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Diaspora News
01

By Sulaiman Jalloh

 

In an effort to boost the economy and expand job opportunities for citizens, Sonoco Sierra Leone is spearheading a fifty-million-dollar ($50m) investment, a new chapter for economic development and growth opportunity for the country.

Engaging the media on Wednesday, March 27th, 2024, at Bread Avenue in the east end of Freetown, Mark Pritchard, the General manager of Sonoco said his company is spearheading a state-of-the-art flour mill at the port, cline town, east end of Freetown, saying it will be completed before the end of 2024, adding that after construction, they will be able to provide direct employment for about eight hundred to one thousand young people in the country.

“The good thing about the factory and the mill is that it will not only serve the local market, but will also export to neighboring countries like Liberia and so on,” he disclosed, while pointing out that just after Bread Avenue, they have two other factories that are under construction, one which he said will be for pastry production and the other for tomato base production which will be in operation in the first quarter of 2025.

Mr. Pritchard said Bread Avenue is providing high quality of food and beverages and has attracted many customers, saying there will soon be bread avenue store, something which he said has started in Sierra Leone and will be extended to neighboring countries.

According to the general manger, they are also running a bread avenue academy, noting they had discussed with the government on the need for the bread avenue academy, especially in the area of bakery, pastry and entrepreneurship. He added that their first intake students are ninety that runs with three shifts: morning, afternoon and evening hours running for five days a week; each shift he said consists of thirty students.

He said the courses are divided into two: theory and practical, noting that the course runs for six months with a zero cost on learners, something he said is part of their corporate social responsibility. He continued that, at the end of the course, his company will provide seed capital to the best performing students with internationally recognized certificates.

“…we are trying to bring young people who have left school as this is an alternative to going to university to study academics,” he said, stressing that the courses are free of charge.

Madam Kadiatu Marie Akafo is the lead teacher at bread avenue academy. She told journalists that the academy teaches young people about flour production, saying they give quality teachings with different kinds of products, while emphasizing that every ingredient and menu the academy provides is for the learning of the students.

Mariatu Jalloh, a student expressed gratitude to the management of Sonoco, noting she has learnt how to make different products like bread, rock-buck, chapatti, among others. She said upon graduation, she intends to open her own business and employ other people with skills to give employment opportunities to her fellow youths.

On his part, Sheik Mohammed Lamrana Bah, an Islamic leader in the operational area of the company, shared some of the positive impacts of Bread Avenue and Sonoco on the surrounding communities, especially they as Muslims as they observe Ramadan [month of fasting for Muslims], saying the food received from the bread avenue academy has benefited most of them. He assured the management of Sonoco of community protection of the investment, while encouraging young people to make good use of the opportunity.

The public relations officer of the National Council for Technical Vocational and other Academic Awards (NCTVA), Oladapo Coulson-Olowu said they accredited bread avenue because of the quality education being given to students, noting as an institution, they believe that bread avenue will increase employability for the younger population, efficiency and sustainable development.