Kevin Works with World Renew to ‘Change the Story’15th February, 2016
A sea of women wearing bright red Coca-Cola baseball caps greeted our man in Malaysia, Rudi Towiro, when he arrived on the island of Borneo to shoot a video for the company's corporate social responsibility (CSR) department. Though already an experienced cinematographer and photographer with shoots on a range of development topics under his belt, he says that this was one of his more interesting reportage assignments.
These enthusiastic women had just completed a business enterprise training course delivered by Project SURI. The training and mentoring programme is part of Coca-Cola's '5by20' initiative, which aims to empower 5 million women worldwide by 2020 through improving their business skills. At the national level, Coca-Cola's CSR team has been working with the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development to reach their target of supporting 20,000 Malay women, predominantly in the Bornean state of Sabah. Coca-Cola enlisted Robin Wyatt Vision to document the success of their project in a short film.
"This assignment was both exhilarating and inspiring", reflects Rudi. "I had a very short timeframe in which to travel, meet the beneficiaries and capture the right shots, but luckily I enjoy fast-paced work!" As a visual storyteller, Rudi's strength lies in his honest appreciation for the diverse experiences of people from cultures different to his own, which comes unusually naturally to him. He was thriving in his capacity to portray people's hopes and dreams through positive imagery during this assignment, as he skilfully wove their improved future prospects into the visual narrative. "These women were very much aware that they're getting a unique opportunity, and they couldn't say enough about how much their grocery businesses and restaurants have grown as a result of the training", he explains. "I really wanted to capture their enthusiasm, because it was clear that they had gained such a boost of confidence by participating in SURI".
As an Australian of nearby Indonesian descent, Rudi was also moved and inspired by the sense of community here. Many of the female entrepreneurs are in their 40s, 50s and 60s with retired husbands and adult children to support; starting a business alone can obviously be a stressful and challenging experience under such circumstances. Yet SURI has clearly brought them together into a supportive network and given them continual guidance.
Watch Rudi's video for yourself by clicking the play button.
Rudi has made humanitarian and development photography his specialism since 2013, when he successfully crafted a series of challenging narratives on the Khmer people of Cambodia. Since then, he has documented stories of social inclusion, agricultural transformation and rural education for such clients as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and Australian NGO See Beyond Borders.