Since making its African debut in 1928—when the first bottle of its flagship beverage was sold in Johannesburg—The Coca‑Cola Company has used the power of its brands and business to make a positive impact on the African continent. Coca‑Cola today operates in all 54 countries in collaboration with around 30 bottling partners, employing more than 50000 people and embracing a local, community-focused approach to all aspects of business—from hiring, sourcing and manufacturing to philanthropic programs and relationships with suppliers and customers.
Since the beginning, Coca‑Cola has contributed to local economies across Africa by creating a multiplier effect throughout its value chain and continually investing in the continent’s future—creating jobs, advancing social and economic opportunity at the local level and preserving the environment and its natural resources.
The company’s core values have always anchored its operations in Africa. In 1986, Coca‑Cola closed its offices in South Africa, divested its local business interests and established the $10 million Equal Opportunities Foundation to aid victims of apartheid and build a post-apartheid society through investments in education, housing and business development.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu praised the company as a model for other responsible corporations to follow. "Coca‑Cola has sought by its manner of disinvesting to empower blacks economically and to help us prepare for the post-apartheid South Africa," he wrote in a letter published by Daily Camera newspaper in 1989.
When Nelson Mandela was released from prison, that following year Coca‑Cola executive, Carl Ware was the first American businessperson to meet him. Company executives were invited to Nelson Mandela’s presidential office on his inauguration day in 1994 to celebrate Coca‑Cola’s official return to South Africa and returned 100 days later to affirm plans to "build a system that embraces the spirit of the new South Africa," according to Carl Ware. In the decades that followed, the company continued to partner with public and private sector entities to invest in initiatives focused on the continent’s most pressing priorities—including empowering women, providing access to safe drinking water and sanitation, and strengthening Africa’s health systems.
In addition to the long-standing history in South Africa, our company has a rich legacy of refreshing Africa and making a difference in numerous other countries. This includes Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco, and Kenya, where we have been operating for over 70 years. Here's a look at a few Coca‑Cola partnerships and programs that have made an impact in Africa:
The Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN)
In 2009, recognizing that more than 300 million people in Africa struggled due to the lack of water and sanitation, The Coca‑Cola Africa Foundation launched The Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) with an ambitious goal: to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene for 2 million people on the continent. After hitting its initial goal in 2015, RAIN expanded its target with a new $35 million investment to reach an additional 4 million people—which it achieved in 2021.
Through 120 projects managed by the Global Environment & Technology Foundation, RAIN has positively impacted homes, schools and healthcare clinics in more than 4,000 communities. The collective effort of more than 300 international and local public, private and civil society partners improved water quality and efficiency and protected critical local watersheds through conservation and restoration work that provides upstream economic services and downstream community water supply.
For example, in Kenya, with support from The Foundation Coca‑Cola Foundation, the Kenya Upper Tana River Basin Water Fund was established to address threats to water security for 9 million people living in this watershed. The project made long-term investments in areas such as agroforestry adoption, terracing of hill slopes and reforestation for degraded lands in critical locations upstream. To date, the fund has provided training and equipment to more than 25,000 farmers, reduced soil runoff and water contamination, and increased farm yields.
RAIN also has equipped healthcare providers to better serve and care for their patients. WASH-related enterprises have created hundreds of job opportunities in infrastructure operations, management and agriculture. In 2020, RAIN provided 350,000+ people with handwashing stations, hygiene supplies and personal protective equipment during COVID-19.
Project Last Mile
In 2009, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID and the Global Fund approached Coca‑Cola with an important question: “If you can find a Coca‑Cola product almost anywhere in Africa, why not life-saving medicines?” The answer was Project Last Mile, a pioneering partnership to help African Health Ministries get life-saving medicines—including those used to treat malaria and HIV—to every person in Africa by focusing on last-mile delivery leveraging the Coca‑Cola system’s supply chain, logistics and marketing capabilities. The coalition builds public health systems’ capacity in supply chain and strategic marketing by sharing the expertise of the Coca‑Cola system. After a successful pilot in Tanzania, Project Last Mile eventually expanded to 35 projects in 11 additional countries reaching more than 35 million people. This includes support for COVID-19 response initiatives and vaccine rollouts.
Project Last Mile conducts in-depth scoping with stakeholders in each country to understand local context and design programs to meet the unique needs of country partners, then transfers skills and knowledge from the Coca‑Cola system to build the capacity of Ministry of Health partners to improve the availability of life-saving medicines.
In 2010, The Coca‑Cola Company announced an ambitious goal to support the economic empowerment of 5 million women entrepreneurs across its global value chain by 2020. The vision was rooted in the belief that investing in women creates a ripple effect of economic growth and sustainable change. 5by20 got its start in Africa before scaling to other parts of the world. Coca‑Cola’s Micro Distribution Centers (MDCs) in Africa—small hubs that distribute beverages to small retailers—served as a foundational catalyst for the initiative. Women owned and operated more than 85% of MDCs.
By the end of 2020, we surpassed our goal, enabling the economic empowerment of more than six million women globally, and over 2 million of these women are in Africa. The ripple effects of this program will continue to be part of Coca‑Cola Africa's legacy for years to come.
In 2022, the Women in Africa (WIA) initiative announced the launch of "JAMII Femmes", a program to accelerate the economic empowerment of 20,000 women entrepreneurs directly and over 60,000 indirectly over a three-year period in ten African countries, in partnership with The Coca‑Cola Foundation. This program will span across Nigeria, Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya, Algeria, Egypt, South Africa, Morocco, Senegal, Madagascar, and the DRC. In its first year, 7,000 women entrepreneurs in Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya, and Nigeria had the opportunity to benefit from the program through online training, networking opportunities, mentoring, and local boot camps.