It has been more than a month since I traveled to the Mewat Village School in India, yet my memory of the children I met there is still both vivid and heartwarming. My visit had been arranged by the Coca-Cola India team, as part of a business trip to the region, to show me first hand the remarkable impact that the Support My School project is having on the country. Tetra Pak joined the initiative three years ago, partnering with Coca-Cola to support the program, and I am so glad we did.

During that time, we have jointly helped revitalize 17 primary schools, creating better, more comfortable learning environments for more than 5,000 children. Basic amenities have been provided, teaching facilities have been improved and, as a direct consequence, school attendance has risen. This tremendous is bringing value not only to the children, but to the community more broadly and to the country. The enthusiasm of the pupils, their gratitude and their appetite to learn was both heartwarming and inspiring… and left no doubt in my mind about the positive impact global companies like Coca-Cola and Tetra Pak are having through well-targeted investment in well-managed local initiatives.

Within my own company, we make a relatively simple promise: to protect what’s good. At its core, that’s about protecting food… which has long been at the very heart of our business agenda. But it goes further. It is also about protecting people: our employees, the communities in which we operate, and society as a whole. And it is about protecting futures by developing the products and services that will support the future business growth of our customers, and by acting and operating in ways that best protect the future of our planet.

Support My School

During my time with the Coca-Cola team in India, and in my conversations with Coca-Cola India and South West Asia President Venkatesh Kini, it was gratifying to see that we re touching on each element of that promise. The opportunities for our two companies to jointly address the growing and unmet needs of millions of people living in India for hydration and nutrition in safe and affordable packaging. The importance of doing so in ways that properly support the country’s accelerating environmental agenda. The role we must play in developing a strong, competent and committed local workforce. And the opportunity we have, as global companies, to “Open Happiness” by doing what is good for local communities and society, as Coca-Cola has done so successfully through the “Support My School” program.

I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the Coca Cola India team for involving us in this initiative, and for hosting my visit to Mewat. It is a day that will live long in my memory.

Dennis Jönsson is president and CEO of Tetra Pak, the world's leading food processing and packaging solutions company with more than 23,000 employees based in over 85 countries.

Editor's Note: Across India, a lack of toilets, water and other basic amenities creates an unwelcoming and non-conducive environment in government schools, leading to high rates of absenteeism and dropout rates, especially among young girls. In 2010, Coca-Cola India, NDTV and UN Habitat came together to launch Support My School to raise awareness and funds to bring together partners to revitalize schools in rural and semi-urban India. To date, the program has impacted more than 150,000 students in 370 schools.