The Coca-Cola Company is an internship partner of Georgetown University’s Global Human Development (GHD) program. Each summer, two Master's candidates in the GHD program work in Coca-Cola offices around the world, getting firsthand experience in the areas of corporate social responsibility and sustainability. This special blog series highlights their time with Coca-Cola. Here, Kelsey Weber (pictured above) reflects on her time in Kenya.

Kenya, a country with about 48 million people, has quickly become a leader on the continent with its sustained economic growth and growing middle class. Having been in Kenya for over 65 years The Coca-Cola Company is an integral part of this growth and committed to serving its local communities. However, as the country grows, the rise in demand for plastic packaging has quickly begun to outpace Kenya’s ability to manage the waste. Recognizing the importance of this issue, the Coca-Cola and its bottlers are committed to tackling this issue and developing actionable solutions.  

An Industry-Wide Solution   

Enjoying a nice Kenyan dish, Githeri.
Enjoying a nice Kenyan dish, Githeri
This summer, I joined the dynamic Public Affairs and Communications (PAC) East Africa Franchise team to support on designing and initial rollout of a recycling initiative.  Recognizing the need for an industry-wide solution, we worked closely with Coca-Cola’s bottlers, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers and other industry leaders in the PET value chain. Taking lessons learned from previous recycling initiatives across the world including Africa, we identified initiatives such as the PETCO model from South Africa as one that can be modified to meet Kenya’s needs and context. The ideal recycling model would need to be industry-led and managed recycling initiative to self-regulate and finance PET recycling. The key factor to the success of such a model is that it brings together all actors along the PET value chain, thereby creating a scalable, sustainable solution. Furthermore, it supports local recycling actors and enables them to grow, thereby creating necessary jobs and supporting Kenya’s economy. Although still at the initial stages of development, I was impressed by the speed at which players within the PET-value chain moved to develop a solution.   

Sustainability as a Way of Business

Outside of my work on the recycling initiative, I had the opportunity to learn about other sustainability programs the East Africa Franchise Public Affairs and Communications team manages. The team, in close collaboration with the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, works on initiatives ranging from empowering female entrepreneurs with 5by20, to assisting in water-scarce areas through RAIN. It also recently launched "Why the future is Kenya," campaign that brings together business leaders to promote Kenya's as an investment hub, highlighting their pro-business reforms, strong ICT infrastructure, and rising domestic consumer market. The campaign, like many of Coca-Cola's other initiatives, demonstrates their commitment to being good corporate citizens and investing in the communities they serve. 

This summer, I saw the positive impact a company can have when it commits to the triple bottom line. By building sustainability into its core-business and working closely with other industry leaders, Coca-Cola has set itself as a leader for change in the sector. 

Kelsey Weber joined GHD after six years of experience in nonprofit and international development and will graduate in 2018.

Artwork at Coca-Cola's Office in Nairobi
Artwork at Coca-Cola's Office in Nairobi

Touring the facilities of Coca-Cola bottling partner, Nairobi Bottling Ltd
Touring the facilities of Coca-Cola bottling partner, Nairobi Bottling Ltd