Since 2004, Fiat made developing the Árvore da Vida program a priority in the scope of relations with the community. It is an important part of the company’s effort to collaborate with local leaders who are mobilized to build collective opportunities for social development.
The program is aimed at promoting social, cultural and economic development by encouraging the independence and empowerment of people living in the community of Jardim Teresópolis, an area neighboring the plant in the city of Betim (Brazil). This community is home to approximately 30,000 people and, in recent years, has experienced significant improvement in social indicators such as the level of literacy, employment and entrepreneurship. Along with other organizations and the government, the Arvore da Vida Jardim Teresopolis program contributed to this transformation.
From the start, the primary concept behind the program was that the mutual interdependence of business and society implies that both company decisions and social policies follow the principle of shared value generation. To achieve this, any intervention would have to arise from a broader awareness of the real needs of the community. The program first began, in fact, with the execution of an extensive analysis of the region. The study yielded results showing a low rate of education, low family income, high violence rates and a flat social structure. Consequently, the program focused on initiatives such as sports, socio-educational, professional qualification, support for entrepreneurship and community strengthening. Moreover, a development network was formed by local representatives, and a women’s cooperative for production of items with recycled automotive industry material was created.
Engagement with stakeholders and seeking to understand their needs and expectations gradually became a part of an ongoing broader strategic intervention, which involved close collaboration with local institutions and the non-governmental organizations ASVI and CDM.
In nine years of operations, the program achieved major results. Over 20,000 people benefited from it, and €2.5 million were invested solely in 2013. As a result, the community’s own resources and local capital have become the main factor in successful local growth and self-sustaining solutions.
The program also created opportunities for economic well-being; the average income of families increased exponentially from 2004 to 2013. Compared with an increase in the average income of Brazilian families of +41.4%, this value grew to +105.7% for the families participating in the project's activities (source: Polis, 2013).
Impact analysis was conducted in 2004, and was subsequently repeated in 2008, 2011 and 2013, representing an important tool for monitoring the effect of activities as well as serving as a management instrument for the assessment of actions performed and reorientation of the agenda, if needed.
Cooperarvore, the social cooperative formed by women from the community in 2006, recycled more than four tons of material, such as seat belts and automotive fabric, in 2013. Since its creation, the organization has recycled more than 17 tons of material. The average family income of cooperative members increased 227%(1) (increase in monthly withdrawal from the cooperatives from 2007 to 2013). The Cooperative revenues increased 112% from 2006 to 2013.
Conscious that developing a program of this magnitude requires collaboration among leaders in the community, Fiat encourages cross-sector development that welcomes partners such as suppliers, universities and governments into the Arvore da Vida program; to this end, the Fiat Citizenship Network (Rede Fiat de Cidadania) was created, now 57 members strong.
Inspired by its experience creating networks and large-scale sustainability projects tailored to the urban scenario of other Brazilian and Latin American cities, Fiat proposed enlarging the experience developed in the Jardim Teresópolis area to the city of Betim. The creation of Our Betim was inspired by the experience of the Sustainable Cities movement, and the initiative was officially launched in December 2010. Guided by principles such as sustainable development, ethics and participatory democracy, the Our Betim movement is a citizens’ initiative independent from political parties and religious groups, which unites people and social organizations with companies that respect their diversity and independence, on the condition that they are willing to work together to improve the quality of life in the city of Betim. The movement developed a system with the principal social elements of the city (education, health, employment, poverty, literacy, etc.), organized by region. This information is essential to influence public policies in order to promote better and more equitable living conditions for the population.
(1) Increase calculated by the nominal value adjusted by IGP-M (FGV.