Soda pop and vaccines
Margaret Kungu, a wife and mother of three, is a mango farmer in Kenya. A few years ago, she was struggling to find buyers willing to pay a fair price for her fruit. At the same time, The Coca-Cola Company was importing a lot of fruit to Africa—an expensive and energy-intensive endeavor.
So we teamed up with a prominent foundation and a leading development organization to launch Project Nurture, an $11.5 million program to give smallholder fruit farmers in Kenya and Uganda access to funds and training to support more sustainable farming, record keeping, negotiating skills, and marketing. Today, Margaret has 2,000 mango trees on a 25-acre farm and is one of about 42,000 farmers that Project Nurture has trained to date.
Every week, Coca-Cola delivers to more than 20 million retail outlets in more than 200 countries. These deliveries don’t just drive our business. They also provide opportunities to enhance the well-being of the individuals and communities we serve. Working to make a difference in our world is our responsibility and our privilege. That’s because along with having one of the largest distribution systems in the world comes the responsibility to use this network to do what we can to generate positive social outcomes in a sustainable way.
That means we have to look at our supply chain differently. It’s far more than a fleet of trucks and a distribution network from the bottling plant to store shelves. It’s also a network of highly skilled individuals who are investing in their communities by working to address climate change and water challenges, creating economic opportunities for women, supporting physical-activity programs for millions, and volunteering as coaches, mentors, civic leaders, and much more.
A few years ago, a well-known philanthropist wondered how Coca-Cola could deliver beverages daily to remote African villages, while it took other organizations 30 days or more to deliver life-saving medicine to the same locations. The human cost was incalculable. Doctors and nurses were receiving spoiled medical supplies and vaccines, the wrong medicine, or—in many instances—nothing at all.
In 2010, we helped create a public-private partnership designed to assist Tanzania’s state-run medicine-distribution network in building a more efficient supply chain. We worked to improve the delivery of critical medicine to rural communities by developing training programs and helping to redesign planning and procurement processes. Working with our partners, for example, we collected data on the location and functional status of some 5,000 public-health facilities in Tanzania and fed it into an Excel-based tool that we developed to help optimize medicine-delivery routes.
The collaboration appears to be working. Data released by the Clinton Global Initiative in 2012 showed that average delivery times have fallen from 30 days to 5. Patients are getting the right vaccination 80 percent of the time, up from 50 percent two years earlier. We are now looking to expand this program to Ghana and Mozambique.
Programs like these are successful partly because we’ve realized that our supply chain includes everyone and everything that touches the product as it travels from bottling plants to consumers. Local distributors, for example, are often the most entrepreneurial forces in their communities. They create jobs, invest in new equipment, and support local ventures.
Providing opportunities that enable this entrepreneurial spirit was one of the big motivations behind our Micro Distribution Center (MDC) program, which provides training, loans, and networking assistance to distributors of our brands. Today, the program supports more than 3,400 MDCs that directly employ more than 19,000 people, including many women. That’s important because we consider women’s entrepreneurship essential to building thriving communities, which in turn helps grow our business.
To a similar end, we established “5by20,” a program designed to economically empower five million women entrepreneurs—distributors, retailers, artisans, recyclers, and others—across our global value chain by 2020. A great example is Preeti Gupta, who lives near the Indian city of Agra. Preeti and her husband borrowed money from a bank and from relatives to open a shop that sells grains, snacks, and beverages, along with other household goods.
We provided the Guptas a solar-powered cooler that can chill two cases of beverages. The cooler also has outside ports to charge solar lanterns and mobile phones, creating a literal lifeline to the outside world for a community that cannot depend on having electricity every day. Preeti can now offer her customers cold beverages, even when the power goes out. She can also keep her shop open after sunset and provide light for her children to study at night.
The value of our supply chain might best be understood in how we source and use one of our most important ingredients—water. We recognize that water is a precious resource, and we’ve made changes in our operations to conserve it and set an aggressive but achievable goal to replenish it. By 2020, we aim to replenish 100 percent of the water we use in our finished beverages.
One of the ways we’ll do that is by helping to provide safe water to millions of people. Through our Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN), we plan to provide two million people in Africa with access to clean water by 2015. This $30 million program will cover every country in Africa and include more than 100 projects in all.
RAIN-funded projects improve sanitation and hygiene, increase productive use of water, and protect watersheds. To date, RAIN has provided access to safe water to an estimated 1.36 million people in 28 African nations. In addition to the positive health implications, this has helped farmers increase crop yields and reduce their environmental impact.
We know there’s more to be accomplished and so much more we can do together with our consumers, customers, and partners. To make that a reality, we’ll continue to leverage our supply chain to drive our business while enhancing public health, building strong communities, and protecting the environment. That’s the intersection of doing well and doing good. We’re privileged to share this value with our consumers and communities.