Colombia: Discounter D1 in harmony with sustainability and social development

Discount Retail Chain Tiendas D1 (owned by KOBA) is consolidating corporate social responsibility projects that benefit labor inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities and social incentives. to achieve greater sustainability of ecosystems in the department of Chocó. Through strategic alliances with entities and foundations, such as Sena and the Best Buddies Colombia Foundation,

César Benavides Sánchez, Vice President of Operations for Tiendas D1, told the columbian newspaper El Espectador that “the company in Colombia cannot be left alone in supply processes or limiting itself to the services they provide. There must be the intention to see beyond the corporate objectives to think of a country that has complex and specific needs, which are always hand in hand with a natural environment that must be cared for in the logic of production and industrialization”.

Key to this, Tiendas D1 has managed for more than five years a set of strategic alliances to promote the company in terms of social and labor inclusion of different people from vulnerable populations, for the sake of their individual and collective well-being, in the one that their contributions to the country are the most valuable input.

At the sustainability level, there is the "Chocó Labor Link" project, which arose from an agreement of wills with the National Learning Service (Sena) in the Quibdó region and with the support of the 15th brigade of the National Army, in which they have provided opportunities to more than 90 students to successfully complete their academic stage, increasing their quality of life and that of their families, keeping them away from criminal groups and offering them opportunities for direct employability, guaranteeing sustainable life projects in favor of themselves and the ecosystems in danger of extinction that surround them. And on the social side, with the inclusion at different levels of the population with intellectual disabilities, in connection with the Best Buddies Colombia Foundation and its “Amigos del alma” program, with which they seek to provide inclusive, dignified and stable employment opportunities to people. with different living conditions due to a disability. Today more than 50 friends of the soul are part of the D1 Stores team.

Labor bonding in Chocó: a respite for nature Víctor Enrique Córdoba is an ecological agricultural technologist from the Seine. His concern for the environmental situation in his native Quibdó prompted him to dedicate himself to the profession of caring for ecosystems and generating actions that would impact his community so that from daily acts they would do the same.

It is one of the dozens of young people who are part of the project "Labor Link Chocó", in which Tiendas D1 and the National Army have intervened in their education so that their practices as a technologist use them in favor of endangered trees in the Chocoana capital and its surroundings.

“Within the framework of this alliance, we have developed offices for the conservation of native tree species in the region, which are in the process of extinction. Trees such as guayacán or mahogany are in environments or areas degraded by mining, and with the rapid passage of that sector, your hopes are low. Added to that is their indiscriminate logging, a matter for which we act and appropriate our resources… because if we don't do it, who will? ”Said Córdoba.

The technologist has also been concerned about why for so many generations his department has been marginalized from so many social and economic projects headed by the Colombian State. In fact, he commented to this newspaper that the access roads in precarious conditions that connect Quibdó with the nearby municipalities in which they intervene have not allowed a full development of their capacities.

However, he added that “despite the difficulties we have been able to promote environmental care within our communities, and with the possibilities that D1 and Koba have given us we have been able to adapt to a way of life in which the fundamental be the care of our environment. It would be good if more private companies consolidate these support initiatives to train more and more people around something that concerns us all: the future and the health of the planet”.

In the same battalion facilities, according to the testimony of Víctor Córdoba, they have had the option of generating alternative agricultural activities that allow self-sustainability and local development. There they started a home garden, in which they grow bananas, yucca and tomatoes, foods that they later consume or distribute within their neighborhoods. “Thanks to this agreement, everything has been articulated. When we preserve trees we have the peace of mind that we also encourage responsible crops that benefit us all. And although some days we do not realize it, with these actions, sometimes small and sometimes not so much, we are changing environments and the face of Chocó ”, concluded Córdoba.

Friends who work with the soul Best Buddies Colombia and Tiendas D1 joined their paths in 2016. Since that year, the possibility of labor inclusion of the "Friends of the soul", people with intellectual diversity who are part of this foundation, in the establishments of the chain became real and more and more they build better realities for their processes.

Alejandra Arenas, director of Best Buddies Colombia, took stock of said alliance, in which she highlighted that “Koba is one of the largest employers of people with an intellectual disability. They have helped in all stages and the results in quality are seen in abundance. With this strategy we go from raising a profile of the position, we adjust it to the disability, we sensitize before its entry and later we leave all the conditions so that the friend of the soul enters the company”.

In addition to promoting this experience with Tiendas D1, Best Buddies Colombia also has a close relationship with the Sena, through which more than 750 young people with an intellectual disability have been trained there as packing assistants, in areas related to logistics and service. in supply chains. This knowledge has been put into practice in the D1 and their trainings have taken place in the main cities of the country.

“Tiendas D1 has also provided us since 2017 with the financing of our foundation's own calendars, whose funds are used to continue promoting friends of the soul. They are on all fronts of action and with these actions they have set great precedents for dignified treatment, as it cannot be otherwise, towards this population, ”said Alejandra Arenas. Although the alliance between D1 and Best Buddies is advancing by giant steps, for Arenas this is not enough and he invited government decisions to promote and respect more this type of action in favor of people who want to make invisible in policy matters.

“Although the interdiction of people with disabilities was abolished, the State has not been the guarantor of many other situations in front of them. They are made invisible by Law 361 of 1997 and we still regret to see that there are unfortunate barriers to labor inclusion. We see incentives that are far from the reality of the companies and without clues of actions that can be landed so that people with intellectual disabilities in Colombia dignify themselves and we understand that diversity is something in which we must all get involved”, he stated.


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