Diana M Trujillo
Universidad de los Andes Colombia
In 2006, Alpina operated in Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, and its products reached 34 countries. With nearly US$ 275 million in annual sales, Alpina was one of the largest private dairy by-product manufacturer in the Andean sub-region. The company’s social initiatives dated back to its early years, as Alpina’s founders and their families, who were involved in company operations, built a workplace atmosphere that prioritized employees’ needs. The company’s growth brought ownership changes; however, by 2006, Alpina was still in the hands of a few Colombian investors. As the company grew, its social initiatives expanded as well. In 2002-2006, Alpina’s HR Management embarked on a number of efforts to better engineer the company’s social responsibility endeavors and to drive their impact. These efforts proved insufficient when, in 2006, once the corporate model was implemented, Alpina’s Executive Committee questioned the company’s social initiatives and their scope.
This case requires students to take the role of Juan Pablo Fernández, who, three years after joining the company, became its Marketing Vice President in 2006. Alpina’s Executive Committee asked Fernández to prepare a plan to enhance the company’s social impact, setting a cap for social investments. The information supplied in the case provides for two possible options. The first one hinged on expanding initiatives underway, which, varying in alignment with Alpina’s core business, were embedded in its value chain. This has been the path chosen by other industry players, as it enabled them to deal with some risks and inefficiencies jeopardizing their performance. The other option involved the creation of Alpina’s Nutritional Foundation, which would prevent any criticism for exploiting the poor’s need for better nutrition. Class participants, placed in Fernández’s shoes, must choose a path and find ways to materialize either option.