“With this first-ever, Hispanic-focus US Greenhouse program, we are going to be really excited to uncover emerging Hispanic food and beverages brands and services that hopefully will allow us to expand the support beyond the restaurants, bodegas, the carnicerías, the taquerias, and small restaurants that we've been supporting over the past couple years, and help these businesses realize the goals, while supporting the Hispanic community, which is ultimately the goal that we're pursuing with these Racial Equality Journey initiatives.”
Providing personalized mentorship to smaller food, beverage companies
Hispanic-owned food and beverage businesses that make or sell consumer goods are encouraged to apply by May 15, 2023. Then in June, PepsiCo will select ten "high-potential brands" to join the Greenhouse Accelerator Program that will receive $20,000 in grant funding and enrollment in a six-month business program.
As part of the program, PepsiCo subject matter experts will also provide these companies with personalized mentorship “linked to [the] specific needs that they have,” which can include R&D support, supply chain strategies, capital management, product design, and digital presence optimization, Escalona said.
This mentorship is also a “win-win opportunity” for the smaller food and beverage companies and PepsiCo, which hopes to take learnings into its business practices.
“[PepsiCo] colleagues are going to learn a lot also about this entrepreneurial mindset, which is something that is so needed in business, especially for large companies," Escalona said. "When you work with these entrepreneurs, you really learn from them as well.”
How to win the Greenhouse Accelerator Program? Be unique, address a societal need
PepsiCo is looking for companies with unique ideas that are “really differentiated,” Escalona said. Though it expects to receive many applicants from food and beverage companies, PepsiCo is also looking for companies that are helping food and beverage brands grow and those “addressing a societal opportunity,” he added.
“We may be getting small companies that are looking at AI-driven menu optimization ... or even, for example, finding ways to reduce waste and [improve] sustainability."
Additionally, PepsiCo is “prioritizing businesses that are ... at least 50% female-owned,” Escalona said. “We want to have as many ... Hispanic-female-owned businesses as possible as part of this program,” he added.
Boosting diversity, inclusion at PepsiCo and in CPG
And this year’s Greenhouse Accelerator Program is the latest effort in PepsiCo’s overall Racial Equality Journey that it launched back in 2020, which includes $50m in investments for its Juntos Crecemos program to support Hispanic-owned restaurants and brands.
As part of the Racial Equality Journey initiative, PepsiCo releases an annual report on how it's promoting diversity within three pillars: people, business, and community, Escalona said. In “each of those areas, [PepsiCo is] making great progress,” he noted.
For instance, one of PepsiCo’s goals was to “increase our Hispanic managerial population to about 10% of the workforce and adding at least 50 Hispanic associates to our executive level ranks by 2025,” Escalona said. In the second quarter of 2022, PepsiCo was “already at 9.6%," which is "getting very close to that 10% goal,” he added.
PepsiCo is also leaning on its employee resources groups (ERGs) to create a more diverse company internally and externally, Escalona said.
“Another area that we're very proud of ... is leveraging our ERG, or employee resource groups, which are a cornerstone of our diversity programs because they really help bring that diversity, and they challenge us. They challenge us in terms of helping us think more inclusively, helping us ... bring innovation in the way we're operating.”