Claire Manuel reports on how an internal scheme to encourage women’s promotion turned into an initiative to empower female entrepreneurs through its entire value chain

Coca-Cola has been working one empowering women in its own operations, and its entire value chain, for the past decade. In 2007, its Global Women’s Initiative was created to accelerate the recruitment, advancement and retention of women across the company. Part of this included founding the Women’s Leadership Council, a group of senior women drawn from around the world who advise on how to build a pipeline of female leaders within Coca-Cola. The Atlanta, Georgia based company then chose to look outwards.

“In 2010, we extended our focus beyond the four walls of our business by launching our 5by20 initiative, which aims to enable the economic empowerment of 5 million women entrepreneurs across Coca-Cola’s global value chain by 2020,” explains Angie Rozas, senior director, social impact. “This includes farmers, suppliers, distributors, retailers, recyclers and artisans.” By the end of 2017, 5by20 had enabled 2.4 million women entrepreneurs in 75 countries.

Successful producer programmes are designed to include and empower a high percentage of women farmers

5by20 programmes enable women entrepreneurs to break down the barriers they face. These include business skills training courses, access to financial services and assets, and access to mentoring networks.

Rozas explains that successful producer programmes, such as Project Nurture, are designed to include and empower a high percentage of women farmers. The project, a partnership between Coca-Cola, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and TechnoServe, reached 54,000 Kenyan farmers, including 16,200 women. It provided training on basic agricultural practices and business skills and increased female farmers’ average earnings by 140%.

More than 36,000 metric tons of fresh fruit from the project were harvested and sold,” says Rozas. For Coca-Cola, the project resulted in the introduction of Minute Maid Mango Punch, the first of its juices in this area to use locally sourced ingredients. Minute Maid Mango Punch became the first Coca-Cola product in Kenya to use locally sourced purée from a processor certified to Coca-Cola standards.

In March 2017, the Coca-Cola Company also joined Walmart and other major corporations in a collaborative effort to track and report sourcing from self-identified and certified women-owned businesses over the next five years. “This effort was established to create a more visible movement and raise awareness of the importance of sourcing from women-owned businesses,” says Rozas.


Main picture credit: Coca-Cola

This article is part of the in-depth briefing, Gender and Diversity. See also:

Lise Kingo: ‘We have to spark a gender equality revolution’

The US firms opening their doors to greater diversity

Investors turn up pressure on Google over gender and diversity

Why supply chains are key to empowering women and increasing GDP

Vodaphone makes progress in push to close the mobile gender gap

How Equileap is helping investment in girls to grow up

Coca cola  5by20  Project Nurture  Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 

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