The Dutch beer giant likes to blow its own horn about the economic and social benefits it brings to Africa, but revelations of sexual harassment and low pay paint a different picture.

By Olivier van Beemen

The first time Heineken astounded me was in early 2011, when I was in Tunisia covering the Jasmine revolution and the fall of President Ben Ali for a Dutch financial 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 realized the scale: 165 breweries in more than 70 countries, including this north African autocracy.