Young adults with autism gain valuable work experience through BMMI and Alosra supermarket
In April 2017, BMMI was the first organisation approached to become a business partner for the launch of the Employment Facilitation Training Service Program (EFTS), conducted in collaboration with the Bahrain Society for Children with Behavioural and Communication Difficulties (BSCBCD).
The EFTS is the first of its kind initiative to take place in the region, and is a result of a collaborative effort between Tamkeen and Project SEARCH, an international consultant with a trademarked and copyrighted programme model. Under the EFTS, 14 trainees who fall under the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) were able to receive valuable workplace training in BMMI’s fully-owned subsidiary, Alosra supermarket.
Following a year of the trainees gaining sustainable skills and knowledge at the supermarket, the programme concluded with a graduation ceremony last month. During the celebration, BSCBD expressed their belief in the importance of such initiatives to help create a more inclusive workforce. “We believe that proper support and a positive and encouraging environment for individuals with disabilities results in productive engagement in society and an opportunity for beneficial inclusion for all those involved,” said BSCBD Secretary General, Dr. Rania Al Khalifa.
Furthermore, Dr. Rania, extended her appreciation to BMMI for being the first business host for the inaugural launch of the EFTS. “BMMI and Alosra have really set the bar high for future partnerships. They leaped at the opportunity to be our first business partner and have took such tremendous care of our trainees. Their support has truly been unshakeable,” she said.
From BMMI’s side, Head of Corporate Communications and Marketing, Yasmin Elisabeth Mohamed, said “we’re extremely honoured to be the first organisation to be approached to support this important initiative. We take inclusivity and diversity very seriously at BMMI. We’re also extremely grateful to the Alosra team for supporting this opportunity with zero hesitation. It has been very encouraging and motivating to see how much the trainees have grown and developed throughout the year, and how supportive our customers have been with them as part of the team,” she said.
The trainees spent a year gaining a multitude of skills in two Alosra stores, Saar and Janabiya, and quickly became some of the team’s favourite employees, stated BMMI General Manager of Food Retailing and Production, Jaffar Al Asfoor, who oversees Alosra supermarket. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the trainees for all their hard work and amazing attitude, and to express my appreciation to the Alosra team for all the effort they put into making sure the students were well supported and primed for success,” he said. “It has been so rewarding to witness the trainees learning skills that empower them, as well as prepare them for future job opportunities at our supermarket and other businesses. Just seeing how beneficial this experience has been, not only for the trainees, but even for us as a business, I would like to strongly encourage other organisations to proactively include supporting inclusivity and diversity initiatives as part of their core strategies.”
The EFTS programme is one of the many initiatives that Alosra is involved in as part of its commitment to the local community. As a wholly Bahraini-owned business, the supermarket has been a long-time supporter of championing causes and programmes that would benefit people throughout the kingdom since the 1980s. Consolidating these efforts, Alosra launched its ‘Think Local’ programme in 2012, becoming the first retailer in Bahrain to formalise its commitment to everything local. Under the programme, many initiatives have taken place, including partnering with Bahraini farmers and producers to sell their products in Alosra’s aisles, partnering with local community organisations and charities and providing internship opportunities to help train local university students at Alosra and BMMI.