Our Inclusive Business activities are another aspect of our sustainability management. This business model focuses specifically on unmet needs of communities in underserved markets. Our collaborative approach offers scalable solutions to reach as many people as possible in these markets. We collaborate with our customers as well as governmental and nongovernmental organizations to develop affordable solutions based on our technologies and products to benefit underserved communities and regions by improving living conditions. Our employees concentrate on three regions – the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Eastern and Southern Africa – with the main goal of implementing innovative solutions in the fields of food security, drinking water management, and biosolids management.
In terms of food security, one of the areas we are actively engaged in is to fight against post-harvest losses, which are all losses that occur after the harvest (e.g., as a result of improper storage). They are an economic challenge particularly for smallholding farms. Solar greenhouse dryers and cold storage, which are developed with industry partners within Inclusive Business, contribute substantially toward improving the financial situation of these farms by reducing post-harvest losses. In addition, these innovative solutions help develop new sales markets – for instance, in Ethiopia or Tanzania – for Covestro. We define drinking water management as the use of solar-powered water treatment plants that are able to turn any source of water into drinking water. Biosolids management is another key action area. Biosolids are defined as human feces processed in drying facilities, which can then be used as organic fertilizer in agriculture. The solar drier technology used in our work on food security is also deployed in this process.
OUR INCLUSIVE BUSINESS GOAL
2021: 3.2 million people
2020: 1.1 million people
We want 10 million people in underserved markets to benefit from our solutions by the year 2025. The goal is to improve their standard of living primarily through affordable housing, sanitation, and food security.
We want our solutions to improve the lives of 10 million people in underserved markets by the year 2025. Covestro defines this figure by including people who potentially benefit from our activities as part of their work or daily life. These individuals include people working on smallholdings and their families, school children, and other people who are positively impacted by completion of our projects or installation of our solutions.
Participating governmental and nongovernmental organizations helped us collect the data. The data collected as part of a defined process is reviewed at local and global level, and the processes are continuously refined. In fiscal 2021, the methodology for calculating the number of people reached was optimized. Instead of calculating the number of persons reached once, immediately after implementing our Inclusive Business solutions, we have since the year 2021 determined the cumulative number of all people reached over the years since the solution was installed. Covestro’s Board of Management is informed annually about these global activities.
By the end of the reporting year, we reached 5.6 million people with inclusive business solutions (previous year: 3.2 million people). This trend is attributable to the year-on-year rise in the number of new drying facilities installed in the area of biosolids management.
In the year 2022, we once again concentrated on collaboratively developing new, affordable solutions with partners who passed a due diligence review in advance. These solutions are financed by governmental and nongovernmental organizations. Our work in consortia – always preceded by our standard due diligence process for new partners – also ensures that the relevant segments of the population profit from the jointly developed end products.
In the Indian Subcontinent, our Inclusive Business activities concentrated on biosolids management in the reporting year. Under the Clean India Mission, an initiative of the Indian government, we installed 11 solar dryers for treating human feces in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka. Studies undertaken jointly with the Consortium for DEWATS Dissemination (CDD) Society, a nongovernmental organization based in Bangalore (India), on the drying kinetics of feces and with Tamil Nadu Agricultural University on processing biosolids and their subsequent use as an organic fertilizer made it possible to harness the food cycle holistically – from production to the reuse of human biosolids. At the same time, this is an important step in the fight against rapidly increasing water pollution with human feces. A joint study planned with the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) is intended to capture the data required from biosolids processing. This data is intended to assist in drafting statutory regulations on biosolids treatment. For its work on the safe treatment of human feces, ASCI also honored Covestro with the WASH Stewardship Award.
We continued our food security activities with increased intensity, including the establishment of a new digital platform. Once the platform has gone live, which is planned for the second quarter of 2023, it will provide information on innovation, potential partnerships, financing opportunities, and agricultural products. The platform is intended to enable all people involved in the post-harvest value chain to support Indian farms in optimizing food security efforts.
As part of our partnership with CEPT University in Gujarat (India), Covestro installed a solar dryer in Satara, Maharashtra (India) for the treatment of biosolids. Another partnership with the state government of Telangana led to the installation of further drying equipment in the cities of Nizamabad and Nirmal.
Our Inclusive Business activities continued in Southeast Asia as follows in the reporting year: Specifically, our initiative in Vietnam launched in previous years under the GREAT program by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade remained active. With the help of the Vietnamese government, five more solar dryers were installed in Son La province in the reporting year. By the end of the year 2022, the program had benefited more than 2,500 people, mainly women from Thai minorities in northwest Vietnam.
Covestro is engaged in promoting food security projects in the region, for instance by giving support to our partners in securing financing. The project finance granted by the Agri Innovation Fund of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Bonn (Germany), to our project partners in Cambodia, and Vietnam in the previous year was used successfully for the installation of solar dryers. The use of solar dryers in coffee cultivation in the Vietnamese province of Son La reduced drying times for coffee beans while enhancing drying efficiency.
Eastern and Southern Africa
As in the previous year, the main focus in Africa was on food security in 2022. In the reporting year, we were able to continue our partnership with Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria (South Africa). The students at the university are working on various research projects that use solar greenhouse dryers with a focus on alternative methods for drying traditional African fruits. Furthermore, our collaboration with Community Forest International and the installation of the solar dryer system financed by the European Union in Mtambwe Dayaauf (Tanzania) also continued. Following the successful commissioning of the dryer supplied, two additional dryers were delivered in the reporting year, whose use is intended to benefit other local spice growers and their families. The planned installation is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2023. As announced in the Group Management Report 2021, the agreement with GIZ under the BMZ’s develoPPP program was signed in the year 2022 and its operational implementation started as contractually agreed. After initial drying units are successfully deployed in various regions of Ethiopia, this program will support craft-based businesses with technology transfer so that they can manufacture dryers themselves. The first six dryers have already been imported into Ethiopia. Once they have been installed and commissioned as planned in the first quarter of 2023, the use of imported facilities will not just be for demonstration purposes: It is intended to help coffee growers demonstrably improve their harvest by increasing the quality of the coffee beans. Training of the local population in production and use of the facilities are part of the project.