Coca-Cola under SBI remains the biggest foreign direct investment (at the time) in the country’s history
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As Somaliland celebrated its 28th year since parting ways with Somaliland last week, President Muse Bihi sent an invitation to corporates worldwide to venture into the country and invest.
But one company that has maintained its confidence in Somaliland is Coca Cola.
Some 40 kilometers from the capital Hargeisa in Jalelo, the Somaliland Beverage Industries (SBI) Coca-Cola company has offered employment not only to locals but also expatriates who offer the much needed technical assistance and know-how in production and management.
Coca-Cola under SBI remains the biggest foreign direct investment (at the time) in the country’s history.
It is 100 percent owned by a family business of Somalilanders and was opened at an initial investment of $15 million.
The bottling plant in Somaliland is part of a plan to win more African consumers by the Coca-Cola Company.
SBI, a member of Laas Group, has helped Somaliland build manufacturing capacity.
In addition to the Coca Cola plant, the group has also invested in Lis Dairies, a state of the art dairy plant in partnership with Tetra Pak.
Newly created jobs not only provide a chance for these local graduates to build a sustainable career but also gave hope to thousands of other students right across the country.
SBI also expanded to mineral water with the flagship brand Dasani now one of the top brands in Somaliland.
SBI and Coca Cola Africa foundation also designed and invested in a CSR water distribution network to the city of Burao – Somaliland’s second largest city in the Togdheer region.
Jacob Obiero, a Kenyan took what he terms as a tough decision to relocate to Somaliland and head the factory operations.
Obiero is the plant manager of the Laas Group factories in Somaliland.
“At first, I was very skeptical about coming to Somaliland. My fear was this is a country at war but I was shocked when I arrived here,” Obiero says.
SBI IMPACT ON COMMUNITIES
Prior to SBI, Coca Cola fizzy drink products were imported in masses from neighboring Yemen and Ethiopia via multiple spot traders.
SBI recruited overseas technical and operations staff – by tapping into skills from the diaspora.
The company was able to entice highly skilled personnel to come to Somaliland where they could train local workers.
The company also brought in local graduates from local colleges and universities.
He says he loves the place and the many opportunities in different sectors found in Somaliland not only in the manufacturing but also in all other sectors.
“SBI has opened the manufacturing industry in this country. We are now seeing other companies coming up. The rebuilding of the port of Berbera is another big story in this country,” Obiero adds.
He said the company has transformed the lives of the poor locals.
The community has benefited in the form of employment in capability development where 90 percent is locals,” he observes.
One of the locals is Abdirahman Ibrahim, the production manager was lucky to be selected in Hargeisa to go and study in Malaysia by the group.
He came back and was offered a job, and with time has risen to the ranks to become the production manager at SBI.
Somaliland considers itself an independent state but internationally recognized as a breakaway from Somalia.
Coca-Cola has also at the same time Provided Clean Water for over 50,000 People in Somaliland – thanks to a partnership between the Hargeisa Water Agency (HWA), the Somaliland Ministry of Water Resources, The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, the European Union, UNICEF, Somaliland Beverage Industries (SBI) and Terre Solidali.
Low-Cost, efficient and safe water storage and distribution system have been installed, featuring water-vending kiosks, helping for the very first time to secure an essential human right to clean drinking water.
“We never used to get enough water because it was very expensive,” said Safia Yusuf Isse, one of the kiosk operators.
“This new kiosk will have a huge impact. As mothers, we only used to get water from the tankers if we had large tanks of our own. Now, we can get the water we need at a price we can afford.”