As part of continued efforts to upskill and empower women across underserved communities in Nigeria, Coca-Cola’s women empowerment programme tagged “Catalyst for Change 2.0” has recorded the graduation of 1000 women in Alausa, Ikeja.
The closing ceremony, which took place at the St. Peter Anglican Church on November 4, 2021, in the Alausa community, marked the conclusion of a four-week intensive skills acquisition training in October.
Throughout the four-week programme, 1000 women enrolled in vocational skills such as baking, textile design, production of household cleaning items, wig-making, make-up artistry, bag-making, shoemaking, and more. The women were also enrolled in business classes to ensure their financial literacy. Additionally, 200 out of the 1,000 women who had proved exceptional, were each provided with start-up kits to help kick-start their businesses.
Launched in August 2020 by local NGO, Karis and Eleos Hand of Hope Foundation, through a grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation, the “Catalyst for Change” programme is part of Coca-Cola’s vision to ensure the economic empowerment of women and youth in Nigeria. The first edition of the programme, launched last year, sought to ensure economic recovery during the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following its success, a second edition was supported by The Coca-Cola Foundation in October 2021 and is being implemented through the Coca-Cola system in Nigeria which comprises Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited and its bottling partner, Nigerian Bottling Company.
This second edition of the programme has been developed to reduce the rate of rural-urban migration caused by a lack of access to opportunities in vulnerable communities. So far, the programme, in its entirety, has seen the economic empowerment of a total of 6,000 women and youths across several underserved communities in Nigeria.
In her opening remarks at the ceremony, the Founder/Executive Director of the Karis and Eleos Hand of Hope Foundation, Bukola Bamiduro, said: “This programme was created to drive change in the lives of women through relevant skill-based training and financial literacy sessions. We are hopeful that through this programme, beneficiaries will leverage the skills obtained to maintain a steady flow of income as women are economic pillars of the society.”
Ifeyinwa Ejindu, Communications Manager, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, added: “At Coca-Cola, we believe women are integral to our world’s shared success, so we seek to empower them both in the workplace and the communities within which we operate. Women are not only essential to building thriving communities – we believe they represent one of the biggest accelerators of economic growth. And this was the driving force behind the Catalyst For Change programme at its inception – to not only empower the women financially but to also ensure they are contributing members of society whose efforts drive the country to economic recovery.”
Oyesola Okunuga, a beneficiary from the program, expressed her gratitude to the Coca-Cola System in Nigeria, stating that the initiative had granted her a new lease on life. “For years, I’ve always been motivated to add some value to this community and those around me. I’ve been looking forward to a programme that would help me achieve this and I thank The Coca-Cola Foundation and Karis and Eleos Hand of Hope Foundation for supporting this programme. I am confident I can support my family and achieve my goal of running a successful business with what I have learnt.”
Also speaking at the event was High-Chief Oluwatoyin Adeyanju, The Baale of Alausa, who expressed his appreciation for the initiative and the support provided by the Coca-Cola System. He encouraged the women to utilise the opportunity effectively. In his words, “The impact of this programme has been incredible and it fills me with joy to see so many women jump at the chance to be part of it. Thanks to Coca-Cola and the Karis and Eleos Foundation, our women have been empowered and made to be contributing members of the Alausa community.”
According to Jerome Oyebanji, Public Affairs & Communications Manager (Lagos & West), Nigerian Bottling Company, the programme will continue to press on in its efforts to “empower women with business and life skills that will elevate them from extreme poverty and encourage community resilience.”
The next tranche of the programme is set to kick off this month in Surulere.