No fewer than 300 women drawn from different communities in Lagos state have been empowered to start up their own small businesses through the women empowerment initiative by the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), in partnership with Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited and its bottling partner, Nigeria Bottling Company Limited (NBC) in line with Coca-Cola’s 5by20 Programme which is the Company’s global commitment to enable the economic empowerment of 5 million women entrepreneurs across its value chain by 2020.
The 300 women who are the first batch of the 1000 women targeted for the initiative were 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 held on Thursday, March 12, 2019, The Executive Secretary of Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), Mr. Akintunde Oyebode stated that 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 lots economicallyurged them to judiciously put into use all the skills acquired as well as the resources mobilized for them.
While expressing appreciation to the two partners for their contributions in complementing government’s effort 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 trainings as well as the handing over of the assets, the Managing Director of Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, Mr. Bhupendra Suri, represented at the event by Ms Nwamaka Onyemelukwe, Public Affairs & Communications Manager, advised the women to make the best use of the resources handed overto 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 companyrecognises the socio-economic value that women bring to enterprise development and urged other corporate organizations to consider Women Empowerment as a business imperative.
She said “we are as prosperous as the communities in which we operate. The shared prosperity we envision as a company would only add up when we commit resolutely to empowering people living around the communities where we operate. We believe any investment on them, particularly women would trigger not only economic growth but foster sustainable development. As you are aware, women are pillars of the communities we serve and pillars of our business. We are convinced that they will play a significant role in shaping Nigeria’s economy over the next decade. So, empowering the women through this initiative would go a long way to address poverty and unemployment in the state”
In his own remarks, Public Affairs and Communication Director, Nigeria Bottling Company (NBC) Limited, Ekuma Eze 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 necessary skills over the last two months and we would deploy these skills into use in running our businesses” Akingbade added.