Cola-Cola and Nepal: 51 years of togetherness (video)

KATHMANDU: I happened to be from Nepal. And, I am very proud to be a part of the Nepal Investment Summit 2024. I would like to thank the Nepal Investment Board and the ministry for inviting me. It’s a privilege to represent Coca-Cola Company in the Nepal Investment Summit.

Coca-Cola as a company has been operating in Nepal for over 50 years. In fact, this is our 51st year. We are obviously very much committed to the socioeconomic progress of Nepal. I want to start by sharing a little bit of our story. We started in 1973. We are very much part of the country’s social and economic fabric. We are probably one of the biggest FMCG companies along with our counterparts here in the panel. We started five decades ago.

As an American company during those days, it was a bold move because you know the institutional value chain and logistics were not fully developed at that time. But we had confidence in Nepal. And, for over five decades, the company has developed a very strong partnership. We have two bottling plants. One in Kathmandu and the other one in Bharatpur.

We also have various ways of developing and celebrating on occasions across millions of people in Nepal. Through our drinks, our brands, we have celebrated with families with national events creating lasting memories and forging meaningful connections amongst the Nepali people. We have been investing. Just in the last few years, we invested 80 million dollars, and we will continue to invest. Coca-Cola is among one of the highest taxpayers in the country. We have over 240 distributors, 125,000 retail outlets across the country and we have direct and indirect employment of more than 6000 employees.

I would like to explain a little bit about what I mean by that. When we have a FMCG company, my respected colleague is here as well, he will explain further to you, every one personnel that we have in our facilities, in our offices, is equivalent to ten more because we have transportation networks, we have supply chain networks, we have our retailer networks and literally every retailer when we give a cooler and we do the training, we make them into entrepreneurs, small, medium, big. That’s what we do as manufacturing. When you manufacture at FMCG level, you also create works for the blue color workers not just for the white collar workers which is very very important in a country like Nepal.

Coca-Cola is not just that. It is also a very responsible business. We supported the people of Nepal throughout the times of 2015 earthquake with our ‘Feri Uthnechha Nepal’. We also did projects to stop the spread during the COVID. And, we have the Coca-Cola Foundation which is based out of Atlanta and every year we support many many projects in terms of sustainable access to water, climate resilience, the circular economy, which basically, means waste management, and specifically plastic waste management, economic empowerment, to not just our retailers but also to women across Nepal. And, we respond to disasters, whether its in Jajarkot or across Nepal.

The Coca-Cola Foundation has not just worked with international NGOs but with Nepalese NGOs for a very long time. In fact, for the last three years from 2021 to 2023, we were proud to be a partner and sponsor of the mountain clean-up program with the Nepalese Army. We also support the development of Nepal into a developing nation by 2026. Nepal urgently requires foreign investment for the youth demographics and drive innovations.

For companies like ours that are driven by consumption, we are losing talent when Nepalese go across. Therefore, we must ensure that we create a positive environment for companies like ours to continue investing and generating employment opportunities. At this point, what I would like to say that they have done amazing things especially the Nepal Investment Board to promote investment presently. And, this summit is an incredible opportunity for the government to pitch Nepal not only to the Nepalis, not just to our neighborhood but across to the international investors.

In closing, I and Coca-Cola would like to thank the organizers for bringing this industry together and we look forward to supporting a future-ready and prosperous Nepal. Namaskar and Dherai Dherai Dhanyawad.

(Excerpts from the speech during the first day of Nepal Investment Summit 2024. Devyani Rajya Laxmi Rana is Vice-President of Public Affairs, Communications, and Sustainability at Coca-Cola India and Southwest Asia.)

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