Concerned by low rates of financial autonomy and inclusion skills among youth and women in Kano State, a non-profit enterprise, Whitefield Foundation in partnership with The Coca-Cola Foundation, has launched an initiative tagged E.Q.U.I.P.
The organisers said over 20,000 women and youths across the state will benefit from a series of transformative skills and knowledge programmes.
According to the Foundations, the aim of the E.Q.U.I.P project, which stands for Educate, Quench, Upgrade, Illuminate, and Pivot, is to improve the beneficiaries’ standard of living and usher them into a sustainable growth trajectory.
The company made this announcement at the launch event which was recently held at the Afficent Event Centre in Kano State.
The “Project EQUIP” initiative is being championed by the philanthropic arm of the beverage company in partnership with the Kano State Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, Medshare International Inc., and Engineering World Health.
In Nigeria, the UN posits that women and girls make up more than half of the population but still do not have sufficient access nor opportunities to realise their full potential as agents of change who can provide solutions to some of the country’s most pressing issues.
The latest data also shows that 47.3 per cent of Nigerians, or 98 million people, live in multidimensional poverty, with most of them located in Northern Nigeria.
Armed with the data above, Funmi Johnson, CEO of Whitefield Foundation, said the initiative will open a door of opportunities for the women and youth of Kano while preventing them from venturing into detrimental means of gaining financial autonomy.
As a follow-up to the initial launch in Lagos in November, the organisers said the idea is to also ensure the economic empowerment of 20,000 women and youth in Kano, as well as thousands across Lagos, Abuja, Benin, and Owerri, totaling 60,000 beneficiaries.
They said the initiative will adopt an integrative and hybrid approach towards youth and women empowerment to teach transformative skills and knowledge; improve the standard of living across target communities, show and lead participants into new ways of economic growth and set the lives of the participants on a sustainable growth trajectory.
According to Saadia Madsbjerg, president, The Coca-Cola Foundation, the project’s official launch in Kano signals a commitment to remedying socio-economic problems identified within the region, especially around skill acquisition and financial inclusion. According to her, the initiative seeks to drive women’s empowerment and youth development in vulnerable communities in Nigeria.
“We are particularly proud to finally launch Project EQUIP in Kano State,” she said. “It is no secret that we believe the Kano community will benefit greatly from this initiative, considering the recent developments and trends with regards to the lack of opportunities for women and youth to break the cycle of poverty through transformative skills.”
Speaking at the event, Nwamaka Onyemelukwe, director, Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability, Coca-Cola Nigeria, said the launch of Project EQUIP will see her company press on with its quest to engineer positive change across underserved communities in Nigeria.
She added: “Northern Nigeria is dear to us for many reasons. Just last year, we donated medical equipment worth billions of naira to the Aminu Kano Medical Centre through the Safe Birth Initiative which ensures the reduction in child and maternal deaths in the North. This year, we plan to tackle another stress area, particularly employability and skill acquisition in the State. Our interest in the North extends beyond the bottom-line benefit, which is why we continue to invest heavily in Kano State, the Northern Nigeria region, and its people.”
Kabiru Ado Lakwaya, the commissioner for youth and sports development in Kano State, also present at the event, lauded the potential impact of the initiative, adding that it will help progress the state’s development and ensure sustained economic growth.
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