, while it also allows less privileged children to enjoy our products.
Furthermore, as winners of the Bourn Factor competitions, the winning schools can invest in whatever project that will enhance the lives of their student community. As mentioned earlier, we have seen schools invest in different things based on their priorities.
There are a lot of talented children out there who, for one reason or the other, could not get to enter or win the competition. Does Cadbury have other programmes?
We are most concerned about the healthy development of children, not only through nourishment they receive from what they eat but also from a physical and mental well-being perspective. We have created other programmes that provide opportunities for children to explore and be challenged outside of the school setup.
These initiatives include the Bournvita Magic Flight, which gave more than 50 children the opportunity to travel to different locations across the globe; Cadbury Bournvita Tech Boot Camp, a free training boot camp aimed at improving the technical knowledge of young children (nine to 16 years) living in a digital revolution; and the Bournvita School Programmes, which aim to support the mental well-being of children and impact their lives.
Businesses are gradually recovering from the COVID-19’s adverse effects and are scaling up their social investment. What major innovations and impacts are expected from the fourth edition of the Bournvita Bourn Factor School Talent Competition?
Our commitment is to make the fourth edition of the Bourn Factor School talent competition bigger and more impactful. We have taken some good learnings from this current edition and look forward to announcing the next competition as more schools across the country will be encouraged to participate.
We will continue to consolidate our impact through the Bourn Factor programme, investing in the healthy development of children’s mental and physical well-being across Nigeria.