ColaLife in ZambiaColaLife is an independent non-governmental organization, co-founded in 2008 as an online movement and transformed into a United Kingdom-based charity in 2011. The organization started with the realization that even in developing countries, Coca-Cola is accessible but lifesaving medicines are not. Despite scientific advances and discoveries, in 2017, almost 1.6 million people died from diarrheal diseases globally. ColaLife has made efforts to improve access to diarrheal treatments in the most remote areas of the world. ColaLife has operated with the help of more than 10,000 supporters and donors that allow for an effective response to the second leading cause of death in children worldwide. ColaLife in Zambia marked the beginning of these efforts.

ColaLife in Zambia

ColaLife in Zambia marked the beginning of an impressive effort to save the lives of children with diarrhea. The solution had to be immediate since the high numbers of diarrheal deaths in the region revealed that global efforts were insufficient and ineffective.  A whole three decades ago, Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) and zinc were known as an effective combination treatment for patients with diarrhea. However, 99% of children do not receive these treatments.

ColaLife Operational Trial Zambia (COTZ):  Kit Yamoyo

COTZ was created as a custom project for Zambia under the recommendations of the WHO and UNICEF. The project aimed to distribute diarrhea treatment kits, called Kit Yamoyos, that contain Oral Rehydration Salts and zinc and promote the importance of handwashing by adding soap. The project implemented the founding logic of the organization and analyzed Coca-Cola’s distribution model to distribute the treatments in the most rural and remote areas of the country, specifically to mothers and children under 5 years of age.

ColaLife in Zambia, with the consent of Coca-Cola and its bottling company, SABMiller, coined the “AidPod” package, designed to fit into the unused portion of the crated bottles. This innovation proved that the supply chain could play a fundamental role in the accessibility of these treatments.

Currently, the initiative no longer needs the innovative hand of ColaLife. Kit Yamoyos are being produced and sold by local companies, reaching 1.2 million sales by the end of 2019. This number represents one million people whose lives have been saved. The Zambian Government is the largest customer for the kit and has contributed significantly to this cause. These kits are now easily found in supermarkets and are also sold by informal street vendors.

Extended Scope

The WHO has included in its Essential Medicines List (EML) the combination of ORS and zinc as a treatment for diarrhea. This milestone shows commitment, but above all, the success that the organization has had. The success of COTZ has shown that the solution pursued by ColaLife in Zambia has had a substantial impact. The organization would like to replicate the self-sustained impact that was made in Zambia in other parts of the world. ColaLife wants to continue promoting the treatment to save the lives of millions of children globally. Access to these kits could be the global solution to preventable deaths caused by diarrhea.

– Isabella León Graticola
Photo: Flickr

Ghana's Groundwater
The Water and Development Alliance (WADA), a water management program designed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Coca-Cola, provides communities in Latin America, Middle East, Asia, and Africa with safe water access and sanitation. Since its conception in 2005, WADA has implemented 35 projects. After 10 years, WADA provided 600,000 people with reformed water access and 250,000 people with improved sanitation.

Between 2005 and 2014, WADA reached Uganda, Guatemala, Sierra Leone, El Salvador, and Ghana. WADA engages with these communities with several objectives. First, they establish participatory, sustainable water and watershed resources management to benefit people and ecosystems. Second, they increase access to community water supply and sanitation services. Third, WADA fosters improved behaviors and sanitation hygiene for positive health impacts. Finally, they promote efficient and sustainable productive use for water to protect the environment and provide economic benefits to communities.

WADA’s work in Ghana is a perfect example of the program’s endeavors. Ghana’s groundwater is the primary source of water for small rural towns, and it also has exceptionally high concentrations of fluoride. Fluoride affects calcium’s strength in the human body, a reaction that children are susceptible to. The reaction threatens the development of tooth enamel, resulting in decay, discoloration and severe pitting. The high fluoride content in Ghana’s groundwater is particularly dangerous for children. According to, “seventy percent of all diseases in Ghana are caused by unsafe water and sanitation.” The program directly improved water access for 4,000 families.

WADA also reformed five schools in Ghana’s Sekondi/ Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly. Schools often lack clean water for handwashing and latrines to properly dispose of waste. The program trained more than 40 teachers on hygiene behaviors and latrine facility maintenance. Furthermore, it created school hygiene clubs, installed 40 handwashing stations and 7 latrines. The project serviced approximately 5,400 students with safe water access and sanitation. Since 2007, WADA has serviced 8,000 schoolchildren.

Through the Water and Development Alliance, USAID and Coca-Cola has successfully changed thousands of lives around the world. This organization is a perfect example of how corporations and aid organizations can work together in order to reduce global poverty. Hopefully, other alliances such as this one can continue to improve the state of the world.

Tiffany Santos

Photo: Flickr

Investing in Developing Countries
While some view developing countries as hopeless, others see in them the potential for investment. Despite their struggles, many developing countries are growing at faster rates than wealthy and middle-income countries as their working age populations increase and larger shares of people gain access to education. Below are five American companies that are investing in developing countries.

  1. Amazon
    In June 2016, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos pledged that Amazon would up its planned direct investment in India from $3 billion to $5 billion. Amazon has already built 21 fulfillment centers and has employed large numbers of Indians in positions ranging from courier to researcher and developer. According to Bezos, India is Amazon’s fastest growing market.
  2. Enviro Board
    Enviro Board is a New Jersey-based company that specializes in producing cheap and environmentally friendly panels, “e-boards,” that can be used to construct houses. In 2014, Enviro Board agreed to launch a joint venture with a local Zambian corporation, Africapaciti Investment Group. The agreement involved building over 6,000 houses a year and re-investing a significant portion of the profits into worthy causes.
  3. Cummins
    Cummins is an American manufacturer of power generation equipment. Since 1962, it has been present in India via a joint venture, and today it employs almost 10,000 workers there. It also has a broad footprint in Africa, with representation in 51 out of 54 African countries. It has supported technical education and gender equality in Africa as well.
  4. IBM
    In 2012, IBM set up a global research lab in Nairobi, Kenya. The lab’s researchers focus on finding solutions to the challenges Africa faces, particularly those relating to education, human capital development and sanitation. In 2015, IBM Research Africa added a South African branch through collaboration with a local university. The researchers there are making use of Watson, IBM’s signature cognitive computing system, as they address the continent’s major issues.
  5. Coca-Cola
    Reduced to being one of the poorest countries in Asia by decades of autarkic military rule, Myanmar has courted foreign aid aggressively since it began to open up to the outside world in 2011. In 2012, Coca-Cola entered Myanmar after a 60-year hiatus by opening a new bottling plant there. The plant put the cap on an ambitious plan for $200 million in direct investment in the country over five years.

Whether it be through research and development, direct investment in production facilities or support for training programs, American companies investing in developing countries can help improve people’s lives. As potential consumers, people living in developing countries may also become major assets to the American economy in the future.

Jonathan Hall-Eastman

Photo: Flickr

Watershed Management
To expand the Water and Development Alliance, Coca-Cola and USAID are donating a combined investment of $22 million to provide safe water and sanitation to communities throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Coca-Cola and USAID, through WADA, act in 22 countries worldwide including 16 countries in Africa.

The Water and Development Alliance hosts volunteers in the local communities to participate in watershed management. Keeping the locals involved in the process of establishing improved attitudes and behaviors promotes the importance of maintaining positive health benefits, such as better hygiene and sanitation. This also advocates for smart water usage, thus preventing wastefulness and ultimately protecting the environment while providing economic benefits.

The Global Environment and Technology Foundation encourages the development of new projects and continued progress as the partnership manager. GETF is a non-profit from Washington, D.C. that aims to build partnerships, such as the one between Coca-Cola and USAID, to aid humanity. The three core issues at the center of GETF’s mission are safe water and sanitation, clean energy and climate change reversal, as well as overall sustainability for communities around the world.

In places like Chimoio, Mozambique, the TextAfrica water treatment plant received the funding for restoration and expansion as the facility now benefits 25,000 people in the surrounding area. Partnerships between public and private entities can do a lot of good with adequate funding and oversight to fix problems anywhere in the world. Successful sanitation and hygiene education campaigns are spreading to over one million people across West Java, Indonesia through another WADA-supported project.

The partnership is not limited to Coca-Cola, USAID and GETF. A local non-profit in Kano State, Nigeria called Women Farmer’s Advancement Network helped implement eased water and sanitation access directly in their communities. Also, in Tarija, Bolivia, stakeholder forum PROAGUA raised support for improved water resources and watershed management to the benefit of 150,000 living within the large basin area.

It is important to remember that joining for a common purpose can aid in the fight against poverty, hunger and illness. GETF works to ensure that more successful partnerships such as this may form and make a difference in the lives of real people everywhere. Coca-Cola and USAID continue to strengthen their bond and find new innovative ways to bring basic needs to those struggling to maintain their way of life.

Aaron Walsh

Photo: Flickr

Improve global education

Many CEOs don’t realize that helping improve global education is an investment in the future — not in an abstract future, but in their future. The more educated a country’s population is, the higher its gross domestic product (GDP) usually becomes.

With increased capital, more people can buy more products: someone living on less than a dollar a day will likely not buy Colgate toothpaste or Axe body wash, for example, because that money is reserved for food.

So how can companies help improve global education?

Justin W. van Fleet, director of the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, lists five strategies businesses can use when helping improve global education. Two important approaches are discussed below.

Prioritize Global Education

Companies can’t make a difference if they don’t prioritize doing so. Recognizing that alleviating global poverty — whether through health concerns or through education concerns — is investing in businesses’ futures, companies like Coca Cola have already made global poverty concerns a priority.

Coca Cola decided to invest in Tanzania in 1952, and the company has reaped benefits ever since. Coca Cola now has a presence in a previously untapped community.

“Whatever has to do with improvement of the Tanzania community it also touches improvement of, and welfare of, our company,” said a Coca-Cola Kwanza manager.

Education is integral to a healthy community, so businesses that prioritize developing countries’ education prioritize their own futures.

Collaborate with Governments

Governments are the largest sources of funding for education in developing countries. If businesses partner with government programs, then businesses may receive money for improving global education. In addition, not all funding efforts have to be out of pocket for companies.

Businesses and governments can work together in other ways, too. In 2006, for example, the Hess oil company invested $20 million in an Equatorial Guinea national educational initiative. Equatorial Guinea’s government matched that investment.

According to Brookings, “It is estimated that the program has reached roughly half of the students enrolled in primary school in Equatorial Guinea.”

Hopefully, more companies will adopt these strategies and others to improve global education in the future.

Tyler New

Photo: Flickr

In order to expand and diversify, Coca-Cola has joined the African market in partnership with Chi Ltd, Nigeria’s largest juice and dairy maker. According to the African Business Review, U.S. consumption of soda has dropped by 25 percent, whereas Africa’s consumption of juice and soda has grown by 21 percent. Thus, it is no surprise that Coca-Cola wants to expand in Africa and open itself to non-soda markets in the process.

The merging of Coca-Cola and Chi Ltd will provide new employment opportunities, as well as increase investments into the Nigerian economy. Business Wire claims, “The agreement will allow both companies to leverage their respective investments and expertise to further drive innovation, optimize efficiency and strengthen route-to-market to accelerate growth and increase consumer availability and choice.”

Coca-Cola’s desire to diversify and join the African market is also based partly on the fact that the brand has come under fire recently for allegedly contributing to the obesity crisis. The World Health Organization has encouraged governments to place a tax on sugary drinks, similar to Mexico’s 10 percent tax.

However, by partnering with Chi Ltd, Coca-Cola can transform their market and adopt a new high-growth value dairy category. Nathan Kalumbu, president of Coca-Cola’s Eurasia & Africa Group, is thankful for this opportunity and states, “For more than 30 years Chi’s leadership has built a greatly admired business that has quickly grown to become Nigeria’s leading producer and distributor of value-added dairy and juice products and we are delighted to enter the next phase of our growth journey together.”

Coca-Cola wants to gain back the trust of consumers and Chi Ltd is one of Nigeria’s most admired companies in the domain of food and beverages. Chi Ltd’s products help cater to the diverse needs and palates of every segment of Africa’s dynamic population. Through the African market, Coca-Cola has a fresh start and Chi Ltd has the resources and connections necessary to succeed and expand.

Megan Hadley

Sources: Business Wire, African Business Review
Photo: Flickr

Water Privatization’s Biggest Offenders-TBP
An estimated 783 million people worldwide lack access to clean drinking water. Despite the importance of expanding access to this basic building block of life, many companies instead view water as a commodity to be bottled and sold at the expense of the world’s poor and the environment.

Bottled water is incredibly wasteful. The bottle itself also leads to widespread environmental damage, with more than 85% of globally consumed bottles being thrown in the trash, as opposed to being recycled. Furthermore, 10% of all plastic reaches the ocean, leading to the deaths of an estimated one million birds and marine animals yearly.

Yet, if the environmental impact of bottled water is disgraceful, its impact on human rights is horrifying.

Fiji Water has nearly exclusive access to a 17 mile aquifer on the north coast of Fiji while many Fijians have lived with water shortages resulting in rations as low as 4 gallons of water per family per week. Coca-Cola’s extraction of water in India to produce Dasani, meanwhile, has resulted in water shortages for over 50 villages.

Water extraction has also led to a variety of health problems. The inadequate and unclean water supply in Fiji, for instance, has lead to typhoid outbreaks and parasitic infection. The pollution caused by Coca-Cola through its Indian bottling plants has included dangerous compounds such as lead.

Of course, the causation of health problems through privatization only brings to attention a broader issue in the bottling and privatization of water—the philosophical denial of the right to water. Nestle came under fire in 2013 after the emergence of a video of CEO Peter Brabeck stating that water is not a human right, but a commodity to be given a market value and sold. Nestle owns over 15 bottled water brands, including Poland Springs and San Pelligrino, and has been criticized for its sale of Nestle Pure Life water to the developing world at the expense of the development of clean-water infrastructure. The sale and purchase of bottled water on its own denies the right to water as an infrastructural need, and instead treats it as a commercial product through which the wealthy continue to benefit at the expense of the world’s poor.

Protecting the right to water, globally, is highly important. It is a right which must exist to protect the health, agriculture and infrastructure of the developing world. Water privatizations, and the actions of the companies that control significant portions of the world’s water supply, deny the important progress to be made on this front.

– Andrew Michaels

Sources: Food Is Power, Mother Jones, World Watch, The Guardian, UN Water, Huffington Post,
Photo: Food and Water Watch

Coca-Cola products reach every corner of the world while essential medicines do not. ColaLife, a UK charity, noticed this and decided to make a change. ColaLife uses Coca-Cola to open up the private sector supply chain to deliver affordable and effective medicines.

ColaLife produced the Kit Yamoyo, an anti-diarrhea kit. Diarrheal diseases cause life-threatening dehydration, which is the second leading cause of death in children under the age of 5 in developing nations. Each year, it takes the lives of 760,000 children, even though it’s curable.

The problem is that these children do not have access to the cure, which is what ColaLife sought to solve. The Kit Yamoyo contains Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS), soap, and zinc, which act as a cure. The package itself acts as a measuring device for water needed to mix up the ORS and zinc, and can also be used as a storage device as well as a cup.

The Kit Yamoyo has a v-shaped cup to easily fit into the Coca-Cola delivery crates. As a compact, low-cost product, the Kit Yamoyo piggybacks Coca-Cola’s supply chain to reach remote areas. It is a symbiotic relationship: Coca-Cola products continue to reach and get sold in remote areas, while the consumers gain access to more medicines than ever before.

The kits themselves are sold with Coca-Cola products. As the kits make their way out to the remote areas, the demand for them becomes greater. It’s a positive situation for everyone involved: Coca-Cola products are sold, the retailer makes a profit, and the consumer gets the medicine they need to help their children.

With enough funding, the Kit Yamoyo will have a big impact. It will widen vaccine coverage in remote areas and reduce death rates caused by dehydration and malnutrition. It will also encourage an increased investment in training and help health workers reduce child mortality rates. ColaLife has proven that the supply chain is just as important as the medicine itself.

Hannah Resnick

Sources: ColaLife, University of Delaware, WHO, Zambia Daily Mail
Photo: Just Giving

Not many people appreciate huge billboards blocking out landscapes and pushing companies’ products on such a large scale. Some companies are using innovative methods to change this perception of billboard advertising and clean the environment for their communities. This blend of environmentalism and economics allows companies to sell their brand while cleaning the air and water in their cities. These three types of billboards are doing just that:

1. River-Filtering Billboards

The Pasig River in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, has been devastatingly polluted for decades. A Japanese company has plans to clean up the river through the use of floating billboard advertising.

Shokubutsu Hana, a Japanese cosmetics brand, teamed up with the Pasig River Rehabilitation commission, Vetiver Farms and agency TBWA\Santiago Mangada Puno to design an advertisement using a grass called vetiver. Vetiver has the ability to filter water that passes through its system, cleaning pollution out of 2,000 to 8,000 gallons of water per day. It can filter out nitrates, phosphates and heavy metals, all of which are found in the Pasig.

The billboard is planted to spell out “clean river soon,” an encouragement to the community that their river is being cleansed of pollution. This phrase also serves as a reminder to passersby to avoid throwing garbage in the water. With the success of this billboard, there are plans to create more floating advertisements along the river.

2. Water-Purifying Billboards

The fifth-largest city in the Western Hemisphere is Lima, Peru. It is also located in the middle of a coastal desert, and it sees approximately half an inch of precipitation per year, while also averaging 83 percent humidity. Poor families in Lima cannot afford the exorbitant price of water — a basic necessity to survive.

The University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) has developed a new billboard that pulls moisture from the atmosphere and converts it into drinkable water — all to advertise for the school. Although it requires electricity to run, the billboard is far easier than the unclean wells that many Lima citizens currently use. It has the capacity to produce 9,450 liters in three months, which is enough to sustain hundreds of families. The idea was the brainchild of advertising agency Mayo DraftFCB, with the hope that the billboard would draw students into engineering at UTEC, while also providing a service to the many people in need.

3. Air-purifying Billboards

In addition to the lack of water, the air quality in the city of Lima, Peru is the poorest in South America. A recent increase in construction has created a toxic atmosphere for many of the city’s residents. The pollutants near these sites cause disease, and possibly even cancer. Again partnering with Mayo DraftFCB, UTEC has developed an air-purifying billboard to alleviate the air pollution caused by growing construction.

The billboard purifies the air as much as 1,200 trees, creating a safe place to breathe within a radius of five city blocks. The billboard dissolves pollutants into water before releasing clean air back into the street. That waste water can then be recycled back into the system, and all of this happens while using only about 2,500 watts of electricity per hour.

UTEC is not the first brand to purify the air with a billboard. Back in Manila, in 2011, Coca-Cola created a billboard that actually contained plants, in partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature. It is made up of 3,600 Fukien tea plants, which combined removed almost 50,000 pounds of carbon dioxide in a year. The plants grow as the background, forming a silhouetted Coca-Cola bottle. Even the pots the tea plants grow in are recycled from old Coca-Cola bottles. All the plants are watered through trickle irrigation, which drips water down the billboard.

Both billboards provide a healthy environment for citizens who pass through the pollutant-free area.

— Monica Roth

Sources: Fast Company, Visual News, Time, FCB Mayo, Gizmag, Triple Pundit
Photo: Shaw Contract Group

Coca-Cola has continued to be a responsible citizen in the global community through empowering women around the world along with aspiring to conserve the world’s natural resources. Coca-Cola has pushed for better agriculture over the past few years along with providing better agricultural principles and clean water for Africa.

Coca-Cola believes that women are the key to economic growth and reducing global poverty. In fact, The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that if women and girls have just as much access as men and boys do to agricultural resources like farming this could increase production by 20 to 30 percent. This could tremendously aid in farm production in developing countries.

In addition, Coca-Cola South Africa has teamed up with UN women to ensure growth in women entrepreneurship. Women in South Africa are receive training in areas of business and marketing to help prepare them for the current job market. In turn, many of these women will be opening small retail stores selling Coca-Cola products and with the help of Hand in Hand, the partner in the program, estimates predict to have over 25,000 South Africa women running their own businesses by 2015. This is not only expanding Coca-Cola, but the overall business in South Africa.

All the same, Coca-Cola is making use of new technology for their products and services to invest in these developing countries’ futures by creating new business models which can improve the lives of millions and reduce global poverty. Nevertheless, Coca-Cola strives to improve the quality of life for low-income families by providing opportunities which were among the least in these areas, while conserving the environment.

Coca-Cola demonstrates the qualities of a caring citizen for the world with the development of Ekocenters, which provide basic human needs such as clean water, vaccines, food and electricity in developing countries. The developing nation’s biggest issue is the need for basic human necessities in order to continue to develop and reduce global poverty. Therefore, these technological advancements can aid as well, by providing the necessary tools to move beyond poverty.

Coca-Cola is aiming to give back by creating a goal for the year 2020 to improve the company’s water-use efficiency. Also, Coca-Cola has created programs to help get water back to the communities through watershed efforts like the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation’s Replenish Africa Initiative and helping to bring safer water to communities around the globe. Accordingly, the Replenish Africa Initiative works by improving access to water and sanitation. This then promotes better hygiene and the reduction of illness and disease. In turn, this helps the community at large by improving health, the environment and helping to promote sustainable water for the environment.

Coca-Cola is transforming communities by empowering women and investing in the future of these small businesses. This will in turn bring more opportunities to the development of the community, along with improving the environment by conserving natural resources that are valuable to all countries, and bringing basic human needs to these areas’ doorsteps.

– Rachel Cannon 

Sources: Coca Cola, Harvard Kennedy School
Photo: Flickr