Gurgaon, 15th July 2014: Living up to its toofani message of unleashing the potential within, India’s most iconic brand Thums Up and Salman Khan’s Being Human Foundation, in association with the American India Foundation (AIF), today brought their collaborative initiative Campaign VEER to Gurgaon. VEER – Unleashing the Inner Potential of Persons with Disabilities – was launched in the country earlier this year. With the aim of reaching more than 1000 PwDs with skill training and employment opportunities, the campaign was today officially launched in Gurgaon with the first batch of hearing-impaired people who will be trained under the campaign, in association with NGO SNS Foundation.

The batch will be provided training in basic communication skills, computer skills and soft kills, amongst other to enhance employability and offered placement opportunities once the course ends. One of the tenets of the campaign is to raise advocacy on issues revolving around inclusiveness, employability of PwDs and workplace accessibility. Taking this forward, the event held today also witnessed a panel discussion on “Being An Inclusive Employer” – Discussing Inclusion at Workplace – Strategies, Challenges and Solutions.

Speaking about the initiative, Debabrata Mukherjee, VP-Marketing & Commercial, Coca-Cola India said, “We launched campaign VEER to take forward Thums Up’s philosophy of ‘unleashing the potential within’. There is a clear need in the country to bring specially-abled people into the mainstream and this requires a major change in mindset. This is what we are doing with VEER. It gives me great pleasure to welcome the first batch of people in Gurgaon to benefit under the campaign. I would like to thank our partners Being Human, AIF and SNS Foundation for all their support.”

M.A. Ravi Kumar, CEO of the American India Foundation said, “At the American India Foundation, we have been looking at the whole livelihood space for the last 8 years to make such people financially independent. We are delighted at the success this Veer campaign has had thus far, and are grateful to Thums Up, Being Human, and the SNS Foundation for their support. People with disabilities have the talent to pursue meaningful careers and play a role in India’s economic success. We look forward to employers who come forward to help the differently-abled join the engines that are driving our country’s economic growth.”

Speaking about the campaign, Alvira Agnihotri, Trustee, Being Human – The Salman Khan Foundation said “Today we bring the Veer campaign to Gurgaon. We’d like to thank all our partners who have played an integral part in making this campaign successful.”

Campaign VEER aims to address challenges such as inclusive education and employment, skill training and development, and advocating for disabled-friendly technology. With the support of AIF, the campaign is working at imparting vocational training to these individuals and ascertain their requirements so that they can be made job-ready. As outlined by AIF, INR 7,500 is all it takes to train an individual with disability to make him/her employable.

About Coca-Cola India

Coca-Cola India is one of the country’s leading beverage companies, offering a range of healthy, safe, high quality, refreshing beverage options to consumers. Over the last 20 years, ever since its re-entry in 1993, the company has been refreshing consumers with its beverage products – Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Thums Up, Fanta, Limca, Sprite, Maaza, Minute Maid range of juices, Georgia and Georgia gold range of hot and cold tea and coffee options, Kinley and Bonaqua packaged drinking water, Kinley Club Soda and BURN. The Company along with its bottling partners, through a strong network of over 2.2 million retail outlets, touches the lives of millions of consumers, at a rate of more than 500 servings per second. Its brands are some of the most preferred and most sold beverages in the country – Thums Up and Sprite – being the top two selling sparkling beverages.

The Coca-Cola system in India has registered 31 consecutive quarters of growth, 19 of them being double digit. It believes in the long term growth potential of the country and this system is committed to invest US$ 5 billion in its operations between 2012 and 2020. The system already provides direct employment to 24,000 people and indirect employment to 150,000 people.

The Coca-Cola system in India is contributing in its own small way to building sustainable communities and reducing its own environmental footprint. Some of our community development programs include the ‘Parivartan’ and ‘Pragati’ retailer training program, Career Development centers to train youth and make them employable, women empowerment program as a part of the global 5BY20 campaign, Unnati – a sustainable mango farming project etc. For further information on the company’s India operations and its products, please visit: www.coca-colaindia.com.

About AIF

The American India Foundation is committed to catalyzing social and economic change in India and building a lasting bridge between the United States and India through high-impact interventions in education, livelihoods, public health, and leadership development, with a particular emphasis on empowering girls and women to achieve gender equity. Working closely with local communities, AIF partners with NGOs to develop and test innovative solutions and with governments to create and scale sustainable impact. Founded in 2001 at the initiative of President Bill Clinton, AIF has impacted the lives of more than 1.9 million of India’s poor and aims to reach 5 million by 2018. Learn more at www.AIF.org.