Starbucks social impact agenda reaches out to thousands of young Saudis

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JEDDAH — In line with the objectives outlined in Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program, Starbucks Saudi Arabia plays its part in advancing towards empowering Saudi youths, investing in the Saudi market, and changing perceptions in the Saudi society about the value of work in the retail and services sector.

Now in its third year, Starbucks' social advocacy campaign has reached some milestones, with more than 365 youths receiving career training, the size of the Saudi workforce in the company rising to 485, and a growing numbers of young Saudi men and women changing their mentality and joining the retail and services sector in general.

Starbucks' national advocacy campaign consists of various training, employment, and social engagement programs targeting Saudi youths of both sexes. The company partnered with the Education for Employment (EFE), the leading youth employment organization in the region, to provide workforce entry programs called “Pathways to a Job” and “Opportunity Café” to provide Saudi youth with the skills and insight they need to enter the job market and fast-track their careers into the service sector. Under the two programs, more than 55 workshops have so far been held in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, attracting more than 800 trainees.

Starbucks' Management Training Program (MTP) provides fresh Saudi graduates, both male and female, with the right tools and training that make them eligible for management roles at its stores. The program is focused towards empowering, nurturing and inspiring young Saudi individuals for suitable management level roles in the retail sector. So far, over 115 Saudis have graduated from the MTP.

On the barista level, the company offers its partners, who include 415 young Saudis, continuous on-the job training to get them immersed into the Starbucks culture and learn the company's values and procedures. The training helps these young partners improve their social skills and develop their future professional careers.

The leading coffee brand also designed an advocacy microsite https://www.starbucksforyouthksa.com/ar to streamline the hiring process and share its values as an employer and a consumer brand. The site offers updates, news, and job opportunities, making these digitally accessible to everyone. The average traffic to the site, which also serves as a hub for the company's efforts to further engage the Saudi community, increased to about 2000 visits daily.

Starbucks also collaborates with Saudi Social media influencers to help Saudi youth better understand Starbucks culture and employee profile and encourage Saudi youth to join the company and realize their full potential within the retail industry.

These programs have proved a great success as Starbucks works to achieve a 35% Saudization rate within the next two years.

"We are extremely pleased with what our social agenda has achieved to date," Rana Shaheen, Regional Communications and CSR Manager, Starbucks Middle East, said. "We will continue our extensive efforts to empower young Saudis through training and education and to remain an employer of choice for local youth."

Building on its global expertise and ethics and endeavoring to leave a positive effect on the Saudi society, Starbucks offers an enriching and lively working experience, providing its employees with the tools and skills they need to excel and progress in their careers and continuously engaging them and rewarding them for their efforts and helping them emerge as leaders.

Starbucks employees have inspiring success stories to share. Through social media videos and messages, they affirm that their job is an experience that goes beyond serving a cup of coffee to include building relationships, enhancing personal skills, and creating social change.

"Working for Starbucks was an opportunity for me to gain new experiences and address new challenges," said Hana Al Badr, who joined Starbucks a year ago and is now serving as an area manager with the company. "I love the atmosphere and feel happy serving people and mixing with them." She said the skills she learned at Starbucks would greatly help her in her future career.

Abdullah Al Ghareeb, who holds a BA degree in financial management and an English language certificate from the Canadian College in Vancouver, Canada, said: "I enjoyed the relaxed environment, which helps one develop his skills and promotes passion for work, especially since the work team and my trainer were very helpful." He added: "I am very pleased with and proud of working for a company that nurtures Saudi youths and helps build a brighter future for the Kingdom."

Starbucks advocacy program strongly ties the company to the Saudi society. It understands the society's issues and needs and actively addresses important workforce challenges and perceptions in the country, preparing Saudi youth for the economy and the jobs of tomorrow.

Starbucks is also committed to expanding and investing in the Saudi market. The company now has 195 locations with over 2200 employees, 485 of them Saudis. It plans to open new branches throughout the kingdom, and with the expansion plan, several job opportunities will be created, including outside the major Saudi cities.

"Starbucks is committed to Saudi Vision 2030," Shaheen stressed. "By Investing in Saudi youth education and training and expanding our presence in the Saudi market and supporting the development of the services sector in the kingdom, we act as a partner of the Saudi government towards achieving its transformational objectives, especially with regards to youth employment and empowerment."

This role that Starbucks has played since the launch of its national impact agenda in 2017 helped the leading global coffee company emerge as a respected brand, a responsible partner, and a role model that goes beyond commercial gains to develop and contribute to the community to which it belongs. — SG


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