Coke CSO urges value chain to invest in ‘powerful’ women

Coca-Cola's chief sustainability officer Bea Perez has called for greater empowerment of women entrepreneurs, arguing they need more visibility within business.

“Investing in women is one of the most powerful ways to spur sustainable economic growth and development,” she said during Coca-Cola’s first ever twitter chat, hosted last week.

During the Q&A session, Perez fielded numerous questions about the valuable contribution women can make to business and industry, particularly in developing nations, provided they are given the opportunity to do so.

She said that there were three main barriers women faced – access to business skills, financial services and mentors or peer networks.

“Once you teach a women business skills, it all starts to come together. Her business starts to improve and she has the ability to teach these skills to other entrepreneurs in her community,” Perez noted.

She added that educating men on women issue’s and the specific challenges they face was just as important, and that engagement levels needed to be far and wide.

“Investing in women strengthens entire communities and bolsters local, regional and national economies,” she maintained.

The webchat formed part of Coca-Cola’s 5by20 initiative which seeks to enable the economic empowerment of five million women entrepreneurs across its global value chain by 2020.

Specifically, it focuses on the small businesses the company works with in more than 200 countries around the world including fruit farmers, retailers and recyclers.

5by20 started in 2010 with four key pilot markets and has since expanded to 12 developing countries including Brazil, Costa Rica, Haiti, Kenya, Mexico and Thailand.

Maxine Perella

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