ATLANTA – In 2010, the Georgia based company, Coca-Cola, launched an innovative economic empowerment initiative for women in the developing world – 5by20. 5by20 aims to enable the economic empowerment of 5 million women entrepreneurs across Coca-Cola’s global value chain by 2020. It is part of a growing trend by major corporations to partner with grassroots organizations to achieve their business goals while empowering people of the developing world.
For Coca-Cola, it’s a beneficial strategy because investing in people of the developing world also translates into more business in the long run. After 127 years in business, Coca-Cola developed the world’s largest beverage distribution system, spanning over 200 countries at a rate of 1.8 billion servings a day.
Coca-Cola is focusing on women entrepreneurship because when women have equal rights as men and equal access to participate in business and economic decision-making, their increased earning power is invested back into their families and communities. It’s a multiplier effect in human development terms.
5by20 relies on collaboration with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), governments and businesses to help break down social and economic barriers that women commonly face in poorer countries. These partnerships include access to business skills training, financial services, assets, and support networks of peers and mentors. As of the end of 2012, Coca-Cola has enabled about 300,000 women of the developing world to become entrepreneurs.
In Brazil, Coca-Cola partnered with the Coletivo Program. Coletivo works with local NGOs to teach retail skills to 25,000 young adults in low-income areas to help them enter the job market or start their own businesses. The training courses offered include how to start a retail store, building a home-based business, supporting recycling businesses, and helping handicraft artisans build a business and access markets. To date, Coletivo graduates have developed business plans for 6,000 small outlets, a third of which are run by women.
A similar training program is being developed in the Philippines. The Philippines Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) will provide training in entrepreneurship, retail management, and accessing financial and merchandising assistance. Women beneficiaries under this initiative are given access to microfinance loans for capital. Microfinance partners can lend up to P300,000 depending on the size of the business proposed. Since 2010, 10,000 have benefited each year from the TESDA program.
Coca Cola also uses innovative technology to generate more business and income for women entrepreneurs. In rural India, Coca Cola is supplying women-run shops with solar-powered beverage coolers. The nifty coolers also have charging ports for mobile phones and can power their own lanterns so owners can light their shops in the evenings.
Last year, Coca-Cola subsidized 100 kiosks around Nairobi, Kenya in a pilot phase. The results showed that shopkeepers prolonged their operating hours by four hours per day which translated into increased sales of 15% more per week. At the same time, they cut their energy spending by up to 90%.
– Maria Caluag
Sources: Coca-Cola, Business World Online , Business Daily, One Degree Solar