Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc. (BAVI) President Ronald Mascariñas discussed the company’s employment brand during the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP) Annual Conference, July 29.
PMAP is the premier association of human resource and people managers in the Philippines, with over 2,500 member organizations.
Below is the full text of his presentation.
A pleasant day to all the members and stakeholders of the People Management Association of the Philippines, as well as everyone joining us from across the country.
It is an honor for me to share Bounty Agro Ventures Incorporated’s Employment Brand.
From the beginning, we at BAVI defined our bigger Purpose—to inspire “Puso Para Sa Pinas” within our ranks and to everyone we encounter in the communities that we serve. The line “Puso Para Sa Pinas” is more than just a hashtag for us. It is an expression of our love of country. We strongly believe that love of country is important in building a strong country. It is that love that compels us to champion the talents and skills of the Filipino athlete. It is the same love that is the firm foundation of our employment brand and identity as a company.
Before I delve into the details of creating and strengthening our Purpose-driven employment brand, let me share with you our story, which is the premise of all that we do now.
In our 24-year history, we have always turned challenges into opportunities. From operating with a handful of small contract farms in Cebu and Davao as an upstart company in 1997, BAVI is now a nationwide enterprise.
When I joined the company in 2002, my management team initiated the development of business operations outside Metro Manila with entrepreneurs in provincial Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. We chose to partner with hundreds of small poultry farmers, feed millers, hatcheries, dressing plants and truckers. This opened up business opportunities to local entrepreneurs in the countryside, making them part of a business that is nationwide in scope.
Except for one farm in Cebu, we do not own any other production facility across the country. All production facilities and trucks costing billions of pesos are investments by local entrepreneurs. We created partnerships with farms all the way to processing facilities and provided technical expertise and supervision to ensure a highly efficient supply chain in poultry integration.
But it was never always smooth sailing.
When the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement was about to be rolled out in the mid 2000’s, we realized that cheaper imported chicken from our ASEAN neighbors could flood our market. We believed then that we were in a sunset industry, and that if we did not make ourselves viable, we would need to walk out from the poultry integration quickly, rather than risk losing whatever financial capital we’ve built over the years.
The AFTA scare forced us to radically innovate, which gave birth to Chooks-to-Go selling oven-roasted chicken. We figured that if we are forced out of the poultry integration, we can import dressed chicken and sell it as roasted chicken in our own stores at significantly higher margins. We calculated that we needed about a thousand stores selling roasted chicken to generate the same income stream from our poultry integration and to preserve the livelihood of our existing employees.
This proved to be a game-changer for BAVI as Chooks-to-Go quickly evolved to become our flagship brand and our most reliable cash cow. Today, our retail stores have grown close to 2,000 and have provided employment opportunities to over 5,000 workers across the country. We are now the dominant market leader in the roasted chicken market. Even if we add up the businesses of the #2 to # 10 competitors, Chooks-to-Go is still bigger than all of them combined.
And we were able to keep our traditional Bounty Fresh poultry integration which has likewise grown many times over pre-AFTA volumes.
We are now on our 24th year. What was constant in all those years of challenges and successes was our love of country. This is manifested by two organizational hallmarks: People Orientation and Community Orientation.
Heart for our People
First, in People Orientation, we strive to nurture a HEART FOR OUR PEOPLE.
We look after our employees’ professional and personal development. We believe that our growth rate depends on the development rate of our people. We see them as people with unique talents and not as productivity machines.
To nurture that, we set up BAVI Academy—our in-house learning institution with third party Subject matter experts and consultants readily accessible for the professional development of our people. This has morphed into a virtual training academy during this pandemic.
We have 12 Toastmasters clubs all over the country, which is our main engine for the development of our people’s communication and leadership skills. To date, BAVI has the most number of Toastmasters in the Philippines.
We also have a Leadership Coaching Program, which equips our people with the organizational and interpersonal skills to become better leaders and people managers. We trained a dozen full time leadership partners for six months to roll out the program. This fosters a culture of coaching and mentoring in our organization.
It is in this atmosphere of psychological safety and openness that accelerates the development of our supervising front-liners.
We take good care of our chicken, but we take even better care of our people.Ronald Mascariñas
Our Top-To-Bottom Monthly Incentive Program is a robust incentive system, which covers 100% of employees from utility men and production personnel all the way up to executives. This productivity based incentive program allows any employee to earn more than their regular monthly pay, enabling them to gain a degree of control on their compensation and personal development.
Calamities in different forms affect our workforce year in and year out. Typhoons, floods, fires and earthquakes can severely damage or even wipe out the houses of our people. Diseases requiring major operations or continuous hospitalizations for employees and their family members are catastrophic for them. Add to the fact that a married employee’s parents and siblings are not classified as dependents by Healthcare Insurance companies. Thus, employees turn to loan sharks for immediate relief resulting in a lifetime of misery paying off debt with high interest. But in Filipino culture, we cannot turn a blind eye on our distressed parents. The biggest irony is that the low income employees that need Healthcare coverage for dependents the most are the group that can least afford the premium to cover their dependents.
As a response, we created the SAGIP Fund from employee incentives. Through this fund, we were able to cover all natural calamities that damaged the houses of our employees especially during typhoon Yolanda. We have also supported the treatment of diseases sometimes costing a million more beyond what is covered by Healthcare Insurance and irrespective of the definition of dependent.
However, we recognize that there is a lot more to learn on more effective people management practices across the globe. That is why we engage the likes of Investors in People—a global network of people management experts to guide us in our continuous improvement of our people management practices.
We are currently an IIP Gold Accredited company, and we are working on attaining Platinum, which is the highest IIP accreditation level. But of course, whether we achieve Platinum or not is less important than the journey itself of trying to make progress in our practices.
We take good care of our chicken, but we take even better care of our people.
Heart for the People
Our second hallmark is Community Orientation, where the focus is on HEART FOR THE PEOPLE.
Our social responsibility activities mirror our Purpose of having Puso Para Sa Pinas.
In Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas, we ignite national pride through sports by showcasing Filipino athletes on the world stage. We were at the forefront of leading the country in the first-ever FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament while also building towards making it to the 2024 Paris Olympics.
In the traditional five-on-five basketball, we united the regional leagues such as the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, the National Basketball League, and the Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup. Together with all three regional leagues, including Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3, we will usher a brighter future for the Filipino basketball player.
Truly, through this program, we unite Filipinos to support our national athletes and to take pride in their Filipino identity.
Our Chooks-to-Go Reseller Program was created primarily to provide livelihood opportunities to displaced workers. With a very small capital, families can start their own businesses from the safety of their homes. We provide them hefty discounts, so they can price competitively to end-users.
To date, our Resellers have completely replaced our traditional Trade Distributors and is the most profitable trade channel next to Chooks-to-Go. We now have over 15,000 registered Resellers across the country, and that number continues to grow.
Truly, through [Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas], we unite Filipinos to support our national athletes and to take pride in their Filipino identity.Ronald Mascariñas
We’ve partnered with the Ayala Foundation, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and DepEd in the Maging Magiting Flag Campaign. It aims to promote love of country by handing out flags to thousands of schools and police precincts across the country. To date, over 11,000 flags have been given from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi.
We will continue to support this campaign led by Ayala Foundation because we recognize that there is no emblem that can represent our Filipino identity better than the Philippine National Flag.
We’ve also partnered with Special Olympics Philippines to promote the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities—such as those with Down Syndrome and Autism.
Called the “Kaya Yan Manok ng Bayan” campaign, we provide employment and sports training opportunities to Special Olympics athletes. Unilab Foundation is our partner in this initiative as well. We truly admire their work in training and preparing people with disabilities for gainful employment.
We hope to increase hiring of PWDs in the years to come.
We believe that attaining peace does not come without risks and that its rewards go beyond economics.Ronald Mascariñas
We’ve also opened business and livelihood opportunities to rebel returnees in the conflict areas of Basilan and Sulu. We are the only company operating in those areas.
Due to this, our cost of production in those areas are significantly higher, but we are committed to continuing this initiative as our contribution to peace in Muslim Mindanao. We believe that attaining peace does not come without risks and that its rewards go beyond economics. Beyond growing our business, our dream is to help Sulu and Basilan win the peace by gaining for itself a real stake in development. We share their aspirations for economic independence along with the rest of marginalized areas in the country.
And last, but definitely one of our most important CSR activities, is providing food to people affected by various disasters – from typhoons, floods, fires, volcanic eruptions to earthquakes, and now the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March 2020, we have fed over half a million people.
All these activities were carried out by our volunteer employees and I am truly proud of all of them.
Our PusoParaSaPinas employment brand saved our business at the height of the pandemic last year. In an unprecedented show of solidarity, our employees from administration, HR, finance, all the way to managers and executives, volunteered to help in our rolling store operations, to bring our products to communities on lockdown.
While most companies froze and played it safe during the early months of the pandemic, all our employees were out on the streets every day Monday to Sunday, including holidays, to peddle our chicken to communities affected by the lockdown.
I knew it was needed to survive the crisis, but I could not, in conscience, demand that from my people because of the risk to their lives. I never imagined that our employees would volunteer to keep the business afloat.
And thank God we did it without a single casualty nor hospitalization. From that, a stronger business emerged.
Fast forward to May 2021—we’ve achieved our full year 2021 financial target seven months in advance, making 2021 another banner year for our company with record revenues and bottom line. The crisis brought about by the pandemic forced us to pivot and in the process discover better ways of running the business.
At the center of all our achievements past and present are our biggest asset—OUR PEOPLE. Ang aking mga kasamahan na totoong nagmamalasakit sa kumpanya at tunay na nagmamahal sa ating Bayan.
This is our employment brand — Puso Para Sa Pinas.