Drinks giant marks anniversary with event that highlights its contribution to fostering local entrepreneurship
More than half a century since multinational beverage giant Coca-Cola entered the East African state of Kenya, the firm is holding a series of celebratory events that will emphasise how it has grown in the country, whilst helping local communities to develop their own businesses.
The company first began operations in Kenya in 1948, investing heavily in the region over the years while employing many thousands of Kenyans. In 2011, the company invested nearly $60m in expanding their operations in Kenya, with further significant investments in the last year.
The company’s General Manager for East Africa Peter Njonjo spoke at launch of the celebrations of its commitment to Kenya: “We are a global company but very much a local business. They employ local people and use local raw materials and services. This has defined our system’s success over the years.”
Part of the company’s success has been its focus on fuelling local innovation and entrepreneurship, with a range of initiatives that encourage sustainable business practices. Considerable investments include Project Nurture, which has enabled local farmers to provide fruit for the firm’s fruit drinks, and the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN), which helps provide clean water to local communities and businesses.
Another significant initiative is the 5by20 project, where Coca-Cola, in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UN, helps local women to become entrepreneurs. This has been greatly used in Kenya, where training in business skills, financial services and networking has led to a number of success stories for women taking part.
Njonjo said: “Our inclusive business model is anchored on responsible business, which has ensured that Coca-Cola’s contribution to the economy can be measured beyond the financial impact to the social and environmental impact seen through our involvement in sustainability, climate protection, women empowerment and sports; all facets of our business that have contributed greatly to what this company is today.”
Kenya has grown steadily since gaining independence in 1963, and is considered the largest and most advanced economy in both East and Central Africa. The economy is dominated by agriculture, with 75 percent of the population working in farming. Agriculture contributes around a quarter of the country’s annual GDP, although there are consistent calls for greater efficiencies to be made in the sector. Many see multinational corporations like Coca-Cola as the best catalysts for these efficiencies, and making Kenya grow even further in the coming years.
Njonjo added that as Kenya has grown economically, so have the opportunities for the business: “Since we began our operations here 65 years ago we have seen Kenya develop significantly, the last decade alone witnessing such growth in infrastructure that believe that in another 65 years to come, Kenya will have achieved its development goals and will have set higher ones. We want Coca-Cola to continue to be part of Kenya’s exciting growth story.”