Women Entrepreneurs in Eurasia, Africa Get $100 Million Boost
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
In a promising step toward the economic empowerment of women in emerging markets, the Coca-Cola Co. and International Finance Corp. (IFC) on Monday announced a joint initiative that aims to support female entrepreneurship in Eurasia and Africa.
The $100 million, three-year project will provide businesswomen within Coca-Cola’s supply chain with access to critical financial backing. In doing so, the initiative will pool the vast resources and networks of two of the world’s largest corporations. Coca-Cola’s beverage distribution system, which supplies more than 200 countries around the globe, has been held up as a model of efficiency and reach by such luminaries as Melinda Gates, who has urged not-for-profits to take a page from the company’s playbook. Meanwhile, the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, leveraged more than $20 billion in private-sector investments last year to foster sustainable growth.
The initiative, for which the IFC will utilize its network of local and regional banking institutions to provide financing to women in the Coca-Cola value chain, is already being implemented in Nigeria. There, the two firms are working with Nigerian Bottling Co. and Access Bank to offer financial support to local female microdistributors. In a statement on the joint project, Nathan Kalumbu, the president of Coca-Cola’s Eurasia and Africa group, said: “Women entrepreneurs make significant contributions to emerging and developing economies, yet have lower access to finance than their male counterparts. By providing greater access to capital, we are investing in our own success and the success of the communities we serve.”