~Celebrate landmark enrolment of 500 VEERs by American India Foundation~

Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar, Hon’ble Minister of State for Social Justice & Empowerment, Venkatesh Kini, President, Coca-Cola India and South West Asia and M.A. Ravi Kumar, CEO, American India Foundation felicitate 75 VEER’s

AIF publishes First Impact Report of Campaign VEER

500 VEERs enrolled, 421 trained and 293 employed, as per AIF Report

Panel discussion on issues of people with disability, ways to encourage them and integrate them into the workplace

New Delhi, December 2, 2014: Thums Up Being Human VEER, an awareness and fundraising campaign on “Unleashing the Inner Potential of Persons with Disabilities” today celebrated VEER DAY by felicitating 75 Persons with Disabilities (PwD) called VEERs (Brave). Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar, Hon’ble Minister of State for Social Justice & Empowerment , Venkatesh Kini, President, Coca-Cola India and South West Asia and M.A. Ravi Kumar, CEO, American India Foundation were present on the occasion. Preceding World Disability Day, VEER DAY marked an important milestone for the campaign that celebrated the enrollment of 500 PwDs for education, skill training, employment and overall development. VEER partners – National Deaf Society, SNS Foundation and National Association for the Blind were also present at the occasion.

The VEERs as part of the Campaign have successfully ‘graduated’ through the program, displaying a combination of hard work and application of their abilities to the best possible extent. VEER works with differently abled people across India to give them a voice and an opportunity to fulfill their own ambition to the best of their ability. Through a mass media and engagement campaign, VEER aims to change the way people look at the differently abled and showcase the huge talent and potential waiting to be unleashed.

The American India Foundation(AIF), a core VEER implementation partner released the First Impact Report of the VEER campaign. The AIF Report highlights the work done by the VEER Campaign, since its launch earlier this year, including the types of programs under VEER, partner corporates and success stories.

Taking forward Thums Up’s toofani (thunderous) philosophy of unleashing the potential within, Campaign VEER, in association with its partners, has been reaching out to PwDs and corporates to bridge existing gaps in talent hunting and recruitment. The campaign has raised pledges worth INR 76 Lakhs so far.

The First Impact Report by AIF, also detailed the progress made by VEER campaign. Of the 500 VEERs enrolled under the campaign so far, 421 have been provided with adequate functional and skill development training required for multifarious industries including BPO & ITES, Digital Film Restoration, Hospitality and Physiotherapy etc. The training and subsequent placement efforts have led to placement of 293 VEERs with various corporates. The campaign partners continue to reach out and seek corporate for recruitment of VEERs.

Salman Khan, Thums Up Brand Ambassador and founder of the Being Human Foundation said “I wish this batch all the luck for the future. Many of you are on the threshold of starting your career and today is the day we celebrate your abilities and strengths. I would like to thank all our partners – Thums Up, AIF and CNN-IBN, the teachers and donors who have contributed towards the success of this campaign”.

Speaking on the occasion, Venkatesh Kini, President, Coca-Cola India and South West Asia, said, “The Thums Up philosophy of being passionate and strong is something that drives the VEER Campaign. Through this Campaign, we want to encourage all the differently abled to unleash their potential, be strong and overcome the barriers they face. It is fantastic that we have achieved the halfway mark and 500 differently abled people have been enrolled in VEER already. We have some great partners like Being Human and AIF on board and we hope to achieve the target of 1000 by next year for sure. I congratulate all the 75 VEER’s who have received completion certificates today and wish them to unleash their potential – Toofan sabke andar hota hai, bas dhakkan hatane ke deer hai!”

M.A. Ravi Kumar, Chief Executive Officer, AIF said, “At the American India Foundation, we have been working on the whole livelihood space for over six years. Through our Ability Based Livelihood Empowerment (ABLE) program, we are training persons with disabilities in fundamental and specialized skill sets. I’m personally delighted that AIF, together with Thums Up, Being Human and partner organizations, has successfully crossed the half-year milestone of the VEER Campaign and empowered youth with disabilities to lead dignified lives through gainful employment.”

A special panel discussion was also held with employers and other stakeholders towards addressing challengessuch as inclusive education and employment, skill training and development and advocating for disabled-friendly technology. The participants outlined roles that can be played by thegovernment, corporate, NGOs, policy makers and think tanks on the way forward to empower the ‘specially-abled’ of the country.

About Coca-Cola and Citizenship

The Coca-Cola Company has always placed high value on good citizenship. At the heart of business is a mission statement called the Coca-Cola Promise — “The Coca-Cola Company exists to benefit and refresh everyone that it touches.” This basic proposition means that the company’s business should refresh the markets, protect, preserve and enhance the environment and strengthen the community. Coca-Cola India provides extensive support for community programs across the country, with a focus on education, health and water conservation. For further information on Company’s India operations and its products, please visit www.coca-colaindia.com

About AIF

The American India Foundation (AIF) has been catalyzing social and economic change in India and building a lasting bridge between the United States and India, since 2001. Founded at the initiative of then President Bill Clinton, AIF has impacted the lives of more than 1.9 million of India’s poor through high-impact interventions in education, livelihoods, public health, and leadership development. Working closely with local communities, AIF partners with NGOs to develop and test innovative solutions and with governments to create and scale sustainable impact. Learn more at www.aif.org

About Being Human

Being Human Foundation is a registered charitable trust set up by Salman Khan for helping the cause of the underprivileged. The NGO sells merchandise like T-shirts and other products online and in stores. A portion of the sales go to a worthy cause supporting the underprivileged.The Foundation has two focus areas: Education and Healthcare. To increase the reach and corpus of the Foundation, Salman Khan has undertaken initiatives such as Being Human Art; Being Human merchandise; and Being Human Geetanjali Gold Coins. Learn more at http://www.beinghumanfoundation.in/