By Princewill Ekwujuru
Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited and its bottling partner, Nigeria Bottling Company Limited, NBC in partnership with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, LSETF have empowered 300 women drawn from different communities in Lagos State to start their own small businesses through its women empowerment.
The initiative is NBC and Coca-Cola’s 5by20 Programme which is the company’s global commitment to enable the economic empowerment of five million women entrepreneurs across its value chain by 2020.
The 300 women are the first batch of the 1000 women targeted for the initiative were also provided with Trade Assets including Coolers, Tables, Umbrellas and Coca-Cola beverage products, having completed their training modules on financial literacy and business skills.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony in Lagos, the Executive Secretary of Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, LSETF, Mr. Akintunde Oyebode said the empowerment initiative is in line with the vision of the Lagos State Government to create jobs, wealth opportunities and alleviate poverty among residents in the state.
Oyebode who commended the beneficiaries for their tenacity and determination to improve their lot economically, urged them to judiciously put into use all the skills acquired as well as the resources mobilised for them.
While expressing appreciation to the two partners for their contributions in complementing government’s efforts in the empowerment of women, Oyebode stated that such collaborations would ultimately help to reduce social problems and address the alarming rate of unemployment in Lagos State.
He also called on other private sector partners to join LSETF to create jobs in the state.
Congratulating the beneficiaries on the completion of the training as well as the handing over of the assets, the Managing Director of Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, Mr. Bhupendra Suri, represented by Ms Nwamaka Onyemelukwe, Public Affairs and Communications Manager, advised the women to make the best use of the resources handed over to them by effectively deploying the skills and assets in the running of their businesses profitably and sustainably.
She also reaffirmed the commitment of Coca-Cola Nigeria to empowering Nigerian women through its numerous initiatives, emphasising that the company recognises the socio- economic value that women bring to enterprise development and urged other corporate organisations to consider Women Empowerment as a business imperative.
In his own remarks, Public Affairs and Communication Director, Nigeria Bottling Company Limited, Ekuma Eze represented by Ifeoma Okoye, Public Affairs Manager (Lagos and West) restated the commitment of the company to women empowerment, saying that it would continue to support efforts that enhance shared economic growth.
He said: ”We truly believe supporting women is a key driver to economic development. This explains why we bought into this idea to ensure that while they are empowered, we can begin to see the multiplier effect on the economy.”
One of the beneficiaries, Mrs. Lolade Akingbade who expressed gratitude to all the partners for their support and donation at the handing over ceremony, promised to grow her business to become a big enterprise.
“ We have been equipped with the necessary skills over the last two months and we would deploy these skills in running our businesses,” Akingbade added.