The Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF,) Coca-Cola Nigeria Ltd., and its bottling partner, Nigeria Bottling Company, have jointly and severally signed a partnership agreement, via a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, to empower 1,000 women in Lagos State.
Through this partnership framework, the selected women will receive training in financial literacy and business skills, as well as start-up capital to integrate them into the Coca-Cola Value Chain as retailers of the company’s beverage products.
This partnership is anchored on 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. Representing the LSETF at the MoU signing ceremony, the Executive Secretary LSETF, Akintunde Oyebodestated, said "LSETF’s mandate is aimed at creating an enabling environment for Lagos residents to realize their business aspirations by providing leverage and access to finance for them to thrive; while ensuring employment and innovative opportunities for all residents of the state. A partnership with an organization such as Coca-Cola, assures us that we are working in the right direction and strengthens our commitment to building entrepreneurs within the state. We understand that, to empower a woman, is to empower a whole generation. We will continue to provide accessible and affordable credit to support women as they seek to start or expand their businesses; because when we do, we create wealth and employment that alleviates poverty.”
The Managing Director of Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, Bhupendra Suri, reiterated the company’s commitment saying,“Now more than ever, we are certain of our commitment to the well-being of our communities, a critical part of which are our women. As pillars of their communities, women invest a sizable portion of the income they earn on the health and education of their children and in their local economies, creating a tremendous economic impact. Lagos State Employment Trust Fund is our partner of choice for this initiative considering our shared vision on women empowerment and its vast network across the State.’’
He further stated that realizing the vision of enabling the economic empowerment of five million women by 2020, depends on building scalable models and powerful partnerships, across business, civil society and government, which is vital to maximizing the impact of their programs and making them more sustainable.
Mrs. Sade Morgan, Legal and Public Affairs Communications Director, Nigeria Bottling Company, in agreement, said, “As a part of The Coca-Cola System, we understand the importance of partnerships. Our business and its growth in Nigeria are a result of strategic partnerships with distributors, retailers and our consumers. Whenever there is a call to collaborate for sustainable impact, we ensure we are there to support it with our expertise. We will work to position each beneficiary in strategic locations that are profitable and link them up to our distribution network, so that the ripple effect of individual growth can be felt across our society.”
Coca-Cola and its bottling partner, Nigeria Bottling Company, will provide access to Coca-Cola trade assets (including coolers, tables, umbrellas and Coca-Cola beverage products); peer networks, funds for training and support beneficiaries in the set-up of retail outlets in commercially-viable locations; linking them to the nearest Coca-Cola distributors. LSETF will fund the trade assets and co-fund the programme implementation, while also leading the identification and recruitment of participants to the programme. This timely and welcomed public private partnership is the second one between Lagos State Government and Coca-Cola System, the first one having been launched in 2012 and has so far empowered 300 women in the State.