Can a plan to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs by 2020 really work? Coca-Cola’s 10-year initiative, 5by20, set out to do just that—and it’s proving to be a success, for now. A new report by Harvard’s Kennedy Business School calls the plan “ambitious,” and shows that since its inception in 2010, the Coca-Cola Corp. has reached out to 300,000 female producers, distributors, retailers, suppliers, recyclers, and artisans. In partnership with U.N. Women, the initiative has set up various startup business programs for women, such as an effort in Kenya and Uganda for smallholder farmers to sell fruit into the Coca-Cola Company’s supply chain, a plan to supply Coke products to small-scale retail outlets in congested urban environments like Tanzania, and a program that helps 100,000 small-scale women retailers in the Philippines grow their businesses and boost their incomes.
Two years out, Coca-Cola’s 5by20 plan gains traction.