100 women entrepreneurs kickoff business with 5by20 campaign in Sierra Leone

A partnership with The Coca Cola Company and UN Women to economically empower five million women by 2020 is on with the first one hundred women collecting retail startup kits comprising of mini tables, cool boxes, two crates of soft drinks and a giant umbrella.

A journey has started that will change the lives of four hundred Sierra Leonean women. The joint venture driven by the flagship program 5by20 which was launch in 2010 by The Coca Cola Bottling company CEO Mukhtar Kent, has already started in Ghana, Gambia, Cape Verde, south Africa and Sierra Leone with a global commitment to economically empower five million women.

The heightened excitement of the beneficiaries reinforces the view that economic empowerment can create hope and confidence for women as they collected their startup kits. The initiative offers women access to business skills training courses, financial services and connections with peers or mentors. Along with the confidence that comes with building a successful business, the women will be monitored, profiled and documented to show case their diligence in economic empowerment together with a certificate to prove their competence and participation.

“A journey to a thousand miles starts with the first step”

says Jeneba Kamara one of many beneficiaries of the 5by20 campaign. She says she is very happy to be part of the first one hundred women to start the business as she has been trained on customer service and how to make savings.

Jeneba added that the venture is a life changing encounter stressing that she will try very hard not to misuse the opportunity but rather use it to release herself from financial constraints. George Musa, Sales manager Sierra Leone Bottling Company says that they have been working assiduously starting with the selection process with the UN Women, identifying the venerable women in the various communities that are prepared to benefit from the project.

“I feel very excited to be assisting our community women”

he added. He disclosed that a sum of two hundred thousand dollars will be used in total spending six hundred dollars per head to make the project a success.

He called on the beneficiary to jump at the opportunity and take advantage of it. UN Women sees the journey of the first one hundred women entrepreneurs as a step in the right direction to women’s economic empowerment, ensuring that women and girls live a life free from violence and also foster peace and security and humanitarian action which are shaped by women’s leadership and participation. The program will eventually benefit other women in the provinces in Makeni and Kenema in the second phase.

This cooperation at country level therefore is responding to both UN Women’s Strategic Plan and The Coca Cola Company’s (TCCC) global “5 by 20 Initiative”, building on the strengths of each organization system-wide operations and network. UN Women will use this platform to get its message across, demonstrating the power of collaboration in addressing women’s economic empowerment in a sustainable manner.

Article by Cecil Nelson, Communications officer UN Women