Doing business in emerging markets is anything but “business as usual.” Companies face a mandatory prerequisite: to create economic value while protecting and preserving the environment and operating in a socially inclusive manner. No small feat. 

The Model Village program

The Model Village program serves underprivileged members of society.

In India, companies must address two massive challenges: climate change and poverty. Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages (HCCB), The Coca-Cola Company’s owned bottler in India, has worked tirelessly over the last few years to tackle these issues while growing our business.

Our approach to building social inclusiveness is deeply anchored in creating shared value with the communities we proudly serve. This model – which can be implemented across most emerging markets – focuses on three core pillars:

1. Ensuring that our business enhances the communities around the plants we operate through the Model Villages program, which provides access to clean drinking water, hygienic sanitation and primary health care. This program has reached 18 villages, to date, and continues to expand. “The community development work being undertaken by Hindustan Coca-Cola, such as improving the infrastructure in primary schools, regular health camps and free medicines for underprivileged people, is praiseworthy,” says Usha Patel, head of the panchayat governing body in the Mehandiganj village.

Career Development Center in India

Career Development Centers provide professional training for job seekers.

2. Creating capability among the youth in these villages to help them prepare for India’s rapid urbanization through Career Development Centers (CDCs). Our first center was established outside our plant in Dasna, West Uttar Pradesh, in north India, as a partnership with a reputable education service provider and a local NGO. The facility provides year-long training courses on retailing, merchandising, basic computer skills and English. After a successful pilot, we are expanding the CDC program to four more locations.

The first 200 students to complete the program landed jobs with our customers in the retail and quick-service restaurant channels.  Reshma Chaudhary, who earned a CDC course certificate in food and beverages, now works with the Big Bazaar retail chain. “I was among the millions of young women in rural India with hopes and dreams, but without a platform to realize my aspirations,” she says. “The Career Development Center has given me an incredible opportunity I never thought was possible for someone like me. CDC is not just a means to an end, it didn’t just train me for a job… it trained me for life.”

woman entrepreneur india 300

A Coca-Cola kiosk in Gujarat, India, is operated by a woman entrepreneur from the local village.

3. Empowering women across rural India by training and empowering them to become retailers through Bottom of the Pyramid Kiosks, also called Happiness Points. This aligns with Coca-Cola’s 5by20 initiative to support the economic empowerment of 5 million women entrepreneurs across our global business system by 2020. In 2012, we developed a rural distribution model through new dispensing machines in local village kiosks. These kiosks are managed and operated by female entrepreneurs from the local community, who receive training from our sales force. We have opened more than 300 kiosks and plan to expand to 500,000 across India.

“I used to do household work and run a vegetable shop,” says Madhuben, who manages Kalaria Parlour in the village of Bidaj. “Coca-Cola supported me with a kiosk, which helped me increase my income and social stature. I am grateful for this, and I am enjoying running this business.”

India’s future remains bright as we work to create shared value by generating employment opportunities for people who have been traditionally underserved. We are doing this by integrating our operations with the communities in which we operate – improving the lives of the people we touch while building our business. Over the long run, we believe this will help us earn a social license to operate among our consumers in an emerging market with enormous complexities.

T. Krishnakumar (KK) is CEO of Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt. Ltd. (HCCB), The Coca-Cola Company’s owned bottling partner in India. He has been with the Coca-Cola system for almost a decade and also is responsible for the company's Bottling Investment Group (BIG) operations in Bangladesh.