COCA-COLA’S 5BY20 INITIATIVE: EMPOWERING WOMEN TO SUCCEED – BY SOHAM BANERJI

 

Salam! Greetings from Jakarta!

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Introduction. Indonesia is home to nearly 300 million people and is the world’s fourth most populous country. Sixty percent of Indonesians live on the island of Java. Jakarta, its vibrant capital, is located on the northwest coast of Java. This is my first visit and I was excited by the prospect of working in the city when I was selected, back in March, to work on Coca-Cola’s flagship 5by20 Women’s Empowerment Initiative. I’ve already spent nearly eight weeks here and it has been a wonderfully enriching experience.

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The Landscape. Jakarta is a sprawling mega-city of 30 million people. As expected, it is hot and humid. You feel it as soon as you exit the airport. It’s almost like I never left Washington DC! But unlike the mundane-suit-wearing lobbyists of Washington, there’s a buzz to Jakarta – smiling people, scooters weaving in and out of streets, food stalls and street hawkers selling nasi goreng, masakan padang, and chicken and lamb Sate everywhere you look.

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Jakarta is alive and it reminds me of my childhood years in New Delhi – the cacophony is comforting. In Jakarta, the old is mixed with the new. The old Jakarta has remnants of its Dutch heritage and unique architecture. The new Jakarta is confident, moving headlong into the future at breakneck speed. Young professionals are seen at swanky outlets and bars. Giant new skyscrapers and dozens of shopping malls line every corner. The Dutch past is nowhere to be seen. Construction on a futuristic new subway line can be seen and heard day and night – all in preparation for the Asian Games in 2018. The new Jakarta is also tech savvy – people often use locally made mobile apps to get things done quickly and I’ve slowly learned the best way to do things through trial and error. The pollution is bad, the traffic is worse. Everyone complains about both and it’s a great way to strike up a conversation with a stranger, often while stuck in traffic!
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 The 5by20 Initiative and Coca-Cola. There is overwhelming evidence from international economic development literature that achieving equality and empowerment for women has both immediate impacts that benefit women directly and broader indirect effects that are good for the community and the society in which they live. As pillars of their communities, women invest a sizable portion of the income they earn on the health and education of their children and in their local economies, creating a far-reaching economic impact. Empowering women not only builds self-esteem, but also allows them to become mentors and role models to other women.

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The 5by20 Initiative is The Coca-Cola Company’s global commitment to enable the economic empowerment of 5 million women entrepreneurs across Coca-Cola’s value chain by 2020. The Initiative addresses the most common barriers women face when they are trying to succeed in the marketplace such as limited access to capital, and insufficient financial training. The 5by20 Initiative offers women access to business skills training courses, financial services and connections with peers or mentors in order to build a successful business. To reach their intended target of 5 million women across the value chain, Coca-Cola collaborates with numerous governments, civil society and local businesses. Tapping into these community partnerships has allowed women in participating countries to gain important skills and access to financial services, capital, peer networks and mentoring.

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In 2010, the Initiative started providing these services to women entrepreneurs in the hope that they will eventually be able to start independent businesses and be a part of Coca-Cola’s value chain as retailers. As a result, at the end of 2015, over one million women have been reached across 60 countries in Africa, Asia, Central America, South America, North America and Europe.

Indonesia is one of the largest countries to implement the 5by20 Initiative. Since 2013, 82,000 women have been reached across the country. In its efforts to bridge the technological gap and employ innovative strategies, Coca-Cola and its partners are implementing innovative e-Learning strategies to take advantage of the large number of smartphone users in the country that accounts for nearly 40% of total mobile phone users as of 2015. Implementation involves extensive application of SMS text messages, Mobile Apps and Mobile Web-links to educate and train women entrepreneurs through simple, easy to follow, training modules. Time is of the essence for women entrepreneurs and e-Learning allows women to stay at their place of work and easily receive information on their phones on how to start a business, maintain finances, and engage customers.

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My Work and Initial Thoughts. I’m working directly with the Coca-Cola Public Affairs team, the regional bottling partner, Coca-Cola Amatil, and the IT partner, 8villages to help develop a monitoring and evaluation strategy for the 5by20 Initiative in Indonesia. Additionally, I’m helping the team design comprehensive indicators for the next phase of programming in provinces across the country. Furthermore, I’m delving into understanding best practices for e-Learning, it’s overall design and methodology, as well as M&E strategy, so that it may be utilized and scaled-up in other 5by20 implementing countries. My interviews with current 5by20 beneficiaries have been extremely positive and I’m hoping to meet a lot more individuals in the coming weeks to gain a better understanding of current programming and its effectiveness. Everyone that I’ve worked with so far has been fantastic and very accommodating and I’ve settled in well. There is a lot of work to be done for the 5by20 Initiative in Indonesia and I’m excited to see how I can help the team improve programming on this very important Initiative.

 

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