Heineken claims its business helps Africa. Is that too good to be true? | News


The first time Heineken amazed me was in Tunisia, in early 2011, when I was covering the Jasmine revolution and the fall of President Ben Ali for a Dutch business newspaper. During my reporting, I discovered that Heineken maintained close ties with the kleptocratic family clan that had ruled Tunisia for almost 25 years. It was not just the relationship itself that had me stunned – it was the fact that Heineken was brewing beer there at all. I knew the company was doing business all over the world, and I had some vague notion that it would have breweries outside the Netherlands, but I had never realised the scale: 165 breweries in more than 70 countries, including this north African autocracy.

The following year, I decided to begin work on a book about Heineken’s operations in Africa. When…

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