Tuesday, June 16, known as ‘Youth Day’, marked one of our country’s most inspiring moments. On this day in 1976, thousands of Soweto schoolchildren raised their voices together in order to claim back their future, thereby sending out a message that a person is never too young to stand tall amongst others and impact history.

The Coca-Cola Company has always recognized the strength and contributions that Mzansi youth make to our nation, and take pride in initiating and partnering on projects that promote youth development. With this in mind, The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation (TCCAF) launched a powerful Pan-Africa Youth Empowerment initiative that will focus on one of Africa’s growing issues: unemployment.

Each year, between 10-12 million young Africans enter the work force, yet there is half that number of employment opportunities available. It is for this reason that The Youth

Empowered for Success (YES!) initiative was launched, an initiative that will support Africa’s economic and social advancement by empowering youth through access to sustainable job and entrepreneurship opportunities.

On June 4th, at the World Economic Forum held in Cape Town, TCCAF pledged US $4.5 million to YES!, and committed to empower at least 25,000 marginalized African youths by providing access to life and business skills training, mentorship, entrepreneurial guidance and financial services.

TCCAF and its implementing partners, Mercy Corps, Microsoft, Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator and Kuza Biashara, will launch sustainable and technology-enhanced programs in six countries - Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia and Uganda.

South Africa, Kenya and Tunisia are part of Phase One of the program. During the first three years, TCCAF aims to provide proof of concept for a scalable and replicable model with the ambition to reach 500,000 young Africans by 2020. This will be done by establishing strong partnerships with the private sector, NGO, government and civil society organizations. Our local target is to empower 5 000 young South Africans in Phase One.

“Harnessing the incredible energy and ambition of a young and growing population will be critical to Africa’s future economic advancement,” said Nathan Kalumbu, TCCAF Chairman. “The Youth Empowered for Success initiative presents an exciting framework to help drive truly transformational change for young people in Africa. The potential to connect young people with the right opportunities to build better lives while strengthening their communities is incredibly compelling.”

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, one of the world's most valuable and recognizable brands, our Company's portfolio features 17 billion-dollar brands including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply, Georgia and Del Valle. Globally, we are the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, ready-to-drink coffees, and juices and juice drinks. Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy our beverages at a rate of 1.9 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. Together with our bottling partners, we rank among the world's top 10 private employers with more than 700,000 system associates. For more information, visit Coca-Cola Journey at www.thecoca-colacompany.com, follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/CocaColaCo, visit our blog, Coca-Cola Unbottled, at www.coca-colablog.com or find us on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/the-coca-cola-company.