Disclosure: Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages (HCCB), the beverage bottling group in India sent seven U.S. bloggers and me to India to witness the effectiveness of its initiative to economically empower women across its value chain. Coca Cola paid for the trip, however, I attended as an independent blogger who is passionate about supporting female entrepreneurs (especially in the outdoor industry). All opinions are my own.
Rain danced through Goblej village, making the dirt roads turn muddy and green from cow manure while children ran barefoot through the streets. We (eight American bloggers) trudged through the village with our red Coca-Cola umbrellas.
Jivann Jyot Sewing School
We were visiting the village to witness the success of the Jivann Jyot Sewing School organized by HindustanCoca-Cola Beverages Private Limited (HCCBPL) in 2010. This was so that we could learn how a global company empowering women could make a positive change in their life.
We ascended a flight of stairs where, at the top, colorful sandals lined the floor and a stout woman stood to welcome us. I leaned forward as I received a bindi, a small red dot on my forehead, and a homemade coconut flavored treat in my palm to eat.
Sewing machines hummed as women, young and old, busily made clothing.
We spoke with the person in charge of the center, Manjulaben Motwani, the sarpanch (mayor) of the village, who told us the school began with 15 machines and because many women wanted to join Coca Cola sent 15 additional machines.
The sewing school is empowering women to become entrepreneurs and earn a good wage.As one young woman, Mobina Syed, 22, said “I want to be an earning member of the family even after marriage.”
Another young woman Shahnaz Bano, 19, had to quit school because after 7th grade because it was too far for her to travel to the nearest high school. She’s been learning to stitch for three years and said she’s happy to be among those to receive an opportunity to learn a skill that “will stand her in good stead her entire life.”For me, it’s heartening to see companies around the world like Coca Cola who are trying to economically empower women throughout the world even as it helps themselves. Check out Coca Cola’s initiative #5by20.