In furtherance of its efforts to support communities and governments to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, the Coca-Cola System in Nigeria, comprising Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) and Coca-Cola Nigeria, has donated business start-up equipment to women and youths in communities in Aba, Abia State and Port Harcourt in Rivers under its post-COVID-19 community interventions.
The beneficiaries, who had earlier been trained by a local NGO, Genius Hub, on behalf of the Coca-Cola System, received shoe-making and tailoring equipment to start their businesses and begin their journey to self-reliance.
The Coca-Cola System, which has always supported its stakeholders and communities with positive and impactful interventions, implemented the program with funds from the Coca-Cola Foundation.
The beneficiaries, who beamed with smiles while receiving the equipment, expressed gratitude to the Coca-Cola System, noting that the gesture would improve their economic status.
“I am very grateful for this sewing machine and other fashion designing equipment given to me, and I want to thank you, Nigerian Bottling Company and Coca-Cola Nigeria. You have not only given us fish, but you have also taught us how to fish,” one of the beneficiaries, Gift Ejike, said.
Another beneficiary and a community leader, Elder Azubuike Erondu, also commended the NBC and Coca-Cola Nigeria for the intervention, describing it as a more sustainable approach to helping communities overcome the economic disruptions caused by the pandemic;
“The NBC and Coca-Cola Nigeria have done excellently well for us, and we are grateful. This is a timely intervention, especially for people who are still recovering from the effects of the pandemic. The pandemic affected businesses and brought untold hardship on many people. But through this intervention, we have gained valuable skills and received start-up equipment and support to launch our businesses and create value.”
According to the Director of Public Affairs and Communications, NBC, Ekuma Eze, the intervention, tagged ‘Making a Difference’, was a continuation of the Coca-Cola System’s support for Nigerians adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are witnesses to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially to families, small businesses, artisans and other vulnerable Nigerians. As a responsible organisation committed to the growth of our communities, we believe this initiative will support and empower vulnerable people in our communities to regain their feet post-pandemic. We also recognise the critical role and contributions of the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sector to the Nigerian economy. Therefore, this intervention will not only lift the beneficiaries out of their present predicament, but it also presents an important avenue to stimulate the growth of this important sector.”
Ekuma, who assured that the equipment grant was a precursor to many more rewarding programs to support host communities, commended its implementing partner, Genius Hub, for the diligent execution of the program and reiterated the System’s commitment to the welfare of Nigerians.
Also speaking, Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability Director, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, Nwamaka Onyemelukwe, said:
“Without a doubt, entrepreneurship remains a veritable tool to promote economic empowerment and build a sustainable economy for the benefit of us all. This is why, for the past 70 years, we have remained committed to continually unlock new vistas of opportunities for our people and communities to thrive.”
The ‘Making a Difference’ program is the latest COVID-19 and post-pandemic intervention by the Coca-Cola System in Nigeria. The company launched a food relief intervention to support vulnerable households in the wake of the pandemic. The System also donated over 13 million centilitres of its beverages, including Eva premium table water and soft drinks, to provide hydration and nourishment for patients and healthcare workers at Isolation and Treatment Centres across different states in the country.
Besides, both companies also supported the Federal Ministry of Health and NCDC to develop risk communication materials to complement the government’s public education and mobilisation initiatives in the fight against the Coronavirus outbreak.