Coca-Cola’s Global Giving Stays The Course: Water, Women, and Well-Being

A few years ago, Coca-Cola and the Coca-Cola Foundation announced that they would narrow their giving down to just three areas of focus: water, women, and well-being. In 2015, the Coca-Cola Foundation awarded a total of $117 million in grants that directly benefitted close to 200 organizations in 70 countries around the world.

Related: Now the Good News on Coca-Cola’s Giving: Millions for Water, Women, and Well-Being

In 2016, Coca-Cola and the Coca-Cola Foundation’s giving dipped just a bit, totaling $106 million toward more than 230 organizations around the world. Nearly all donations supported Coke’s “core sustainability priorities of women, water, and community well-being.”

Let's take a closer look. 

Coming in at a total of $38 million, funding to promote and support community well-being was very clearly the grantmaking frontrunner for Coke last year. The foundation made grants and donations toward education, youth development, HIV/AIDS, arts, humanitarian relief, and disaster relief organizations around the world.

Some of this money stayed in the United States. Among the larger grants here was a $1.4 million gift to Clark University for the Coca-Cola First Generation College Scholarships, Alumni Challenge, and the AUC Collaboration Grant. American National Red Cross received a large grant as well, winning a $500,000 disaster relief grant for its Hurricane Matthew relief efforts in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Haiti. As well, Agnes Scott College received a $312,000 award to support a first-generation scholarship program, adding a focus on women’s global issues.  

Coming in a fairly close second was Coke's support of water and environmental initiatives. Funding a total of $27 million in grants and donations, Coke made some pretty substantial awards to back not only water access projects but conservation projects, as well.

Some of the larger grants in this grouping include a $400,000 grant to Avina Americas for its work to improve water access in Boutin, Haiti. Avina Americas also received a $300,000 grant in support of its sustainable conservation work in Paraguay and Uruguay. Coca-Cola’s grantmaking in this category was fairly diverse, with grants awarded to back water, sanitation and hygiene projects, conservation efforts, and water saving practices for smallholder farmers living in developing countries such as Bolivia.

The women’s empowerment priority came in dead last in 2016. Coca-Cola’s total giving to women’s empowerment causes totaled just $7 million last year.

This represents a shift, after recent years during which Coca-Cola ramped up its women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship grantmaking. It gave grants to groups such as the Kashf Foundation, which received $75,000 for a microloan program for business women in Pakistan, and the Kenya-based Zawadi Africa Educational Fund, which got a $100,000 grant to pay for college scholarships for Kenya’s female high-school graduates.

Related: What Does Coca-Cola Have to Do With Women’s Empowerment? Actually, a lot

The foundation also backed some really cool projects like EKOCENTER, which repurposes old shipping containers and fits them with solar power, water purification systems, and Wi-Fi capabilities. The containers, which are self-sustaining, provide locally relevant products and services to rural communities, and they are run by women.

As well, Coke funded a women’s economic empowerment program called 5by20, which, along with powerful partners including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, MercyCorps, and U.N. Women, aims to empower some 5 million women around the world by the year 2020. Each of the women operating the more than 100 EKOCENTERs spread across seven countries receives training through the 5by20 program. The program isn’t limited to ECKOCENTER countries, as it currently operates in 60 countries around the world.  

Related: From Coke and Partners: Repurposed Shipping Containers to Boost Women and Communities

Still, Coca-Cola grants for women's empowerment continue to go out the door, and it remains an important player in this space. Some standout grants in 2016 include a $100,000 award to Charities Foundation Russia for its education and training program for women who starting their own businesses and $560,000 gift to Cruz Roja Espanola for an entrepreneurial and social skills program aimed at women and youth.