Interview of Samir Menon, MD of KFC India CSR initiative addHOPE


By Rusen Kumar

We are pleased to present an interview of Samir Menon, Managing Director, KFC India, on addHope – KFC’s CSR initiative to diminish hunger in the country. addHOPE is an intervention on fighting child hunger, which launched in 2016 with aim to create awareness about the issue of child hunger and raise funds to provide meals to children. KFC aims to provide 20 million meals to underprivileged children by 2020. Excerpts and interview:

What is the addHope campaign about? Why was it initiated in the first place?

We at KFC have believed in giving back to the communities in which we work and live, wanting to make a positive difference in the lives of those in need. Being a food company it’s our privilege and responsibility to address the issue of hunger. addHOPE is our way of fighting child hunger. With this thought, addHOPE was launched in 2016 with aim to create awareness about the issue of child hunger and raise funds to provide meals to underprivileged children through the support of our consumers and partners. Together along with our partners, KFC aims to provide 20 million meals to underprivileged children by 2020. And we are very proud to share that we have provided 7 million meals till date; feeding about 15000 children every day.

What was the main idea behind addHope?

AddHope was created as a platform to tackle a big, complex problem head on by raising awareness about hunger as we understand the difference a meal can make to a child’s development and wellbeing.

How does addHope work? How many hunger drives have you already done?

We launched addHope in May 2016 and this year marks the 2nd anniversary of the addHope program. Our giant network of 350 restaurants across the country is used to create awareness about addHope and raise funds to provide meals through this program. To support this cause, consumers can feed a hungry child and make a difference by just adding Rs 5 to their bill whenever they visit any KFC restaurant or order online. This customer contribution is augmented by KFC India’s contribution – for the last two years,  every October, which is a peak month for us, we have contributed from the sale of every bucket, towards addhope.

100% of the funds collected through all this go to the beneficiaries – underprivileged children across the country through the support of our credible partners. So far we have successfully implemented drives across 20 cities, including Kolkata, Chandigarh, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Guwahati amongst others.

Out there in the world there are so many problems like poverty, unemployment and much more. How and why did KFC choose an anti-hunger cause over any other?

As a brand that operates in the F&B industry, it’s our privilege and responsibility to address the issue of child hunger where millions of children go days without a proper meal. Realizing that 1 in 4 children in India is malnourished and consequently facing greater obstacles in reaching their fullest potential, we decided to do something about it, and hence was launched the addHope program. With this initiative we want the children of our country to be given access to nutritious and balanced meals.

Which all NGOs have you partnered with to drive the addHope initiative in India? What was the criteria for choosing the NGO partner?

We are supported by our credible partners like the Responsenet, Smile foundation and India FoodBanking Network (IFBN) in our mission against child hunger. Our criteria for selecting these NGOs and partners is to see that they share a similar sensibility and are as determined as we are to help fight hunger.

KFC recently conducted a campaign called Meal of Hope which was to mark the 2-year anniversary of addHope in India. How did this campaign work out for you?

Our latest campaign #MealofHope was a huge success. It was conducted to create awareness about the program and encourage consumer participation. To mark the second anniversary of addHope, we engaged with our consumers through an interesting digital campaign. As the name suggests, consumers were invited to share a meal of hope – a plate filled with food emojis on social media. For every plate that was shared by consumers online, KFC India pledged to provide a meal to a hungry child. The campaign gained popularity and helped us directly engage with more than 10,000 consumers in a short period of 3 days, provided meals worth INR 50,000 to underprivileged children.

Why is KFC determined on consumer participation/contribution? Is it only to increase the funds which can be used or is it to make the consumers feel a part of the company?

At KFC we believe in the collective power of the human spirit – the idea is not to just raise awareness but also provide platforms and opportunities for consumers to be able to make a meaningful difference. We feel engaging customers in the right way can help them understand the problem of hunger better and also let them be a part of the solution through the addHope campaign. The idea behind consumer engagement is to raise greater awareness for the cause, encourage consumer participation and generate maximum funds.

Is addHope part of the 2% CSR all companies do? Had CSR not been a compulsion would KFC be conducting this campaign?

Yum! Brands’ commitment to community development far exceeds the government’s mandate for corporate social responsibility initiatives. We have been working on hunger relief in India even when there was no CSR mandate. Focusing on addHope is KFC India’s endeavor to create a sustainable and meaningful impact on the communities that we operate in.

KFC has explicitly expressed its short-term goal of providing 20 million meals to underprivileged children by 2020. What is the long-term goal for addHope or does KFC plan to finish its campaign by 2020 and take up on a new initiative?

At present the goal of the addHope program is to provide 20 million meals to underprivileged children by 2020. The long term objective would be to eradicate the problem of child hunger. We will decide next steps for the program upon successful completion of the initial goal of 20 million meals by 2020.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the interviewee in this feature are entirely his own and does not necessarily reflect the views of India CSR Network and its Editor.

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