As the African continent celebrates ‘International Youth Day’, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) takes a step back to reflect on the thousands of youth lives it has impacted annually through its various initiatives on the continent.
According to management, thousands of young people are receiving critical skills development – particularly much-needed entrepreneurship skills to start and build their businesses due to investments of the multinational brand.
Group Director-Public Affairs, Communicatio, and Sustainability at CCBA, Tshidi Ramogase, stated the brand believes that economic inclusion plays a critical role in providing economic opportunities to the youth, as it opens up avenues to access markets and other economic activities.
“We believe that developing entrepreneurs for the future creates the possibility of linking them to the Coca-Cola value chain today or in the future.
“CCBA directly empowers thousands of young people every year through various programmes across its markets, enabling their inclusion in the economy. In 2020, CCBA empowered over 11,000 young people through various programmes; thus enabling their inclusion in the economy,” said Ramogase.
Touching on this year’s International Youth Day theme, ‘Intergenerational Solidarity’, the group public affairs director indicated that it acts as a reminder of the need to collaborate to strengthen key partnerships across Africa to ensure no one gets left behind.
According to the United Nations, small businesses run by the youth and young women account for close to 60 percent of Africa’s GDP, creating about 450 million jobs.
Ramogase added further that CCBA aims to boost income, provide decent earning potential and improve skills and business knowledge for youth, and in particular women, resulting in them accessing other opportunities.
For instance, In Ghana, Voltic (GH) Limited – a subsidiary of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa – has supported the career development of young women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Earlier this year, Voltic joined the non-profit organisation ‘Girls in Science and Technology (GIST)’ to launch the GIST-University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa chapter.
The programme introduces GIST to women students in university and promotes their participation in STEM while sparking their interest in the endless career opportunities available to them.
Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) has spent more than R105million on its ‘Bizniz in a Box’ initiative, and most recently its ‘Study Buddy Fund’. The company launched the former in 2016, primarily to transform aspirant entrepreneurs into fully-fledged business owners who can create a livelihood for themselves and others.
In the Ngong Hills of Kenya, CCBA has onboarded the ‘Go Green Youth Club’ that has a team of over 19 members supporting them by installing segregation stations across the Ngong Hills. The youth collect, aggregate and deliver recyclable waste to respective recyclers in Nairobi for processing. The project has seen the youth group deliver approximately 500kg of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) plastics to recyclers in Nairobi monthly; therefore conserving the forest by reducing pollution and creating livelihoods for themselves.
Another initiative – the ‘Kuza Kazi’ – was launched in 2019 to harness the power of the Coca-Cola Company’s supply chain to create jobs for Kenyan youths every year, in partnership with like-minded private sector entities and with support from the country’s government. By the end of 2021, the initiative was able to empower over 1,000 youth across the Kericho, Kisii, Migori, Kwale, and Nyeri counties in Kenya.
Ramogase concluded by stating that investment in youth economic inclusion creates shared value in hopes of a better-shared future – enabling improved livelihoods for young people, their families and their communities, while inclusively expanding business.