ATLANTA - The Coca‑Cola Foundation today announced plans to make social and economic investments in the rapidly changing country of Myanmar, also known as Burma. The Foundation, The Coca‑Cola Company's charitable giving arm, is making a grant of US $3 million to support women's economic empowerment job creation initiatives throughout the country. The Company is also developing plans to begin business locally in Myanmar as soon as the U.S. government issues a general license allowing American companies to make investments, which is imminent.
Coca‑Cola's social efforts in Myanmar are in line with the Company's long-standing commitment to support local communities in every market it serves. The Coca‑Cola Foundation has partnered with Pact, a non-governmental organization working to promote health, economic empowerment and food security in 26 developing countries, to support the development of a WORTH program in Myanmar. The WORTH program operates by gathering 20-25 women in small groups, across hundreds of villages, to develop community banks that lend money to fund business start-ups and entrepreneurial efforts.
"The Coca‑Cola Company has always stood for optimism at times of change and progress around the world," said Coca‑Cola Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent. "From the fall of the Berlin Wall to the establishment of normal U.S. relations with Vietnam to the positive changes we are seeing today in Myanmar, Coca‑Cola has proudly been there to refresh, invest, partner and bring hope for a better tomorrow."
"We have seen the tremendous resilience and entrepreneurial energy of the people of Myanmar over our 15 years working across the country," said Mark Viso, President and CEO of Pact. "Coca‑Cola's generous contribution will allow even more women to tap their own potential, earn a dignified living, lift their families out of poverty and to help all of Myanmar realize the promise of a brighter future."
Pact's efforts in Myanmar are consistent with Coca‑Cola's existing global commitment to enable the economic empowerment of 5 million women across its global value chain by 2020 through an initiative known as 5 BY 20. WORTH will initially fund women interested in supporting a variety of businesses and Coca‑Cola expects the program to eventually identify women entrepreneurs interested in becoming independent shopkeepers and distributors of Coca‑Cola products.
"Coca‑Cola's planned social and economic investments represent exactly the kind of responsible actions we need our American companies to take to be good corporate citizens and create much-needed opportunity and positive change for the benefit of all the people of Burma," said Melanne Verveer, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues. "We applaud Coca‑Cola for its efforts to bring economic opportunity to the women of Burma and for putting the needs of women at the forefront of its future plans to do business in this market."
Coca‑Cola's planned entry into Myanmar, following the suspension of sanctions, will be governed by its well-established global standards for corporate ethics including strict adherence to its global human and workplace rights policy, supplier guiding principles, code of business conduct, and anti-bribery policies, each of which are available on the Company's website.
Coca‑Cola has not done business in Myanmar for more than 60 years. To establish local operations, the Coca‑Cola system anticipates making significant investments in Myanmar over the next 3-5 years. While some products will initially be imported from neighboring countries, Coca‑Cola plans to establish local business relationships and work with local customer partners as part of the long-term economic development of Myanmar. The Company has a general practice of operating as a local business in every market it serves, including selling, distributing, manufacturing and hiring locally.
Currently, Myanmar is one of only three countries on the globe where Coca‑Cola does not do business. The other two are Cuba and North Korea.
The Coca‑Cola Foundation awarded more than $70 million to 263 community organizations around the world in 2011 to support sustainable community initiatives, including water stewardship, community recycling, active, healthy living, and education.
The Coca‑Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is the world's largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands. Led by Coca‑Cola, the world's most valuable brand, our Company's portfolio features 15 billion dollar brands including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca‑Cola Zero, vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply, Georgia and Del Valle. Globally, we are the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, ready-to-drink coffees, and juices and juice drinks. Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy our beverages at a rate of 1.8 billion servings a day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, our Company is focused on initiatives that reduce our environmental footprint, support active, healthy living, create a safe, inclusive work environment for our associates, and enhance the economic development of the communities where we operate. Together with our bottling partners, we rank among the world's top 10 private employers with more than 700,000 system employees. For more information, visit www.coca-colacompany.com, follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/CocaColaCo, or find us on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/the-coca-cola-company.