While Nando’s chicken is touted for its PERi-PERi sauce marination, not many know about the process that goes beyond the preparation of the fiery sauce.
Nando’s has not just created a chain of restaurants worldwide but has touched the lives of many poor farmers by providing them an opportunity to earn additional income from the PERi-PERi (African bird’s eye chili) farming. Each chili plant produces about 300 chilies, which are hand-picked one at a time, before being hand-sorted and naturally dried under the African sun.
Despite building an empire of grilled chicken, Nando’s co-founder Robert Brozin believes that amassing wealth does not guarantee one’s happiness, instead he says what brings happiness is creating an impact on other people’s lives. Nando’s business was built on this premise.
As part of Nando’s commitment to enriching communities and lives around its business, Nando’s started the PERi-PERi farms initiative. From six Mozambican farmers in 2012, Nando’s now works with over 1,400 farmers in 18 growing regions, totalling 494 acres in Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
There are two types of farmers who grow PERi-PERi for Nando’s; ‘out-growers’, who farm their own land, while the second are ‘in-growers’ who use land belonging to regional farming organisations. Both have a Nando’s approved purchase agreement with the farming organisation which offers the farmers security. The farmers are guaranteed a purchase for their crop at a pre-agreed, fair price.
Through this initiative, Nando’s has helped to improve the lives of these PERi-PERi farmers, with better food security, education, healthcare, water, energy and housing conditions.
In a recent media briefing held at the Star Boulevard in Kuala Lumpur, members of the media fraternity were presented with a video clip featuring the lives of PERi-PERi farmers in Mozambique. According to one of the farmers, before PERi-PERi farming was introduced to him and his fellow villagers, they lived in mostly shack-like homes but now for the first time they have been able to build brick-homes and live comfortably. Another said the income from PERi-PERi farming has enabled him to own a small lorry, otherwise a bullock-cart would have been the only mode of transport to ferry his fruits of labour (vegetables) to the market.
Aside from providing villagers with seedlings, Nando’s also provides them with the necessary knowledge on farming techniques to maximise their yield.
“We depend on people in growing our business. It’s people who build a business, not advertising. I believe, by helping people, we help ourselves. At Nando’s we work hand in hand with their PERi-PERi farmers. As our business grows, they grow, too,” Brozin said at the media briefing.
Nando’s community does not stop here. If you diligently look at the interior of each Nando’s outlet, you will notice uniquely crafted paintings adorning the walls. These are the works of young upcoming talent of South Africa, who are provided with canvases by Nando’s. The canvas paintings are then collected from them once a month for a payment.
According to Mac Chung Lynn, Group CEO of Nando’s Malaysia and Singapore, who was also present at the media briefing: “We don’t want a one-time project. Nando’s projects are all on-going. We will constantly be opening new outlets and we need a steady supply of artworks. Providing canvases, in a way, guarantees continued supply of paintings for us and a source of income for the young budding artists of South Africa.”
In Malaysia, Chung Lynn said Nando’s started an art competition for young artists and over the years it has impacted the lives of many artists. She said some of the top young artists came up from the Nando’s art initiative. Every year during the art exhibition top art galleries in Malaysia scouted for the next generation of artists and some of them had even gone to exhibit around the world.
“We have even worked with some of the young designers in furniture design for our outlets. Although we are in the chicken business, Nando’s is about all impacting people’s lives,” she added.