What is the scale of Starbucks' operations in Saudi Arabia today?
Since our entry into the market in 2000, Starbucks has grown rapidly and has become the market leader in coffee. We have introduced a new culture of coffee to Saudi youths. Today, we have over 140 stores in locations across the country, of which 50 are located in shopping malls, 63 are spread across the city's prime locations, 10 are exclusive drive-through outlets, five are set within hospitals, eight are in the most popular travel destinations, and four are located in well-known educational institutions. Our growth is accelerating, powered by the strong support of Alshaya International Trading and the demand from young Saudis for great coffee in a welcoming environment.
What does it mean for a company to have a 'social impact agenda?
For more than 40 years, Starbucks has built its business with a social conscience and proven that doing what is right makes great business sense. We were one of the first major companies to introduce Café Practices, which ensures that Starbucks sources sustainably grown and processed coffee by evaluating the economic, social, and environmental impact of coffee production. We have extended this approach into our neighborhoods, stores, and partner relationships, sharing a responsibility to give back to the communities we work with and serve.
How does Starbucks' social impact agenda play out in Saudi Arabia today?
Saudi Arabia is undergoing a fundamental transformation in its social and economic structure. More than 60% of the population is under 30, and the jobs and economy of tomorrow will be substantially different from what we see today. Vision 2030 and the NTP2020 are deeply rooted in this transformation. Starbucks has identified key areas where our own agenda aligns with the long-term plans of the Kingdom. Achieving the ambitious goals laid out in the Vision 2030 will require widespread collaboration in workforce entry education, service sector training, basic leadership and management skills, as well as changing the mindset regarding service sector employment.
Vision 2030 strives for localization and the creation of meaningful employment for Saudis. Could you tell us more about your initiatives in this regard?
Fundamentally, our brand and our social impact agenda are inseparable. When we say we must hire over 400 Saudi youths in the coming period and transform the face of our business, this is not just about social impact—it is business critical. The economy of tomorrow will be powered by the service sector, and if we are to be a part of it, we need to start now by empowering youth through employment, training, and career-oriented growth. By 2020, Starbucks aims to localize 35% of our workforce and accelerate training of Saudi partners at all levels. Our success will be measured not simply in the cups of coffee we pour, but in the areas of hiring and retention, when we show our partners a path toward a career, or in the ways that we recognize and reward young partners for their contribution. We are training and preparing Saudi youth for the economy and the jobs of tomorrow. This is a great challenge and responsibility.
What are some examples of the programs that you are working on currently?
Starbucks is excited to take up the challenge of youth employment and make it a core part of our business mission. We have launched a number of programs aimed at youth in Saudi Arabia, each focused on accelerating workforce training, empowering the youth to take leadership roles in the service industry, and transforming the way they enter their first jobs out of university or high school. These include our quarterly Opportunity Café program, which is designed to teach employable soft skills to interested youth. In the coming months, programs with Education for Employment (EFE), some major national universities, and a social media campaign and microsite will all come together to offer Saudi youth a new vision for employment and opportunity in a new and opening Saudi economy. The best outcome for us will be more Saudi youth recognizing service jobs as real training opportunities, stepping stones, and paths toward long-term career fulfillment.
What is your vision on women empowerment and enabling greater participation in the workplace for them in Starbucks Saudi Arabia?
Wherever we are in the world, Starbucks is committed to fostering a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming work environment. In Saudi Arabia today, that also means women; in fact, they are among some of our most enthusiastic training participants and committed Saudi workforce. Starbucks currently operates seven stores across Saudi Arabia—four in PNU and one each in Riyadh Office, Business Gate, and the British School in Riyadh—that are operated by immensely talented female partners developed through both the Starbucks and Al Shaya Retail Academies. Meaningful employment is a powerful tool for women to become partners in the economy and society, and we are delighted with the progress of our current initiatives.