A foundation for Africa

The Coca-Cola Company stresses commitment to sustainable development on the continent.

 

At this year's Sukuma Afrika Awards, president of The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation William Asiko took part in a discussion around the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)s – what has been done, what more can be done and specifically what The Coca-Cola Company is doing to give effect to its partnership commitments in Africa.

"The Company has a long-established footprint in Africa and is committed to the development and sustainability of the continent. Over the past 10 years our system (which includes our bottling partners) has invested US$5.6bn in Africa. By 2020, our system plans to invest an additional US$12bn," said Asiko.

"However, our commitment to Africa is not merely based on monetary investment. It is also based on our belief in the importance of sustainable business practices. What this means is that whatever we do, we do in a long-term, forward thinking manner. We recognise that our business has no chance of success and growth unless the communities in which we do business are also healthy, vibrant, and growing economically and socially."

 

Entrepreneurial distribution

In a similar entrepreneurial venture, which has been running since 2000, the Company has helped to establish 3,000 Micro Distribution Centres (MDCs) across 15 African countries. These Entrepreneurial ventures are small drink distribution centres managed by local people that provide direct employment to over 13,500, together generate in excess of US$550mn in revenue for local economies, and provide a close proximity service to over 400,000 small retail outlets. In some countries, this model accounts for the majority of sales volumes. Similar models are now being replicated in other comparable markets in Coca-Cola's business worldwide.

Similarly, a new four-year US$11.5mn partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, TechnoServe and bottling partner Coca-Cola Sabco which was launched earlier this year, will enable 50,000 mango and passion fruit farmers in Uganda and Kenya to participate in the supply chain for the first time. The project, implemented by TechnoServe will work by training farmers in improving quality, increasing production, getting organized into farmer groups and also by facilitating access to credit.

In addition to these on-going projects led by the Company, The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation's also does work in the entrepreneurship space.

"Our main objective," says Asiko, "is to help today's youth understand the importance of self-reliance and the impact they all have on the future of the economy by addressing the issue of unemployment in Africa and helping to create a culture of entrepreneurship. We currently support two entrepreneurship programs in Africa – Junior Achievement (JA) and Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE). Since 2007 the Foundation has invested US$2.8mn in 16 entrepreneurship programs spanning 13 countries."

The company is also making a contribution to MDG 7, and specifically target 3, which is aimed at halving the proportion of the population without access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015.

"Enabling communities to look after themselves to become better economic participants, requires basic services – like water access and sanitation; education; healthcare – in short, the goals of the MDGs. If these basic needs can be addressed there is a greater chance of empowerment and entrepreneurship taking place," commented Asiko.

To address some of these issues, in 2009 the company launched a six-year US$30mn programme called the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN), which is designed to provide over two million people in Africa with access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015. Since the announcement the Foundation has launched nine projects in eight different countries, which will be completed by the end of 2011. These countries are: Angola, Burundi, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania.

It has also committed US$6mn in 2010 to support water projects in Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, DRC, Egypt, Ghana, Liberia, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Additional matched funding for these projects has been provided by USAID and other partners.

RAIN alone is not sufficient to address this target entirely. The company's Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent said at the 2010 World Economic Forum meeting that, during the past few years, it has proven that it can grow its business while improving water efficiency. Mr Kent added that, if a water-intensive business such as Coca-Cola can achieve such results, other businesses can also find workable and beneficial models.

"What we all need to do is to continue to work together – and to do so even more. We need to further partner and engage with governments and bodies such as the UN. And we need to keep encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit among the youth so that Africa‟s people become part of the solution to her problems," concluded Asiko.

Alain Charles Publishing, University House, 11-13 Lower Grosvenor Place, London, SW1W 0EX, UK
T: +44 20 7834 7676, F: +44 20 7973 0076, W: www.alaincharles.com

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