It was an unexpected call. Or in this case, email. Coca-Cola got in touch, telling us a bit about the work it has done in Nepal for disaster relief in the wake of the devastating 2015 earthquake and about its 5by20 programme, empowering women in small entrepreneurship across its supply chain. They were taking a group of bloggers to see what these projects entail and the effect they’re having: Would BritMums like to go?
Our first response: Oh YES! From a traveller’s perspective, visiting Nepal has always been a dream, to experience the sights and smells of Kathmandu, the warm hospitality of the people, the gorgeous landscape.
But here was also the opportunity to see how a corporation like Coca-Cola is having an impact.
Disclosure: Coca-Cola would be providing travel, accommodations and all expenses in Nepal. We considered our role there was as a reporter, with posts informed by our own experiences and opinions.
Here’s why this work and this trip are important
It’s easy to be cynical about the work corporations do in developing communities like those in Nepal. “They’re just burnishing their reputations and trying to sell more flavoured fizzy drinks,” some folks have said to me.
But personally we believe this kind of work is vital. By actively investing in the countries where they operate, Coca-Cola helps demonstrate the importance of corporate social responsibility. The more companies that do this, the better. By taking bloggers to see what they’re doing, they demonstrate the real stories behind the press releases.
Additionally, there are 4 reasons why we’re excited to take part in the trip and what we’re eagerly looking forward to seeing:
- The personal aspect of Coca-Cola’s efforts. In the immediate wake of the earthquake, in addition to donating money to the Red Cross, a team provided aid and relief to Nepalese workers and their families as well as those households near the bottling plant. We’ll be hearing more about what happened on the ground after their massive event.
- The tangible differences that are being made now. In an earthquake-affected village of Bhurunchuli, Coca-Cola is supporting the construction of a bathhouse for women and additional bathrooms at schools (Nepal experienced a cholera outbreak after the earthquake because of the collapse of the sanitation system – such a vital part of health and wellbeing). We’ll be going and seeing how this village is coping.
- Women’s empowerment in Nepal. Even our Lonely Planet guidebook says, “Women have a hard time of it in Nepal”. The 5by20 initiative is working to help economically empower 5 million women across Coca-Cola’s supply chain. We’ll be finding out how they do it here.
- What recycling means here. In London,we drop our plastic Coca-Cola bottles into the recycling bin. In Nepal we’ll be seeing how the corporation turns to the necessary work of recycling PET bottles and works with a non-profit that helps disadvantaged young women — paying them a fair price for recycling bottles and also offering training, children’s scholarships and more.
So BritMums is setting off. Our cofounder Jennifer Howze has a backpack full of photo and video equipment, a laptop, her trusty smartphone, and her first-ever pair of hiking trousers.
Follow the story and share your reactions to it across social media. We’d love to hear your thoughts over the coming week as we see a side of Nepal we would never get to as a tourist.
We’ll be using two hashtags: #NepalNow and #5by20.
You’ll find us on:
- Twitter: @BritMums and @JHowze
- Instagram: @BritMums and @JHowze
- Facebook: @BritMums and @Jenography
- And here on the blog
Let us know what you think and please spread the word!
Disclsoure: Coca-Cola is providing travel, accommodations and all expenses in Nepal. As always, all opinions are our own.