Coca-Cola empowering women economically
COCA-COLA has successfully completed the first phase of its economic empowerment programme for women in remote char areas of Jamalpur in Bangladesh.
The company presented the outcome of the scheme, which was taken under a global initiative, and launched the second phase at a programme at Lakeshore Hotel in Dhaka yesterday.
The second phase will cover Khulna and Bagerhat districts. The global programme—5by20—seeks to economically empower five million women worldwide by 2020.
The initiative in Bangladesh is implemented by Concern Universal, a non-profit organisation, and it has trained women on modern technologies that are used in daily life.
The scheme was adapted into the Women Business Centre (WBC) programme in Bangladesh.
Concern Universal found in a survey that with the help of the training, women entrepreneurs were able to increase their production by 5 percent, reduce the cost of production by 5 percent and get better prices for their produce.
The programme, which was launched in 2015 with 10 WBCs, helped train 10,125 women on agricultural production, marketing services, mobile and computer services and basic healthcare last year.
The WBC project aims to address common barriers women face in the marketplace.
The project will provide women with the access to business skills training, market information, agriculture training and inputs, mobile banking assistance, healthcare inputs and counselling, mentoring and networking opportunities.
A group of five women entrepreneurs who run the WBCs in each village are provided with seed capital for setting up the centre and skill-based training.
“We want more than 100,000 women of Bangladesh to get training from this centres and change their lives by themselves,” said Sumanta Datta, vice president for operations and customer leadership at Coca-Cola.
He said their business will not be successful if the community is not made prosperous first.
In the ceremony, Coco-Cola handed over a crest to one of the top women entrepreneurs and honoured two others.
While visiting the Kendual union of Jamalpur district, senior regional officials of Coca-Cola expressed their satisfaction over the success rate of the empowerment programme, according to a statement.
New initiatives will be taken emulating the success of the Jamalpur project, said Ishteyaque Amjad, vice president for public affairs and communications at Coca-Cola. He said, with regard to workforce participation, Bangladeshi women are doing better than those in other South Asian countries.
However, women workers are continuously facing harder obstacles, from balancing work and family to accessing financing, often arising from a lack of training and confidence.
“In partnership with Concern Universal, we have tried to bank on the potential of disenfranchised women globally by providing relevant skills training to rural women through WBCs,” Amjad said.
“The success of the first phase tells us that we are ready and equipped to take on the challenge of the second phase.”
James Treasure-Evans, international programme and policy manager at Concern Universal, thanked Coca-Cola and said engaging corporations with the public and non-profit sectors to find common solutions to problems makes for a successful partnership.
He said they will spend a huge amount of money through Concern Universal in Bangladesh this year.
Senior officials of Coca-Cola Bangladesh and Concern Universal also spoke.