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EKOCENTER: Empowering Community Well-Being Through Social Enterprise

By:  The Coca-Cola Company Sep 24, 2013

Today more than 1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, nearly half the world lives on less than $2 a day and a quarter of humanity gets by without electricity. To help address some of these issues and spur economic and social development, Coca-Cola is partnering with public and private sector organizations to bring basic necessities to millions of people through EKOCENTER™, with a vision to empower community well-being through social enterprise.

For more than 125 years, The Coca-Cola Company has been committed to making a positive, lasting difference in the local communities where we operate. Through EKOCENTER, we are striving to continue this commitment. The project will bring necessities to some of the most remote and distressed areas of the world and also empower community members, especially women, through entrepreneurship and employment opportunities.


EKOCENTER is a modular community market that is run by a local woman entrepreneur and also provides safe water, solar power and Internet access.

Integrating Coca-Cola’s sustainability priorities of well-being, women and water, EKOCENTER focuses on communities that are without access to basic goods and services. It is an “off-the-grid,” modularly designed kiosk that becomes a hub of community activity by providing a place of commerce as well as safe drinking water, solar power and wireless communication. Other functionality that can be added to jump-start community development includes social facilities and entertainment; power generation for charging phones; cooling/refrigeration of vaccines; education opportunities; and much more.

In 2013 we placed our first EKOCENTER prototype in Johannesburg, South Africa. Since, we have made significant progress and coordinated a dedicated management team to oversee the initiative. In the second half of 2014 we will place 23 EKOCENTER pilot units in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Ghana and Vietnam.

The pilots will be conducted in collaboration with our partner SOLARKIOSKTM (www.solarkiosk.eu), a private company based in Berlin, Germany. SOLARKIOSK combines an award-winning design and innovative technology with an inclusive and proven business model to foster local entrepreneurship serving the Base-of-the-Pyramid, enabling economic and social development in rural off-the-grid communities. Since 2012 SOLARKIOSK has piloted kiosks in remote areas in Ethiopia, Kenya and Botswana. The kiosks are designed by Graft Architects (www.graftlab.com), also from Germany. Download the infographic (PDF)

Community participation and support are essential to the success of EKOCENTER, which is why we envision EKOCENTER being operated by local female entrepreneurs, complementing our 5by20 initiative, with assistance from technology, development, and financial partners.

EKOCENTER Infographic

How We’re Doing This: The Golden Triangle

Working with business, government and civil society – what we call the “Golden Triangle” – is key to making a positive difference on global challenges. To successfully execute EKOCENTER with long-term viability in mind, we must partner with other companies, NGOs and governments to leverage collective thinking, experience, innovation, products and financial support.

Here’s a list of our current partners:

  • Global Environment & Technology Fund
  • IBM
  • Inter-American Development Bank
  • McCann Health

Our partners share our commitment to the social enterprise model and are helping us drive social and business impact simultaneously and at scale by contributing their core areas of expertise.

We also have many formal and informal partnerships with the governments and communities where we operate. We seek to partner with other Golden Triangle leaders who share our vision and see the potential of how together we can make a positive impact by empowering communities in need.

“EKOCENTER represents an investment in the future prosperity and progress of some of the most fragile and at-risk communities we serve. Through EKOCENTER we have the ability to change lives by offering access to safe drinking water and other needed resources, all while empowering local entrepreneurs. What started as an aspiration is now becoming a reality as we welcome our partners across the golden triangle of business, government and civil society to scale and improve this innovation.”

Muhtar Kent
Chairman and CEO
The Coca-Cola Company