FiveByTwenty: Coca-Cola’s Pledge to Empower Women

When I say ‘Coca-Cola’s reputation’, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

Coca-Cola may not have the greatest reputation for its business practices around the world, but for thousands of women in many developing countries, the Company’s business decisions aren’t looking so unjust!

When It All Started

At the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative Meeting in New York City, Coca-Cola’s CEO Muhtar Kent announced the Company’s FiveByTwenty project – their pledge to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs in the developing world by 2020. The idea is to integrate profit-making with local community support, not through charity, but through innovative and inclusive business models. For women entrepreneurs around the world, this means access to the skills training, small-business loans and professional networks that are crucial to the prospect of a bright future for themselves and their families.

By 2020, The Coca-Cola Company aims to partner with civil society and other private sector actors to support 5 million women through:

  • Access to financing
  • Access to business skills
  • Access to mentors and business networks

How Does It Work?

Check out this video on the Five by Twenty program:

The FiveByTwenty initiative is made possible through Coca-Cola’s implementation of Manual Distribution Centres (MDCs). These MDCs are an alternative to Mass-Distribution Centres, which employ trucks to deliver Coca-Cola products to local retailers. What makes a distribution centre “manual” is the fact that it runs like a small business, without the trucks. Each MDC that supports the initiative is run by an eligible woman entrepreneur, selected with the help of local community networks, job applications and NGOs (non-governmental organizations). Through skills training, small-business loans and civil society support, the women involved in FiveByTwenty gain the necessary skills to successfully run the distribution centres. This involves financial and management accounting, as well as hiring locals to sell carts of Coca-Cola products to small retailers

The Facts

In 2009, Coca-Cola employed approximately 13,500 workers in over 3,000 MDCs across Africa, generating revenues of over $600 million. This translates into the financial support of an estimated 40,000 dependents amongst hundreds of small communities. These figures indicate an average of 4 to 7 workers employed in each MDC. It was expected that between 2008 and 2010, at least 1300 new MDCs will have created approximately 6,000 jobs in Africa.

By harnessing the unique scale and reach of our global system, FiveByTwenty aims to give millions of women opportunities to reach their potential, to support their families and to strengthen their communities – and inspire millions more to do the same.

“Five by Twenty is exactly the type of investment that we need in order to reinvigorate our economies and foster long-term, sustainable growth” – Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-At-Large for Global Women’s Issues, US Department of State

Your Influence Matters

Big corporations are never perfect, and often pressure from civil society will make or break the success of an initiative as ambitious as this. Looked at differently, participating in civil society does not just mean being a volunteer or giving to charity. It also means engaging in the movement of information and demand for transparency, because these are the building blocks for action. Sharing a link to Coca-Cola’s FiveByTwenty website on social networks or signing up for Coca-Cola Sustainability Email Alerts are just a couple ways to support this standard.

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