Coca-Cola to expand women's economic empowerment initiative

ATLANTA — Coca-Cola has seen strong progress toward its goal to place 5 million women entrepreneurs across the Coca-Cola value chain by 2020 and plans to expand its initiative.

Called the 5by20 initiative, the program launched originally in four pilot countries: Brazil, India, South Africa and the Philippines. Coca-Cola plans to broaden its scope to a total of 12 countries, adding China, Costa Rica, Egypt, Haiti, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria and Thailand. By the end of 2012, 5by20 will reach 300,000 women.

The economic empowerment program provides women with access to business skills, financial services, assets and support networks of peers and mentors, thus helping them succeed as entrepreneurs.

“Working with and investing in women is one of the most powerful ways to spur sustainable economic growth and development,” said Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Company. “I’m excited by the progress we’re making toward our goal to empower 5 million women. We are transforming lives and communities, making a profound and lasting impact on global issues and also growing our business.”

The expansion includes the launch of 5by20 in China in partnership with All China Women’s Federation to provide business skills to female retailers, with the initial pilot program underway in Guangxi Province. In Kenya, young women entrepreneurs are receiving business skills training and retail assets to establish new enterprises in partnership with TechnoServe. In Mexico, young women are receiving business skills training and being trained for their first job.

In addition several new 5by20 programs are a result of the partnership The Coca-Cola Company and UN Women announced in Sept. 2011.

“Women need more opportunities to participate fully and equally in the workforce. Countless studies point to the fact that companies with a higher share of women have improved results — higher levels of innovation, productivity and profit margins,” said Michelle Bachelet, UN Women executive director. “UN Women supports women’s economic empowerment as a key priority to advance gender equality and improve the lives of women around the world.”

The Coca-Cola Company and UN Women’s $4 million partnership will economically empower 40,000 women throughout a three-year period in South Africa, Brazil and Egypt. The two organizations are collaborating to provide women with business skills training, leadership training and access to financial assets. UN Women is the UN organization established as a global champion for women and girls.

“We know that women’s income goes directly to their children’s education and other family needs,” adds Kristin Hetle, director of UN Women’s Strategic Partnerships Division. “The collaboration between The Coca-Cola Company and UN Women will benefit communities at large and future generations.”

In Egypt, The Coca-Cola Company and UN Women are providing women entrepreneurs with retail kiosks, business skills training and access to mentors. In Brazil, the partnership is focused on reaching women recyclers, artisans and community leaders throughout Coca-Cola’s value chain to provide leadership skill development and business skills training. In South Africa, the two organizations are providing retailers with business skills training, mentoring and guidance on networking with peers.

“Women entrepreneurs around the world are faced with numerous barriers to success,” said Charlotte Oades, global director, Women’s Economic Empowerment, the Coca-Cola Company. “We believe providing access to training, finance and support networks are the best ways to help women overcome barriers, unlock their untapped potential and build their business in a sustainable way.”