The Coca-Cola Company, one of the world’s top three beverage manufacturers, plans to further expand its Bangladesh operations by investing $200 million over the next five years, said its chairman and chief executive officer James Quincey.
“We have an enduring belief that our business is only as sustainable as the communities in which we operate. This means that for our business to be viable and grow, the communities must also grow,” said Quincey while addressing the press at the Radisson Blu Dhaka Water Garden hotel on Tuesday.
Coca-Cola has already invested more than $100 million in Bangladesh but to expand its operations in a sustainable manner, the company will need to understand and align itself with the country’s priorities, he added.
In 2015, Coca-Cola brought its “5by20” initiative to Bangladesh and established the country’s first Women Business Centres (WBC).
Its “5by20” global initiative aims to enable the economic empowerment of five million women entrepreneurs across the company’s value chain by 2020.
By the end of 2020, more than 100,000 Bangladeshi women and their families are expected to benefit from the project, which is currently active in Jamalpur, Khulna and Bagerhat.
The WBC is a unique model that supports female Bangladeshi entrepreneurs in rural areas by providing skill development courses and financial assistance, said Quincey, who called in to Bangladesh for just a day.
Besides, these facilities, which are run by women and developed to address some of the more common barriers faced by female entrepreneurs, also offer access to business skills training, market information, agriculture training, mobile banking assistance, healthcare counselling, mentoring and networking opportunities.
Currently, there are about 240 WBCs working to empower more than 70,000 women across the country.
Coca-Cola has been operating in Bangladesh for more than five decades but the company remains incredibly optimistic about the country’s economic growth, Quincey said while using his visit as an example to drive the point home.
The company also intends to strengthen the communities in Bangladesh through various other programmes, such as ‘Every Drop Matters’ and ‘WASH’.
Both the initiatives help promote sanitation and hygiene while also providing clean water and rainwater harvesting projects to schools across the country.
T Krishna Kumar, president of Coca-Cola’s India and Southeast Asia operations; Manuel ‘Manolo’ Arroyo, chief marketing officer and group president in Asia Pacific; Marcelo Boffi, president and Bottling Investments Group and Deputy Group president in Asia Pacific; and Ajay Bathija, managing director, were also present at the event.
THE DAILY STAR (BANGLADESH)/ANN