Making Women Catalyst for Change Ambassadors



Vanessa Obioha writes that the Coca-Cola Foundation continues to empower more women in local communities such as Sangotedo through the ‘Catalyst for Change’ training programme

The role of women in any society cannot be overemphasized. They play a pivotal role in the growth and development of any society. No one understands this better than the Coca-Cola Foundation. Understanding the impact the global pandemic caused by the mysterious coronavirus had on livelihoods, particularly women who are underserved in society, the foundation partnered Eleos Hand of Hope Foundation to offer free vocational skills acquisition training programme to women in local communities.

Titled, ‘Catalyst for Change,’ the aim of the one-month intensive training programme is to aid economic recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the period of their training, the selected women acquired skills in baking, sewing, wig making, tie and dye, shoe and bag making, soap and household items production.
Thus, it was a joyous atmosphere when the foundation visited the Sangotedo community in Lagos State, recently. Over 600 women gathered at the community’s primary school to witness the graduation ceremony of participants of the training.

Old and young, royalty and commons were in attendance to mark the milestone in the community. Some of the personalities in attendance included the Baale of Sangotedo, Chief Rafiu Lawal Ajakaiye, represented by Raman Suleman; the NULGE Chairman and HOD Education, Eti Osa East, Comrade Omojole Olabode; the CCO to the Head Teacher at Sangotedo Primary School, Haruna Abulwakin, Public Affairs Communication and Sustainability Manager at Coca-Cola Nigeria, Nwamaka Onyemelukwe; Founder, Karis and Eleos Hand of Hope Foundation, Bukola Bamiduro; ED, RecyclePoints, Taiwo Adewole and many others.
Out of the 612 graduates, 100 were presented with start-up kits for their different areas of interest.
The intervention of the beverage company’s Foundation is timely as the country is gradually inching towards recession. In recent times, prices of food have spiked, so also transportation fares and oil prices continue to dip in the global market.

By empowering the women and automatically making them ambassadors of the program, the women can successfully create their start-ups and support their family needs.
Valedictorian Ekhator Clara understood the importance of the training to her community. It has changed their mindsets. Unlike in the past where they are only limited to the skills acquired, the training equipped them with other marketing skills such as personal branding, use of social media for business, financial literacy and networking, to mention a few. The additional information has boosted her confidence and that of her colleagues.

Such testimonials reiterate Coca-Cola’s commitment to economically empower women. In the past decade, the company has empowered women to build sustainable communities.
“Women are not only essential to building thriving communities – we truly believe they represent one of the biggest accelerators to economic growth globally,” said the Public Affairs, Communication and Sustainability Manager, Coca-Cola Nigeria, Nwamaka Onyemelukwe.

She urged the graduates to ensure that they remain good ambassadors of the Coca-Cola ‘Catalyst for Change’ initiative.
Interestingly, the Women Leader of Eti-Osa East LCDA, Folashade Olarotimi was among the trainees. She expressed gratitude to the organisers for their commitment to building human capacity and empowering lives while advising the graduating students to make great use of all the skills learnt and ensure that they add value to the society.
For the Baale, the empowerment program will no doubt go a long way in alleviating the economic hardship caused by the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in his community.

‘Catalyst for Change’ initiative was launched in August to equip 5000 women with relevant vocational and business skills for economic recovery from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The programme is to be undertaken across five communities in Lagos state, with 1000 of the targeted women receiving funding and support to set up their small-scale enterprises.
It is in line with its global campaign ‘5by20’ initiative which seeks to empower five million entrepreneurs globally by the year 2020. So far, the company has empowered over four million across the globe with over 400,000 Nigerian women directly impacted.