Coca-Cola and NBC ex­pand in­vest­ment in Gaza

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

The Coca-Cola Com­pany and Na­tional Bev­er­age Com­pany (NBC) yes­ter­day of­fi­cially in­au­gu­rated a new Coca-Cola bot­tling fa­cil­ity lo­cated in Gaza, which rep­re­sents a $20 mil­lion in­vest­ment in the re­gion. The new bot­tling fa­cil­ity fur­ther ex­pands Na­tional Bev­er­age Com­pany’s Pales­tinian op­er­a­tions to four bot­tling plants and four dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ters, and im­me­di­ately cre­ates 120 di­rect jobs in Gaza, while in­di­rectly sup­port­ing more than 1,200 Pales­tini­ans through a lo­cal value-chain of sup­pli­ers, dis­trib­u­tors and re­tail­ers.

Fol­low­ing planned fu­ture ex­pan­sion within the next three years, the Coca-Cola Gaza plant will even­tu­ally em­ploy 270 peo­ple, bring­ing the to­tal num­ber of di­rect Pales­tinian jobs across the West Bank and Gaza to more than 750, and the to­tal num­ber of in­di­rect job op­por­tu­ni­ties to more than 7,500.

The Coca-Cola Foun­da­tion, NBC and Mercy Corps, the in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment or­ga­ni­za­tion, also an­nounced a new $1.3 mil­lion char­i­ta­ble ini­tia­tive de­signed to ad­dress two re­gional de­vel­op­ment chal­lenges -en­sur­ing ac­cess to clean drink­ing wa­ter and cre­at­ing em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for Pales­tinian youth. The ‘Em­pow­er­ing Sus­tain­able Com­mu­ni­ties in Gaza’ ini­tia­tive aims to sup­port over 30,000 Pales­tinian ben­e­fi­cia­ries within three years.

The char­i­ta­ble ini­tia­tive in­cludes plans to con­struct a de­sali­na­tion plant near Al Mag­hazi refugee camp in the cen­ter of Gaza that will pro­vide a sus­tain­able wa­ter source to a pop­u­la­tion of more than 24,000 reg­is­tered refugees. NBC is the third largest Pales­tinian em­ployer and the fifth largest Pales­tinian in­vestor with over 600 di­rect em­ploy­ees, and is the largest food and bev­er­age com­pany in the re­gion, hav­ing pro­duced sparkling and stills bev­er­age prod­ucts since 1998, in­clud­ing Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite, Cappy juice, Arwa and Jeri­cho min­eral wa­ter.

With ex­ist­ing bot­tling fa­cil­i­ties in Jeri­cho, Tulka­rem, Ra­mal­lah and its Ra­mal­lah head­quar­ters and main dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter, con­struc­tion of the Gaza plant be­gan in 2014 and be­gan pro­duc­tion in April 2016. “Na­tional Bev­er­age Com­pany and Coca-Cola share great pride in hav­ing been part of the fab­ric of Pales­tinian com­mu­ni­ties for al­most 18 years, and our new Gaza plant shows our on­go­ing com­mit­ment to in­vest­ing and sup­port­ing progress in com­mu­ni­ties around the world,” said Muhtar Kent, Chair­man and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer, The Coca-Cola Com­pany.

“We be­lieve that strong busi­nesses can help en­able strong com­mu­ni­ties, and we are de­lighted to wel­come new Gazan em­ploy­ees, dis­trib­u­tors and re­tail­ers to our Coca-Cola sys­tem, while jointly un­der­tak­ing im­por­tant work with NBC and Mercy Corps that we be­lieve can have a pos­i­tive and last­ing im­pact for years to come.”

“Ever since NBC first be­gan op­er­a­tions, we have been firmly com­mit­ted to build­ing a suc­cess­ful Pales­tinian busi­ness that can cre­ate em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, sup­port the na­tional econ­omy and demon­strate the great ca­pa­bil­i­ties of our re­gion while serv­ing prod­ucts of the very high­est qual­ity,” said ZahiKhouri, Founder and Chair­man of Na­tional Bev­er­age Com­pany. “The open­ing of our first Gaza plant is an im­por­tant mile­stone in this jour­ney and pro­vides great ev­i­dence of the tremen­dous com­mer­cial op­por­tu­nity that ex­ists.”

“Em­pow­ered with the spirit of lead­er­ship and with self-con­fi­dence, skill, and tal­ent, NBC has worked with part­ners on the ground to ex­pand its sup­ply chain from city-to-city and vil­lage to vil­lage in the West Bank, with a longterm hope and clear am­bi­tion to op­er­at­ing in Gaza,” said Imad Hindi, the Gen­eral Man­ager of NBC, “This new pro­duc­tive op­er­a­tion will even­tu­ally cre­ate thou­sands of di­rect and in­di­rect job op­por­tu­ni­ties to ad­dress un­em­ploy­ment chal­lenges and make a tan­gi­ble con­tri­bu­tion to the Gazan econ­omy.”

Ac­cred­ited with in­ter­na­tional qual­ity stan­dards and fol­low­ing Coca-Cola’s ro­bust global cer­ti­fi­ca­tions, the new Gaza bot­tling fa­cil­ity and dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter spans over 15,000 square me­ters and con­tains a sin­gle bot­tling line that is ca­pa­ble of fill­ing up to 36,000re­turn­able glass bot­tles per hour with Coca-Cola sparkling bev­er­ages.

The Coca-Cola bev­er­ages pro­duced in the new bot­tling plant will be dis­trib­uted in Gazan com­mu­ni­ties through 18 branded trucks which will move from city-to-city and from vil­lage-to-vil­lage.

Since 1998, NBC, The Coca-Cola Com­pany and The Coca-Cola Foun­da­tion have sup­ported dozens of com­mu­nity ini­tia­tives in­clud­ing an af­ter-school foot­ball pro­gram, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with PACES, which of­fered 10,000 Pales­tinian stu­dents with foot­ball coach­ing and life-skills train­ing. Ac­cess to com­puter labs has also been pro­vided for the first time for 27,000 Pales­tinian school stu­dents in ru­ral vil­lages through the “Lana Al Ghad” school.com project.

For the last five years, as­pir­ing Pales­tinian en­trepreneurs have also par­tic­i­pated in the Coca-Cola MENA Schol­ar­ship Pro­gram, at­tend­ing a month-long world-class busi­ness skills pro­gram in the United States cre­ated by Co­caCola, In­di­ana Univer­sity’s Global Busi­ness In­sti­tute and the US State De­part­ment. Re­cently, and as part of a com­mit­ment to en­vi­ron­men­tal stew­ard­ship, NBC has in­au­gu­rated a power gen­er­a­tion plant of pho­to­elec­tric cells in its head­quar­ters, which will gen­er­ate 320 kilo­watts of elec­tric­ity to meet 90% of the power needs of the head­quar­ters and main ware­houses of NBC.

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