As I prepare to attend and speak at the AVPN Conference in Bangkok next month I have been thinking about our sustainability journey at Coca-Cola, the progress we’ve been making together with our partners and the opportunity to deepen the impact in the years ahead. Our sustainability partnerships focus on two priority areas: water replenishment and the economic empowerment of women entrepreneurs. These are areas of crucial importance to our business and to the communities in which we do business. It’s been a great experience being involved in these initiatives over many years. We’ve been working towards some ambitious goals in both of these areas and our partnership efforts continue to gain momentum.
Water is essential to the sustainability of our business as a beverage company and essential to communities and ecosystems everywhere. I remember the day back in June 2007 that we announced our aspirational goal of replenishing – or balancing – all the water we use. We have made significant progress since then. Indeed, it was with a sense of pride that we announced during Stockholm World Water Week last August that we have now exceeded our global water replenishment goal – five years ahead of target! That means that we are now returning to communities and nature more water than we use in our global sales volume. We’re doing this through hundreds of community water programs in dozens of countries around the world. Here in ASEAN, we have community water programs up and running in eight countries in collaboration with government and NGO partners. These programs have provided sustainable access to water to over 850,000 people across Southeast Asia to date and we’re committed to doing more.
Women’s Economic Empowerment
At the same time, we’re working hard towards our “5by20” goal of enabling the economic empowerment of five million women entrepreneurs across our global value chain by the year 2020. We have also been making good progress, reaching more than 1.7 million women across 64 countries since the launch of this initiative in 2010. Here in Asia, the Philippines has been a global 5by20 lead market since 2011, empowering over 80,000 women micro-retailers to date in a widely-recognised partnership program that provides business skills training, access to financial services and assets, peer networks and mentoring. The Coca-Cola team in the Philippines have done a fantastic job working with government and civil society partners to build this program over the years and we’re continuing to expand the reach and impact of this program in the Philippines and across Southeast Asia. It has been so inspiring to meet the women who have graduated from this training program and hear their stories and the difference it has made in their lives.
We’ve seen that women empowerment is good for business and good for economic and social progress and so we plan to accelerate our efforts to empower women both inside and outside of our workplace. Within our workplace, we’ve been on a journey to attract, retain and develop more female talent into roles of increasing responsibility. Outside our workplace, we’re working to create more opportunities for women entrepreneurs by expanding the impact of 5by20. Here in Southeast Asia, we first launched 5by20 in the Philippines and we are now expanding this initiative to Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. We’ve had a very positive response to this initiative across the region and we’re committed to taking this program to the next level over the coming years. That means staying in perpetual learning mode and fine-tuning our approach as necessary. Released in celebration of International Women’s Day 2017, this video provides a snapshot of what Coca-Cola is working to achieve with 5by20.
I am looking forward to being part of the dialogue on this subject at the upcoming AVPN Conference 2017 and hearing what others are doing in this area so we can learn from their experience.
Stuart will be speaking at the “Growing Women Entrepreneurship to Fuel Social Change and Economic Growth”, on 9th June, Friday.