Empowering entrepreneurs the Coca-Cola way

As part of efforts to help youth and women fulfil their potentials, particularly in the competitive world of business, The Coca-Cola Foundation has set out to empower 60,000 people in Nigeria with modern entrepreneurial skills with a good number of them also getting grants.

At the hybrid closing ceremony for the Kano leg of the event recently, Nwamaka Onyemelukwe, Director, Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability, Coca-Cola Nigeria, disclosed that the ‘Equip 60,000’, as the initiative is themed, would see the training and empowerment of several youths and women across the country as part of the company’s commitment to youth and women entrepreneurship under its new Africa sustainability platform termed JAMII.

At the presentation, Governor of Kano State, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje commended The Coca-Cola System for the initiative and charged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the grants. He called on other thriving businesses to take an example from Coca-Cola.
Dr. Ganduje was represented at the event by his Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Hon Kabiru Lakwaya, said, “We have done a lot in the area of youth and women empowerment, since the inception of our administration, yet we value the support of corporate bodies in that dimension.”

Onyemelukwe explained that, “We are in partnership with the Whitefield Foundation to empower the youth and women across Nigeria with practical money-making skills and to ensure that the program touches as many lives as possible, we have set out with 72 carefully identified skills which we have been delivering to participants both physically and virtually across the 36 states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja since December 2021.”

In addition to knowledge empowerment, The Coca-Cola Foundation had also been offering business grants to those who distinguish themselves during the training. The grants come in three categories of gold, silver and bronze.

“We are pleased to equip Nigerian women and youths with entrepreneurial skills and startup or booster grants to those who distinguished themselves during the training in the hope that they will impact their individual lives, immediate families, business associates and the community,” Onyemelukwe added.

Ekuma Eze, Director Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC), pointed out that the initiative is for empowering youths and women as part of efforts to help these important segments fulfil their potentials and impact on the society more positively.

Funmi Johnson, Chief Executive, Whitefield Foundation, expressed delight at partnering with The Coca-Cola Foundation on this initiative, which she described as a unique opportunity of transforming lives with both the training and business grants.

She commended the quality of the training and the transparency of the process of selecting the grant winners, and encouraged them to “take advantage of today’s ceremony to network and sign-up mentorships which would aid the sustenance of the program”.

“With the backing of The Coca-Cola Foundation, we will keep deepening this initiative across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to empower youths and women with money making skills with the conviction that empowering these sensitive segments would have a multiplier effect on alleviating poverty levels of the larger society,” Johnson added.

She commended the zeal demonstrated by the Kano citizens, which saw over 18,000 people participate with 9,800 of them making it to the second stage of the program, out of which 2,212 were lucky to merit the grants.

“The enthusiasm shown by people in Kano towards the ‘Equip 60,000’ has been tremendous. At both virtual and physical training sessions, the willingness of the participants has been heart-warming. At a point, we had participants from all the 44 local governments in Kano State, which is unprecedented,” she noted.

She enjoined the beneficiaries to strive to make the most of the opportunities and commended the support of the district heads of the various communities in making the initiative very successful in Kano.

The huge acceptance of the program has seen it reach 74,204 people, 1,000 of whom had already been awarded grants by the sponsors.

The empowerment training is structured in four levels including, employability and entrepreneurship skills, practical money making vocational skills in areas like web design, graphics design, snacks, cocktails, cocktails, make up, event planning and decoration; and domestic household essentials like hand sanitizers, multipurpose soaps; and agribusiness value chain.

Other dignitaries who graced the occasion include Dr. Zahara’u Umar, Hon Commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Development,Kano State, and Alh. Kabiru Sa’idu Magami Permanent Secretary Ministry of Youths and Sports Development.


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