Reason to celebrate on Africa Day as free trade agreement opens new possibilities

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Africa Day has taken on a new significance under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, creating the world’s largest free trade area and a 1.2 billion-person market which has the potential to power industrial development and lift millions out of poverty – and Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) is contributing to make this a reality.

The company has already exceeded its target to source locally 80% of the raw materials usually imported, having reached 83% local sourcing by 2020. Achieving such high levels of local content frequently requires CCBA to assist suppliers to become compliant with its high standards, leading to improvements in quality and competitiveness.

This translates into increased opportunity for African suppliers, entrepreneurs and industrialists, helping to develop local economies, diversify goods made in Africa and support intra-continental trade and inclusive growth.

“As CCBA, we strive to grow our business so that local suppliers benefit, jobs are created in the community, governments receive taxes and shareholders receive a return on their investment,” said CCBA CEO, Jacques Vermeulen.

“We are currently focused on identifying more categories where we can source locally, such as locally-sourced recycled PET, localising the manufacturing of original equipment manufacturer’s parts and sourcing locally-grown fruits for fruit juice.

“For greater impact, we also aim to empower women and youth in our local sourcing initiatives,” Vermeulen said.

“We believe that by doing business the right way, we can contribute to improving livelihoods wherever we do business, refreshing Africa every day and making our continent a better place for all.”

An example is in Ghana, where CCBA sourced 100% of raw materials locally by 2020. Initially local suppliers didn’t have the necessary technical equipment and expertise to produce preforms, closures and labels according to the company’s specifications.

CCBA proactively supported local suppliers with technical skills and contractual off-take agreements which enabled them to purchase the required machinery to improve their standards.

With increased local sourcing, CCBA saved costs on shipping, customs, clearing and inventory management, driving bottom line profitability, and illustrating how economic inclusion can be beneficial to both businesses and local economies.

Another example is in South Africa, where CCBSA sourced 98% locally.

More relevant in Africa than any other continent, women are integral to the continent’s shared success and are often the decision drivers behind consumer spending trends.

CCBA seeks to empower women both in the workplace and through community programmes throughout its markets on the continent.

The company supports women entrepreneurs to thrive through the provision of financial support, mentoring and training.

An example is the Entoto women empowerment programme in Ethiopia, which was launched in 2020. It has enabled more than 260 women to earn higher incomes by collecting and selling used plastic bottles and distributing The Coca-Cola Company’s products – in turn also aiding CCBA’s environmental initiatives in relation to recycling.

Seeing significant growth potential in Ethiopia, CCBA established nine new intensive training centres to increase the amount of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) collected, resulting in more than 400 women having received intensive training on PET reuse and recycling.

CCBA also embarked on a market development programme which empowered over 800 women business owners through the provision of coolers to sell more products and expand their businesses.

On the youth front, empowering young people and enabling their inclusion in the economy is critical if CCBA is to achieve its vision of making Africa a better place for all.

CCBA empowered over 11 100 youth in 2020 across various markets to help make them active participants in the economy.

In South Africa, as an example, CCBSA established an enterprise development initiative in 2015, known as Bizniz-in-a-Box, to make a sustainable impact on youth unemployment by creating an ecosystem of viable micro-businesses offering complementary products and services in township communities.

Using the spaza shop as the anchor, each business operates out of a custom-designed container, covering various core needs of the local community. The programme offers young entrepreneurs an opportunity to learn business skills to enable them to grow and run their own business.

CCBSA has trained over 720 young entrepreneurs and rolled out over 220 Bizniz-in-a-Box outlets since the inception of the programme, of which 47% are female owned businesses.

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