The Coca-Cola Company is an internship partner of Georgetown University’s Global Human Development (GHD) program. Each summer, two Master's candidates in the GHD program work in Coca-Cola offices around the world, getting firsthand experience in the areas of corporate social responsibility and sustainability. This special blog series highlights their time with Coca-Cola.

“I use both SMS messages and the 5by20 mobile app modules to grow my business… this motivates me to sell more items from my store to help my family,” explains Bu Salmah in Bahasa, the language of Indonesia. “My questions are answered quickly through the app, and it’s very easy to use."

Salmah owns a small trading store. I listen intently to the translator as I scribble notes in my notebook for one of several interviews I conducted during my summer internship with Coca-Cola. She is one of many small business owners and entrepreneurs in and around Jakarta that are directly benefiting from 5by20, The Coca-Cola Company’s global commitment to enable the economic empowerment of five million women entrepreneurs across the global Coca-Cola value chain by 2020.

This was my first time in Indonesia, and I was excited to broaden my horizons and support this important initiative.

I worked directly with the Coca-Cola Public Affairs team, the regional bottling partner, Coca-Cola Amatil, and IT partners to help develop a monitoring and evaluation strategy for 5by20 in Indonesia. I also helped the team design comprehensive indicators for the next phase of programming while delving into understanding best practices for e-Learning via SMS, Mobile App, and Mobile Web-links, so that it may be utilized and scaled-up in other 5by20 implementing countries. 

Key Takeaways From the 5by20 Initiative:

Coca-Cola intends to reach its goal of five million women across its value chain by collaborating with numerous governments, civil society and local businesses. Here are my key takeaways:

  1. Using technology to improve programming: 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 percent of total mobile phone users as of 2015. This has provided not only scalability, but also sustainability.
  2. Educating and engaging women entrepreneurs: “Managing finances is difficult. I like the module that explains income management and marketing,” explains Bu Lilis in Bahasa, who owns a small vegetable kiosk. Financial literacy is one of the most common barriers women face when they are trying to succeed in the marketplace. The 5by20 initiative includes an extensive application of SMS text messages, mobile apps and Mobile Web-links to educate and train women entrepreneurs through simple, easy-to-follow modules. Time is of the essence for these entrepreneurs, and e-Learning allows them 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.
  3. Leveraging Coca-Cola’s global brand: Coca-Cola’s global brand recognition and its sustainability strategy to embrace local communities and their needs has made the 5by20 initiative successful. My discussions with Coca-Cola executives throughout the summer highlighted the importance of programs like 5by20 and the significance of involving multinational corporations to solve social problems so as to bridge the gap in funding and expertise that the public sector is unable to provide.

Women invest a sizable portion of their income on the health and education of their children and in their local economies, creating a far-reaching economic impact. Evidence from international economic development literature highlight the importance of achieving equality and empowerment for women as it 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. The initiative provides guidance and support to women entrepreneurs to be successful.

As a global social enterprise and development fellow at Georgetown University, my summer experience in Jakarta with Coca-Cola on the 5by20 initiative has provided a unique opportunity to see how the private sector engages stakeholders and effectively meets end-users' needs. The initiative is an example of how working in collaboration with communities and strategic partners, social problems become business priorities that, in turn, create a virtuous cycle to address pressing development challenges. Observing how participants benefitted from the initiative gave me renewed confidence in the potential for well-designed corporate strategies that address community needs while achieving business success.