Not everyone is born an entrepreneur and the skills for success do not usually come naturally or easily, especially for women in rural communities with very basic education and young undergraduates.

But the basic skills can be taught and Coca-Cola Malaysia – in partnership with the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives & Consumerism – is nurturing micro business owners and undergraduates through its Coca-ColaKU (Komuniti Usahawan) programme.

Dato’ Seri Hamzah Zainudin, the private public partnership aims to provide entrepreneurship training to 14,000 students across 13 local public universities nationwide within the year, with the ultimate goal to economically empower 20,000 entrepreneurs in the country by 2020.

While it is targeted at women, Coca-ColaKU also encourages men to participate and is well on track to meet its target with more than 5,000 participants reached to date.

Under the programme Coca-Cola Malaysia provides essential business training to the participants while the Ministry provides consultation on business regulations and micro-financing.  

Apart from business management, Coca-Cola also extended the programme to its partner network where they were invited to share their experience and success stories to further inspire participants. Ride sharing concept pioneer, Uber, and successful local quick service restaurant, Marrybrown, shared their secret behind starting up successful brands and keeping relevant to ever changing consumer needs.

The Minister of Domestic Trade Co-operatives and Consumerism, Dato’ Seri Hamzah Zainudin has been supportive of the Coca-ColaKU programme and has also visited Coca-Cola Bottlers Malaysia in Nilai.

The Coca-ColaKU project in Malaysia is part of the company’s global commitment to also enable the economic empowerment of 5 million women entrepreneurs across the company’s value chain by 2020 through its 5by20 initiative.

““Coca-Cola Malaysia’s aim is to help build business and marketing skills with the aim to lead budding micro entrepreneurs onto the path of success. Combined with the regulatory and microfinancing support from MDTCC, we believe that the Coca-Cola KU programme is able to make a lasting, positive impact on participants,” says Public Affairs & Communications Director for Coca-Cola Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei Belinda Ford during a townhall meet with the Minister and students of Universiti Teknologi, Skudai in October.

Micro businesses, especially those owned by women, are crucial to the community and sustainability of the local economy, and according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), women do 66% of the world’s work but earn only 10% of the world’s income, of which 90% is reinvested in the well-being of their family and community.

“Coca-ColaKU recognizes the importance of helping to further empower these women, as well as men, so that they can maximize their income sources, which will have a powerful and positive impact on the community as a whole,” added Ford.

One in five SMEs are owned by women, but many tend to be micro enterprises with limited capital and it was reported last year that women micro businesses contributed 25 per cent to Malaysia’s gross domestic product in 2016, reflecting their important role in the nation’s economy.