Coca-Cola Beverages Vietnam, Ltd. recently welcomed six bloggers to Vietnam for a first-hand look at Coke’s innovative efforts to give back to the community and empower women entrepreneurs with its EKOCENTERs.

When I was asked to join the bloggers in Vietnam to write about the remarkable work Coca-Cola is doing in the country, I was thrilled to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. I knew it would be a memorable trip… ait was not only that but much more. The country is incredible, but the people are even more amazing – welcoming each of us with open arms. 

I was excited about particularly because I am an advocate of women’s empowerment. On the first day, we heard from a women’s leadership panel about how Coca-Cola has inspired them. Coca-Cola allows them to have work-life balance, and they feel like they are truly empowered and the sky is the limit. I loved the advice they gave us to succeed: to believe in ourselves, unlock our fears and be willing to step out of our comfort zones.

And they’ve done just that. Today they are all leaders in Coca-Cola Beverages Vietnam, Ltd.

We also heard from a young woman who was nominated by Coca-Cola to be part of the Women in Business Program. The three-day program focuses on sales, customer service and financial skills to help manage a business. She runs a cosmetic business that is now more successful because of what she learned in the program.

While you’ve heard a lot about the EKOCENTERs, one of the things that I love most is how it provides the opportunity for women in the community to help support their families and teaches them business fundamentals. They can then take those same skills and start their own business.

Again, these are just a few things that Coca-Cola is doing to empower women, and I’m proud to work for a company that understand the value of investing in women.

While in Vietnam, I also enjoyed touring Cu Chi Tunnel and learning more about the country's history and the Vietnam War. We were able to go in the actual tunnels the Vietnamese soldiers used (I was a bit scared to go in the first one as they are quite small!). Our tour guide helped us understand the true impact of the war and the different survival techniques.

The people of the country are simply amazing. They are hard-working, fearless and passionate. Each person I met was more than eager to tell me more about themselves. The women in the empowerment programs were so proud of what they have accomplished. I think that pride, more than anything, is what stands out to me about Vietnam (and the food!). And, not only is that pride shown by those women, it’s shown by everyone in the local communities.

As I think about this trip, I learned to always believe in my abilities and what I can accomplish. These women taught me that we are valued and we matter. And, at the end of the day, we should always be proud of who we are and what we do. That’s the true essence of the people of Vietnam.