On September 21, at a plenary session on empowering women at the Clinton Global Initiative, Muhtar Kent, chairman and chief executive officer of The Coca-Cola Company, pledged to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs throughout Coca-Cola’s global business system by 2020.
This pledge builds upon a commitment made by The Coca-Cola Company in 2008 to the United Nations “Business Call to Action” to grow the Company’s Micro Distribution Centers (MDCs) in Africa. MDCs are an independent network of entrepreneurs who distribute Coca-Cola’s beverage products to retailers, often by bicycle or pushcart.
Research conducted by the Harvard Kennedy School and engagement with local stakeholders on Coca-Cola’s MDC business in Africa indicates that women face three main barriers to success: 1) Lack of access to finance; 2) Lack of business skills training; and 3) Lack of access to mentors and networks of peers. The Company plans to conduct further research with potential partners to better understand how to empower women across its global system.
“Enhancing economic opportunities for women in the Coca-Cola value chain will result in increased incomes, enhanced skills in business, increased stature within the community, and improved potential for communities,” Mr. Kent stated during the session. “The only way we are going to have a profound and lasting impact on global issues is by joining the forces of business, government and civil society to pool our collective expertise and experience.”
This new pledge capitalizes on the Company’s presence in over 200 countries and its business model which relies on millions of small-scale distributors and retailers, many of whom are women. To meet this far-reaching target, the Company will build on best-practices in its business system worldwide, encourage innovation, and seek the insights of women executives as it considers how to break down barriers faced by women in its value chain.