A women empowerment and capacity building program sponsored by The Coca-Cola Foundation in partnership with Karis and Eleos Hand of Hope Foundation, tagged, “Catalyst for Change” has come to an end having impacted over 4,600 women in Lagos and Ogun states.
The initiative wrapped up with its final graduation ceremony held on Wednesday, December 23, 2020, at Iwaya, Lagos.
Positioned to alleviate women from financial instability due to the attendant effects of the pandemic, the training included courses in wig making, make-up artistry, fashion designing, household essentials, shoe making, social media presence and business development amongst others.
The training was held across five communities namely Iwaya, Oworonshoki, Sangotedo, Magboro and Ogijo, with 1,000 of these women receiving startup kits, upon completion of the training, to help set up their small-scale businesses.
The last two communities, Oworonshoki and Iwaya, had a total of 2,000 women trained in the months of November and December.
Speaking on the program, Mabel Odunayo Fagun, the Valedictorian from Oworonshoki said, “With what we have learnt, we need to show the world the skills attained, and the impact The Coca-Cola Foundation has made in our lives”.
Also, Prince Babatunde Saliu of Oworoshoki expressed his satisfaction with the community-centred initiative saying, “We are very appreciative of Coca-Cola for the one thousand women who were trained, as employment has been created for our people.
“As we have seen, with more employment of our people comes peace in the Oworonshoki community.
“We pledge to continue the great work which has been started by The Coca-Cola Foundation”.
At the final closing ceremony held at Iwaya, emotions were high as the Iwaya women rent the air with cheerful chants of “Coca-Cola”.
Asegun Bamidele, a Valedictorian and beneficiary from the Iwaya community explained, “Just like the popular saying, there is no tool for development more than the empowerment of a woman.
We are so thankful to Coca-Cola for this program to enhance the standard of living in our community”.
The graduation ceremony was a sight to behold as the graduates celebrated amidst the serenading violins playing tunes to traditional dancers who graced the stage. The program is proof that the empowerment and autonomy of women is directly linked to the improvement of their economic status.
Speaking at the event, the Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability Manager at Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, Nwamaka Onyemelukwe, explained “Across the world, women are faced with significant challenges that impact them economically in terms of livelihood and well-being.
“This program seeks to empower women and girls across the rural demographic with the relevant skills and support that will improve their access to a more secure future.
“In 2021, follow-ups will be done across all five communities to ensure these women are making progress and enhancing the society effectively”.
During the ceremony, Akinrogun of Iwaya Land, Chief Engr. Balance Akinyemi added, “I encourage all program beneficiaries to use the knowledge acquired to continue to build their businesses and explore opportunities in our local markets”.
Present at the closing ceremony were Women Leader, Honorable Mrs Akerele; Akinrogun of Iwaya Land, Chief Engr. Balance Akinyemi; Head, Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, Nwamaka Onyemelukwe; and Head, Sustainability, Coca-Cola West Africa, Uche Ogbonna.
For Coca-Cola, women empowerment and bridging the gap of opportunities are essential for achieving an inclusive and sustainable society positioned for economic growth.
The funding of the Catalyst for Change program by The Coca-Cola Foundation will help Coca-Cola achieve its “5by20” mandate to empower five million women economically where over 4.6 million women have been positively impacted in 2019.
Since 1984, The Coca-Cola Company has contributed more than $1 billion to help empower women, protect the environment, and enhance communities, socially and economically, around the world.