Situated in the lush coffee estates of southern Tanzania, Aviv Tanzania, an ofi company, operates amidst four neighbouring communities.
Employee numbers swell from 300 to 3,500 during peak coffee-picking seasons, and the organisation realises their responsibility to the community villages. “We engage with them in aspects of health, water hygiene and sanitation, education, climate, agriculture and economic opportunities,” explains Bertha Fokas, Stakeholder Engagement Manager at Aviv. As an extension of this, they also recently embarked on a new workforce nutrition programme.
Fokas shares some of their organisation’s experiences with starting and implementing this new initiative.
A focus on health as a foundation for productivity
Fokas says the inception of Aviv’s focus on health came from recognising that employees spend the majority of their time at work, along with the realization that many employees and community members needed support with nutrition education, and to improve their nutritional health status.
“We wanted to ensure workers are fit at work and even at home through taking some initiatives to provide training, medical consultation, testing and treatment. We believe this is important to help workers feel secure and confident at work, and to improve productivity and ownership,” says Fokas.
Joining forces with the Workforce Nutrition Alliance
Aviv’s engagement with the Workforce Nutrition Alliance and participation in the Masterclass1 was a strategic move to support the company with its goals. “Nutrition and health is a major theme to ensure the company attains its goal of thriving communities. These include workers and surrounding communities,” explains Fokas.
“The company’s aim of participating in the Workforce Nutrition Alliance’s Masterclass was to attain the knowledge to improve health and well-being status of employees, their families and surrounding community members.”
Tangible impacts and collaborative successes
In 2023, as they rolled out their programme, tangible successes emerged: around 560 workers received nutrition education, 148 employees underwent health check-ups, and clean drinking water provisions were secured. Notably, 492 women accessed services to support nutrition and breastfeeding, affirming also the company’s commitment to maternal and child health.
It was not always easy to implement, says Fokas, and she was happy that she also enjoyed external support: many activities were possible through partnering with government offices like District Medical Offices (DMO), district nutritionists, and private partners like an NGO who collaborated in the provision of nutrition experts for nutrition education and training and conducting nutrition-related health checks.
Challenges and opportunities
Nutrition education and health checks do however not guarantee healthier employees. According to Fokas, behaviour change remains a significant hurdle, with employees sometimes resistant to adopting healthier dietary practices, such as incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into their meals. “Also, some people fear to undergo treatment or accept the results when they find that their health condition is affected by some lifestyle elements, or if their supposed to do some health follow-ups regularly to improve their health conditions,” explains Fokas.
Financial constraints can also be challenging. “Provision of nutrition checkup services and healthy food at work require an effective budget that has to go through the process within different management levels to be approved,” says advises.
Masterclass resources: A catalyst for program enhancement
Fokas however says the tools and resources provided by the Masterclass played a crucial role in guiding Aviv’s journey toward a more nourished workforce. “They have offered direction in resource allocation, prioritization of implementation steps, collection of employee feedback, and data gathering to enhance workplace nutrition programs,” she says.
Advice for other organisations
If an organisation is looking to launch a workforce nutrition programme, Fokas has three key recommendations: First, to assign dedicated personnel to engage with such initiatives and encourage them to participate in educational opportunities like the Workforce Nutrition Masterclass. Secondly, she suggests forging partnerships with health and nutrition-focused organisations. Finally, she says allocating sufficient resources for program implementation is imperative.
Vision for the future
Looking ahead, Aviv’s has ambitious goals. According to Fokas they would like to ensure universal access to nutrition education and training for all workers; offer increased support for women to continue breastfeeding at work; collaborate with local food vendors and health experts to ensure the provision of healthy food options for workers; and ensure ongoing health service improvements through employee health surveys to assess and respond to their nutritional needs.
As Aviv Tanzania continues to forge a path toward a healthier workforce, its efforts stand as a testament to the belief that investing in employee wellness is an investment in the community’s prosperity and the company’s success.
 The Workforce Nutrition Masterclass is a collaborative initiative of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF). It is designed to support organisations with the planning, development and implementation of workforce nutrition programmes. The curriculum covers Breastfeeding at Work, Healthy food at Work, Nutrition Education and Nutrition-focused Health Checks, in addition to guiding participants in the practical application of such initiatives. During the Masterclass, participants receive various tools and resources to enhance the live virtual training sessions, delivered over 12 weeks. The next one kicks off on 27 March 2024. Enquire or book your spot today.