Nairobi, Kenya, (4 April, 2012): About 50 business leaders and 200 students drawn from public private universities are converging in Nairobi today in a forum aimed at discussing how future business leaders can harness opportunities presented by food security challenges in the country.
Meeting under the auspices of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), the students huddle at the Panafric Hotel to brainstorm on the theme Feeding Kenya in the 21st Century at a half- day forum in partnership with Coca-Cola Central, East and West Africa.
The parley will focus on identifying ways to promote food security through improved productivity in Kenya. Kenya's Minister for Agriculture Dr. Sally Kosgeywill deliver a keynote address followed by presentations by a cross-section of experts drawn from the private sector. Business leaders present will be placed on the "Hot Seat" to challenge university students with pro-active ideas for viable partnerships on food security issues.
"Some of the key challenges that compromise efforts towards food security include low-quality farm inputs, poor storage, inability to process foods for wider distribution and lack of access to affordable foods. Attaining food security is not a one-off project or initiative. It takes proactive and deliberate steps to be achieved - A way of life - A way of thinking about how we live, every day. At Coca-Cola, we look forward to sharing our experience in pushing access as one out of the many ways that one can tackle food security challenges. Our belief is that platforms like these will help provide sustainable solutions, not only in Kenya but also in the region and especially Horn of Africa where the problem has been chronic," says Norah Odwesso, Public Affairs and Communications Director, Coca-Cola Central, East and West Africa Business Unit.
SIFE is an international non-profit organization that works with leaders in business and higher education to mobilize university students to make a difference in their communities while developing the skills to become socially-responsible business leaders.
"SIFE Kenya students have been on the forefront in implementing community projects across the country from which they compete and travel abroad for SIFE World Cup competitions. It is my hope that this forum will provide a refreshing moment on how Kenyan youth can take charge and become the next generation of elite farmers to feed the country and the continent," says James Shikwati, SIFE Kenya Country Director and Director at IREN.
Kenya suffers constant food security challenges that call for a joint effort to address productivity, storage, processing and accessibility of food to all. The ongoing rapid urbanization and revolution in the retail sector is testimony to opportunities that beckon Kenyans to participate actively in food-related issues. Coca-Cola partners with SIFE in various other countries in Africa, including Senegal, Egypt, Morocco, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
Last year, the Horn of Africa experienced one of the worst drought situations ever with United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA) estimating that at least 12 million of people in Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Somalia faced starvation.
Coca-Cola stepped in to alleviate the situation with a donation of US$ 1.4 million and appealed for dynamic collaboration between governments and other stakeholders to ensure a sustainable solution to the problem. Coca-Cola says the upcoming students' conference offers a perfect opportunity for stakeholders to fix the food situation.
About SIFE Kenya
Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) is the largest global business and higher education network and partnership initiative that operates in over 1,800 campuses in 39 countries. SIFE was launched in Kenya in February 2003 following a Memorandum of Understanding between SIFE International and the Inter Region Economic Network (IREN). SIFE Kenya operates in 16 universities and has an alumnus of over 3,000.
About The Coca-Cola Company
The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is the world's largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands. Led by Coca-Cola, the world's most valuable brand, the Company's portfolio features 15 billion dollar brands including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, vitamin water, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply and Georgia. Globally, we are the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, juices and juice drinks and ready-to-drink teas and coffees. Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy the Company's beverages at a rate of 1.7 billion servings a day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, our Company is focused on initiatives that reduce our environmental footprint, support active, healthy living, create a safe, inclusive work environment for our associates, and enhance the economic development of the communities where we operate. For more information about our Company, please visit our website at www.thecoca-colacompany.com