Coca-Cola has announced strong progress towards its goal of enabling the economic empowerment of 5 million female entrepreneurs across the Coca-Cola value chain by 2020, showing that its 5by20 initiative has reached more than 1.2 million women in total since its launch six years ago.

More than 372,000 women entrepreneurs were enabled by 5by20 in 2015, increasing the total number of participants by 43% over the course of the year. This growth can be attributed primarily to programmes scaling and replicating in the Eurasia- Africa and Asia-Pacific regions, Coca-Cola said.

Coca-Cola chief sustainability officer Bea Perez said: “We believe thriving, sustainable communities are critical for a sustainable business and women are absolutely essential to our success. We still have a significant amount of work to do, but I am proud of the progress we are making. It’s inspiring when I am able to meet the participants and see firsthand how 5by20 is transforming the lives of women, families and communities around the world.”

5by20 has helped women from cultivation and supply to retail, and through to the recycling process of Coca-Cola’s value chain. It is named after the ambition to improve the livelihoods of 5 million of the company’s female stakeholders by 2020.

Case study: South Africa

Results collected over 18 months as part of Coca-Cola and Ipsos’ impact study into female entrepreneurs in South Africa have indicated that, on average, the women participating in the study saw increases in sales and personal income, which they were able to use for basic expenses for their families and to put into savings accounts.

Specific data points from the study include an average business sales increase of 44% and average personal income increase of 23% over one year; more than half of participants reported their business improved “a lot” as a result of the training; approximately two-thirds of participants reported that they were able to put money aside for saving each month; more than 90% of the women said they were confident that they could keep their business open and be able to grow; and on average, since the baseline, the women showed an increased ability to afford basic expenses for themselves and their families, including expenses for their children’s education, medical visits, and clothing.

“These data points indicate that women participating in our 5by20 initiative are achieving sustainable progress in being economically empowered,” said Therese Gearhart, president of Coca-Cola Southern Africa. “An educated, successful and empowered woman creates a ripple effect throughout her community when she can afford her children’s education, provide basic medical needs for her family and help support and mentor other women entrepreneurs. The entire community benefits.”