The Coca-Cola Company, a brand that often sends executives to M2W® and whose SVP Wendy Clark was named the Take the Cake Award winner for favorite speaker during last year’s M2Moms®, has pledged to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs throughout Coca-Cola’s global business system by 2020.  The pledge builds upon a commitment made by the company in 2008 to grow its Micro Distribution Centers (MDCs) in Africa.  MDC’s are an independent network of entrepreneurs who distribute Coca-Cola beverage products to retailers.  “Our experience on the great continent of Africa and the model of our existing MDC program provides an expanded platform to empower an additional five million women worldwide over the next ten years. We need to increase awareness that better societies can be created as a result of empowering women,” said Muhtar Kent, Chairman and Chief Executive of The Coca-Cola Company.   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,” adds Kent.

Author Fara Warner agrees.  “Women are the global growth engine—not China, India or the Internet,” said Warner during her 2008 M2W® presentation on the global power of women.  “The fastest way to grow your economy is to educate a girl, give a woman the right to vote, give her equal rights and give her access to capital.”