By Phiwa Sikhondze
Eswatini Coca-Cola Beverages (ECCB) has awarded mobile kitchens to 8 entrepreneurs in Eswatini as part of its Bizniz-in-a-Box initiative.
The initiative is a partnership between ECCB and Business Eswatini (BE) and aims to empower and assist local entrepreneurs in the food industry by offering them access to markets, training, and mentorship.
The Bizniz-in-a-Box initiative is one of the many initiatives that ECCB and BE have undertaken to support the MSME sector in Eswatini.
The initiative is also in line with the revised MSME National Policy and Citizens Economic Empowerment Act, which aims to create an enabling environment for MSMEs to grow and succeed in the country.
The Policy and the Act provide various incentives and support measures for MSMEs, such as access to finance, markets, technology, and infrastructure and skills development.
The award ceremony was held today at the BE boardroom and was graced by the Minister of Commerce, Industry, and Trade, Manqoba Khumalo, who commended ECCB and BE for their visionary leadership, dedication, and commitment to nurturing entrepreneurship.
He said that the initiative was in line with the government’s vision of creating new jobs and enriching the existing ones, as well as promoting inclusivity and diversification in the economy.
“MSMEs are quite significant contributors to employment generation in the country as they often provide opportunities for individuals who face challenges in securing employment in medium and larger corporations. Supporting MSMEs helps to reduce unemployment rates and alleviates poverty by providing sustainable livelihoods,” he said.
He also urged the winners of the competition to take advantage of the resources availed by ECCB, Business Eswatini, and the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Trade to grow their businesses. He encouraged them to use mobile kitchens as a platform to showcase their products and services, reach new customers, and expand their market share.
The President of BE, Mvuselelo Fakudze, also congratulated the winners and thanked ECCB for its generosity and social responsibility. He said that ECCB had shown its kindness through BE on several occasions.
He said that ECCB’s Bizniz-in-a-Box initiative was a catalyst for economic empowerment, job creation, and poverty alleviation by nurturing entrepreneurship and fostering sustainable business ventures.
The Country Director of ECCB, Sanele Khumalo, said that the initiative was a reflection of ECCB’s commitment to being a responsible corporate citizen and contributing positively to the communities in which it operates. She said that the initiative was designed to support MSMEs that are involved in the food and beverage sector, highlighting that the initiative will grow into more sectors with time.
She further stated that the initiative was not only about giving out mobile kitchens, but also about providing ongoing support and mentorship to the winners. The Country Director revealed that ECCB in collaboration with BE and other partners would provide training, coaching, and monitoring to the winners to ensure that they succeed in their businesses.
Khumalo appealed to the financial institutions to financially support the entrepreneurs to help fight unemployment and poverty in the country.
The winners expressed their gratitude and excitement for being part of the initiative. One of the beneficiaries who is the founder and director of SK Grills menu, Simphiwe Dlamini, said that the mobile kitchens would enable them to improve their products and services, increase their sales and profits, and create more jobs for themselves and others. He also cited some challenges that they face as entrepreneurs in the country and called for the government’s intervention to save the situation.