Red Letters

Red Letters


Does Africa need more Coke?

posted by Tom Davis

Coke is everywhere. In all my travels throughout the world, I can tell you that a Coke product is easy to find.

Recently at the TEDxChange event, Melinda Gates made this same observation, and offered three areas where international development professionals can learn from the global distribution and sales strategy of Coke.

Calling herself an “impatient optimist,” Gates writes, “My TEDxChange talk focuses on the question of how Coca-Cola has become so ubiquitous around the world and what governments and the development community can learn from the company’s success. By analyzing what Coca-Cola has done to become so prevalent, we can apply those lessons to the millennium goals and save even more lives.” [Full Article at CNN.com]

Her talk is about 15 minutes, and I think she offers some interesting stories and conclusions based on her experiences funding large-scale projects throughout the developing world.

I want to note that I don’t necessarily agree with everything Mrs. Gates says in her talk, but she offers insightful analysis of a complicated problem.

The idea that nonprofits and governments should adopt and deploy business strategies (like Gates encourages with her Coke example), is not new at all.

An equally thought-provoking question is, with all the data, why isn’t this happening more regularly? When the human impact and return on investment is so obviously high, why wouldn’t NGO’s and governments rush to employ these same strategies?



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Angela =^)

posted October 18, 2010 at 10:30 am


Well, at least I know that wherever I go I will never be without my admitted addiction! =^)



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Tom Davis

posted October 18, 2010 at 1:40 pm


It’s crazy Angela! I’ll be in Swaziland this week and in the middle of the bush you’ll find a Coke sign and a Coke.



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Rick Smith

posted October 18, 2010 at 2:58 pm


It’s crazy but the first trip I took to Kenya in 1996, I was way out in the mountains visiting an orphanage to potentially partner with. What did they greet us with? Yep. Coke, Sprite and Fanta.
While I agreed mostly with Melinda, it definitely is difficult to translate the Coke model to NGOs with the same success. Getting NGOs on the same page and working towards a common goal is difficult enough – even if they seem to be working towards the same goal.
All the best on your trip Tom. I’m jealous as I haven’t been on the continent since December and have no plans to return anytime soon. Have a Stoney Tangawizi or a Krest for me (don’t worry, it’s a Coke product).
Blessings..



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Frank M . Teabo

posted October 18, 2010 at 7:55 pm


I think the gates do alot of hard work out there. Its good to see people who have money and could live their life with no worries ever, go out and try to make a change. Now can we get christians to do the same thing



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MARTIN S.

posted October 18, 2010 at 9:15 pm


Compassion should be our ambition;
our motivation that drives and
inspires change !!



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