By Merit Ibe
About 1,062 women were recently equipped with transformative skills at Onigbongbo community, Lagos, through the Coca-Cola Foundation-funded women empowerment initiative, Catalyst for Change 2.0, to enhance their economic standards and quality of life.
The graduation ceremony, held at the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Maryland, marked the conclusion of another edition of the initiative in Lagos, bringing the total number of empowered communities in Lagos to nine out of 10.
Catalyst for Change 2.0 is one of Coca Cola’s several women empowerment and youth development initiatives and has delivered economic empowerment to 9,062 women through vocational skills such as pastry making, shoemaking, fashion designing, makeup artistry, wig making, tie and dye, household essentials and bag making. Participants in financial literacy and business management classes learned about bookkeeping, personal and product branding, social media management, and customer relationship management.
Speaking at the ceremony, Nwamaka Onyemelukwe, Director, Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability, Coca-Cola Nigeria, commended the beneficiaries and challenged them to continue using the skills gained through the programme.
“I am heartened by the great achievements of previous participants of this program. When women work, economies thrive, and women empowerment increases productivity. The sponsorship of this project is in line with our Africa sustainability platform JAMII focused on wealth creation for women and youths. The system is thrilled about the outcomes and impact stories and I anticipate that this batch of beneficiaries will attain a better degree of achievement,” she said.
The goal of this initiative, according to Onyemelukwe, is to constantly lower the number of disadvantaged women in society and integrate them into a growth trajectory that generates value for their families and society.
Bukola Bamiduro, founder, Karis and Eleos Hand of Hope Foundation, the program implementing partner advised the beneficiaries to continuously create value in their communities through the application and transmission of knowledge while uplifting themselves, thereby leading to the formation of a cycle of transgenerational businesses.
She thanked the Foundation for financially supporting the project and Wema Bank for the financial opportunities offered to the beneficiaries to ensure a better standard of living.
Amaka Igboaziahia, an outstanding alumna of the Catalyst for Change 2.0 in Surulere community , recounted her experiences during the occasion. Igboahazia, who now runs an Ottoman upholstery business as well as a confectionery startup, urged the program’s participants to make the best use of the tools and skills they gained. “Rather than sitting passively at home, employ these skills you have gained to construct a better life for yourselves,” she said. I understood what I wanted out of the program from the first day, and I continually enhanced my efforts toward launching my business”.
Adeyemi Adebimpe, a beneficiary from the Onigbongbo Community, also conveyed her appreciation to the Coca-Cola Foundation and the Karis and Eleos Foundation for the opportunity. “I am grateful to both foundations for this life-changing experience, and I can’t wait to start my business with all I’ve learnt. Being a part of this program has transformed my perspective on being self-sufficient, and I intend to pass this information on to other women in my life,” she stated.
Chinyere Nwigwe, another program beneficiary, expressed confidence in her ability to account for her funds while running her shoe making and fashion designing businesses as a result of the business lessons she took during the program.
So far, a total of 1,800 women have received start up kits/seep capital to start businesses out of the 9,000 women who have participated in the program.