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The Opportunity of a Lifetime… a Lifetime of Opportunity: A Conversation With Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation President-Elect Jane Hale Hopkins

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Jane Hale Hopkins (right) will succeed J. Mark Davis as president of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation later this year.

 

“From an early age, I knew I wanted my profession to be a calling of purpose,” says Jane Hale Hopkins, president-elect of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. “I went to a liberal arts college where training of the heart, as well as training of the mind, was preached and prioritized.”

 

Jane Hale Hopkins

Hopkins, who will succeed J. Mark Davis later this year, joined the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation in 2001 as a finance manager. She’d spent time in New York City after college working on a master’s in public administration from NYU and co-founding a nonprofit called Serve It Up, a community service-minded network of young professionals. The Lexington, Kentucky native was eyeing a return to her native South when she launched a job search in the pre-social media, pre-smartphone era.

“I remember going to the New York Public Library every Sunday afternoon to get on a computer and access the weekly job blast from the Southeastern Council of Foundations,” she recalls. “There were always jobs in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, but eventually one came up at a Fortune 500 company in Atlanta.”

Davis was especially impressed with Hopkins’ involvement with Serve it Up, which aligned with the mission of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. They met in New York on Nov. 7, 2000, the night of the infamous Bush/Gore presidential election.

“I remember being really excited after the interview, then coming home and sitting up all night watching the results come in on TV,” she said.

She had the job a few weeks later and, over the last 17 years, she has worked to develop an influential community of socially conscious and service-minded Coca-Cola Scholar leaders who share a passion for making a difference. Now, she’s poised to take over the reins in a milestone year as the Foundation celebrates its 30thclass.

We spoke with Hopkins ahead of the third-annual Coca-Cola Scholars Leadership Summit in Atlanta to learn more about her vision for the future of the Foundation.

 

Jane with Harvard Scholars

Hopkins (second from left) with Coca-Cola Scholars at Harvard University.

Why is now an exciting time to be stepping into this role?

This is truly an opportunity of a lifetime. Winning the Coca-Cola Program scholarship is an opportunity of a lifetime for a high school senior. From there, it’s also finding and identifying equally incredible opportunities throughout your lifetime like this one. We’re at a really special place in the history of the Foundation. We’ve been doing this for 30 years and have stayed true to our mission to reward future leaders in the communities where we do business with a four-year college scholarship. But what Mark started was this idea of building a community. The scholarship is really important, of course, but it’s also the ongoing engagement we provide. Coke Scholars are all extraordinary individuals. But together as a network, they become a really powerful catalyst for positive change. That’s why we not only identify the brightest minds in the country, but take steps to nurture those relationships over the years. And now, 30 years in, we have a network of 6,000 Scholars.

What will be your initial priorities?

We’re embarking on a journey from a transactional organization to a transformational organization. We’re thinking really intentionally about how we want to continue to show up in these leaders’ lives. We’re developing a roadmap for how Scholars engage with the Foundation to ensure we’re meeting them where they are throughout their lives. We want to clearly articulate what Scholars can expect to get and what they can expect to give back.

When we bring Scholars to Atlanta every April for Scholars Weekend, we do a full Leadership Development Institute. We teach four key values of leadership: self-awareness, empathy, inspiration, and vision. The idea is to teach them a leadership framework from the inside out, so they’re reflecting on themselves or understanding themselves. We bring in 30 Scholar alumni to teach the curriculum. It becomes a check-in for them – to ensure the values that were important to them as high school seniors and that helped them win the scholarship continue to show up as they evolve. We want to continue to be a reminder of those values as they leave college and embark on their careers and start families.

We also will spend time identifying strategic partners around the country and world to help us advance our mission. Finally, we want to intertwine Coca-Cola Scholars more closely with our brands in ways our company and bottlers can pick up on easily.

 

Scholars Group

Hopkins with Scholars at the 2016 Coca-Cola Scholars Service Summit in Austin, Texas.

What sets the Coca-Cola Scholars Program apart from other scholarships?

A competitive advantage for us is the sense of family. At Coca-Cola, the people truly make the magic. And I think we’ve been able to extend that magic to our community of Scholars. Mark always says, “We want to be part of their lives as long as they’ll have us.”

How do you measure success of the Coca-Cola Scholars Program?

For some scholarship programs, retention or graduation rates are the primary measures of success. For us, we select 150 of the brightest minds in the country. They graduate. So from there, you start thinking about how to define network strength and influence. And I’m not sure that we’ve totally figured out how to do that yet. We got some really good data from an impact survey we did about a year ago. For example, over 80 percent of the Scholars we surveyed said the Scholars community is one of the top three professional networks they belong to. Engagement is another key metric for us. We want to keep as many Scholars connected to the community long after they graduate.

How would you describe your leadership style?

My goal with everyone is to connect each person on our team with their purpose and help make others better even when I’m not around. I’m not an overly hands-on leader… I’m very trusting. We have a great team committed to the values we’ve instituted within the Leadership Development Institute. Personally, I’m always on a quest to learn more about myself and continually reinvent myself and show up as a better version in my life. That’s really important to me. I’m an avid reader and journaler, and I’m very disciplined in my athletic endeavors. I run and practice Pilates and hot yoga – which all helps keep the snakes out of my head.

Tell us about the third-annual Coca-Cola Scholars Leadership Summit that kicked off yesterday and runs through the weekend.

The goal is to bring Scholars together in a way that inspires them to bring positive change to their communities. We’re expecting around 450 Scholars this weekend. We’ll have a mix of outside speakers and Scholars, and several breakout sessions. Anytime we put this many Scholars in a room, we like to say magic happens. All of our lives are elevated. So it’s a chance for them to learn from each other, hear about what others are doing in their communities, and hopefully leave inspired to take action.

 

-Coca-Cola Company

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NGOs - SDGs

Nestlé launches RE Pilot Project to empower informal waste reclaimers in Tembisa, Gauteng

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In celebration of National Recycling Week and Let’s Do It World Clean-up Day 2021, Nestlé East & Southern Africa Region joined forces with Kudoti, a waste tech start-up, to launch its ‘RE-Imagine Tomorrow’ pilot project in Tembisa to demonstrate how the circular economy is a viable solution for tackling the waste problem.

By working with Kudoti and Destination Green, the implementation partner and buy back centre, Nestlé will enable 100 waste reclaimers to use technology to track the amount of waste collected and find buyers through Kudoti’s technology platform and network. The waste collectors will be empowered and trained on how to make an income and will receive a monthly stipend through a subsidy by Nestlé.  Training will include business and finance education to equip the waste reclaimers to further boost their incomes along with the provision of physical resources such as protective gear.  One of the other elements contributed by Nestlé will be the purchase of a forklift to further assist the operation in the long run.

The ‘RE-Imagine Tomorrow’ pilot project will be a phased intervention for the community of Mqantsa, Tembisa. The beginning of the phase is about awakening a focused increase of waste collection through the informal waste reclaimers. Engage will include educating the community on rethinking their relationship with waste and reducing their own waste footprint.  Finally, the sustain phase will bring to life repurposing by creating beauty out of waste for the benefit of the community through public furniture created from the waste collected. The circular economy model aims to use waste streams as secondary resources and recover waste for reuse and recycling. This approach is expected to achieve efficient economic growth while minimising negative environmental impact.

Saint-Francis Tohlang, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Director at Nestlé East and Southern Africa Region (ESAR),adds . “Informal waste reclaimers play an important role in the management of waste. It is important that we appreciate their role as heroes and find ways in which we can empower them further as we strive for a waste free future. This pilot project is part of our broader RE sustainability initiative which focuses on the pillars of rethink reduce and repurpose. Through working with a tech start-up, waste collectors, recyclers and the community, we believe we are engaging key stakeholders in the waste management cycle to be able to RE-imagine tomorrow. We hope that through this pilot project our partners and the community of Tembisa will see that there are opportunities that can be found in what we see as waste.”

The RE initiative encourages society to RETHINK, REDUCE and REPURPOSE. The RETHINK pillar is about encouraging broader society to rethink its relationship with the environment. Nestlé will educate the public about ways to change their behaviour to serve the environment through responsible practices such as recycling. The REDUCE pillar highlights Nestlé’s commitment towards reducing its environmental impact to zero carbon emissions by 2030. Lastly, the REPURPOSE pillar focuses on upcycling and reusing materials which are crucial to driving a circular economy.

“Through this initiative, we hope to drive a paradigm shift by formulating and implementing solutions that will safeguard the environment. We hope that initiatives such as RE will encourage people not only in Tembisa, but across the country, to play their part and RETHINK, REDUCE and REPURPOSE,” concluded Tohlang.

Members of the community and over 20 waste reclaimers, along with Nestlé, Kudoti, Destination Green and members of the media took part in a clean-up in Mqantsa, Tembisa on the day to strengthen its collective contribution to a waste-free future for the community.

 

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NGOs - SDGs

Innovative partnerships needed to tackle climate related disasters

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Drought Image (Supplied)

The devastating crisis in Madagascar sounds a stark warning of the need to take urgent action for Africa according to Ibrahima Cheikh Diong, Director General of the African Risk Capacity Group.

“Drought may well be the next pandemic after COVID-19 and there’s no vaccine to cure it.” If the words of Mami Mizutori, the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction don’t compel us to take immediate action, Africa will continue to bear the scars of barren wastelands caused by climate change-induced drought. Southern Africa, East Africa, the Horn of Africa and now Madagascar are just the start. The short-term solution to building resilience requires a multi-faceted approach involving both private and public sectors, says Diong.

“Our affiliate, ARC Ltd, which recently received a BBB+ Insurer Financial Strength rating from Fitch, works with governments, NGOs and funders to provide customised parametric insurance. This  empowers African governments and NGOs to respond swiftly to natural disasters on the continent, but there’s a lot of work that needs to go into building distribution networks to ensure that we can reach as many people as possible. We need to build a coalition of the private and public sector,” Diong adds.

While governments are key in dealing with resilience to climate change, it’s the ability of the private sector to take action that will make all the difference, he says.

“Partnerships should extend beyond governments. The private sector is an essential partner for leveraging funding and experience demonstrates that private-sector entities are capable of rapidly taking up opportunities when and if these make sense from a business angle.”

There are several examples where a collaborative approach is already working well. Diong cites ARC Group’s partnerships with organisations such as the Start Network and World Food Programme (WFP), and funders such as the German Development Bank, UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and African Development Bank which are working to provide that resilience for African countries.

Shifting the disaster risk architecture

Emily Jones, as Climate and Disaster Risk Financing Advisor for WFP, highlights the challenges of convincing authorities to be more proactive than reactive when preventing human suffering and hardship when events like drought occur.

“Unfortunately, no one person or organisation can make the necessary shift alone. Change starts with building resilience and insurance plays a significant role in that, particularly in climate change,” says Jones.

Governments pay a premium every year and receive their agreed-upon pay-out if and when a predicted disaster occurs. “This money can then be used to help those people affected, with the remainder of the pay-out going towards covering other consequences that might not have been expected, such as conflict or a loss of progress in terms of important local development projects,” she says.

“Humanitarians are working on highlighting the need to predict crises and act before they manifest in an effort to avoid human suffering. After all, why wait if you don’t have to?”

Jones speaks about how most authorities in African countries perceive insurance as a gamble when it should rather be seen as a risk management tool. Unfortunately, many simply don’t have the necessary tools available to plan, which is where ARC comes in.

“It’s amazing that ARC Limited is offering this type of insurance. However, insurance is really only cost-effective for catastrophic events that happen infrequently – perhaps once every 10 years – and if the governments that they’re selling the insurance to don’t have other solutions, they’re going to be taking out insurance that’s less than optimal,” Jones explains.

“So, something that WFP, ARC, and the African Development Bank wants to work on in the coming years is a risk-layering approach. This would involve introducing other tools for coping with those medium-scale events so that we can optimise ARC and hopefully offer better products, as well as ensure improved buy-in, a greater understanding of the products’ importance, and a track record of success,” she adds.

Responding swiftly to natural disasters

Since ARC Limited was established in 2014, the company has paid out $65-million in drought-relief efforts to seven different countries.

“In particular, the collaboration between the African Development Bank and ARC shows how coming together makes a major difference. In 2020, the ARC drought-relief pay-outs to Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Côte d’Ivoire totalled $6-million,” says Diong.

Madagascar received a payment of over $2,1-million, which was allocated to food assistance for 15,000 households, nutritional support to 2,000 children and 1,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women, and water supplies to over 84,000 households.

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Reaching the most vulnerable, however, is difficult, adds Malvern Chirume, Chief Underwriting Officer ARC Limited.  “One of the big challenges is access to the final customer, bearing in mind that most of our beneficiaries of the programmes are small- to medium-scale farmers and therefore it’s not cost-effective to access them one at a time.” 

With climate change, we can expect extreme weather events to hit harder and more frequently in coming years. In a 1.5 degree warmer world, there is no doubt that drought will be a more regular event.

The GAR Special Report on Drought 2021 launched earlier this year is a call to action: we must act now if we are to meet the goals of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and create a safer, more resilient, risk-proofed future for all.

“Drought is not something that hits us suddenly, nor something that we can quarantine our way out of. Drought manifests over months, years, sometimes decades, and the results are felt just as long. Drought exhibits and exacerbates the social and economic inequalities that are deep-rooted within our systems and hits the most vulnerable the hardest,” says Chirume.

“While we may not be able to prevent it, we can certainly be prepared to deal with its impact by building resilience and providing swift support to those who are left vulnerable.”

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Corporate Citizenship

Fawry, AWEF, Unilever and LEAD Foundation celebrate the continued success of the “Heya Fawry” initiative

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In line with its mission to empower Egyptian women, the leading digital transformation and e-payment network Fawry has just announced the expansion of the Heya Fawry initiative to increase poor and disadvantaged women’s access to life-enhancing digital financial services and greater economic opportunities.

Now on its third consecutive year, Heya Fawry’s expansion was made possible thanks to cross-sector collaboration between Fawry, Unilever, Lead Foundation and funding support from the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) via the Arab Women’s Entreprise Fund Program (AWEF). The initiative aims to help women gain access to greater job opportunities by becoming Heya Fawry agents, while providing life-enhancing financial services to predominantly unbanked female customers. Ultimately, Heya Fawry creates new revenue streams for low-income women who can now further contribute to their household’s income well-being while participating to the Egyptian economy.

“We are pleased with the great continued success that Heya Fawry has achieved, as well as its contribution to improve the conditions of low-income and disadvantaged women in Egypt.” We also stand with the Egyptian government to accelerate digital transformation and promote financial inclusion said Ahmed Fahmy, Head of Partnerships at Fawry.

“While AWEF may have served as a catalyst to promote women’s economic empowerment and inclusion, it was only due to the commitment, vision and dedication of its partners that the “Heya Fawry” initiative has reached this level of success,” said Yomna Mustafa, Country Director at AWEF.

Islam Abdel-Raouf, Alexandria regional sales and Emerging Channels Sector Manager at Unilever, said that “Unilever is proud to participate in this distinguished initiative for the third year in a row. Unilever provides products to Heya Fawry agents, but we also work on developing their marketing & management capabilities, to ensure sustainable incomes.

As part of the second phase of the initiative, Heya Fawry was joined by Lead Foundation, a preeminent Egyptian Microfinance Institution, which designed a dedicated Heya Fawry Microfinance Program and avails microloans to selected beneficiaries, via digital means “Believing in our mission to provide poor & low-income entrepreneurs, with sustainable access to quality microfinance services that address their needs, Lead Foundation saw in Heya Fawry a great opportunity that will suit the needs of ambitious female micro entrepreneurs who work from home or manage a shop.” added Sandy Salama, Marketing and Communications Manager at Lead Foundation.

The first phase of the initiative built upon synergies between four “Core Partners”, Fawry, AWEF, AXA Insurance who offered medical and life insurance services free of charge for 3 years, as well as Unilever, who trained Heya Fawry agents to become successful retailers of well-known home care, beauty and food brands.

To date, the initiative successfully provided more than 300 job opportunities for female agents who allowed thousands of unbanked consumers, predominantly female, to conduct approximately 300 thousand e-payment transactions (of a total value worth EGP 10 million). The initiative offered support to Egyptian women in the poorest areas in Cairo, Giza, Assiut, Fayoum and Minya, by financing the initial capital needed to become an Fawry agent and raising their capabilities as micro-entrepreneurs. The initiative not only seeks to enhance women’s digital and financial skills but also their ability to successfully manage projects, secure profits and expand their networks.

Ultimately, this initiative is in line with Egypt’s strategy and 2030 vision to aid small investors and traders and boost the plan of digital transformation and financial inclusion. Going forward, Heya Fawry partners also announced their plan to expand the scope of work available in order to include more women under the next Heya Fawry iteration.

 

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