One of the world’s most popular brands has pursued a social enterprise with the Rwandan government and other companies to uplift the largest province in the country.
Coca-Cola has started the Ekocenter, a social initiative providing medication, clean water, solar power and 3G mobile connectivity to the communities.
Rwanda continues to lead in bringing the power of transformative partnerships in creating economic opportunities for her citizens.
“I would say the Ekocenter is a new model that we are seeing here and what we have noticed is that it is a project with multiple elements that compliment but also make an impact on the community around,” said Odette Uwamariya, Governor, Eastern Province.
Uwamariya explains some of the impacts for the community are the utilities of water and electricity as the community struggles with access to those basic necessities in some areas in the region.
“By setting up this project with clean water, that people can buy at affordable cost is really very important for the community around who have been taking long distances to get this water,” she said.
In addition, the health centre available contains basic equipment for a maternity facility.
“The more we bring services closer to the people, the better because it’s really going to help the community around here because they are going to be getting services that anybody would get from another, better upgraded hospital.”
She adds: “The Ekocenter comes with the promotion of business and creating entrepreneurial jobs for the youth especially.”
Although having Coca-Cola available is good, Uwamariya emphasises that the brand has provided essentials like solar power, “You can match it with the reality on the ground and make sure that you reach the community.”
The hope is that if this collaboration is a success, businesses in the community will be given a significant boost.
“This province has 2.6 million inhabitants and 70 per cent of them are the youth, so this means a lot, instead of having our youth involved in other activities like drug abuse and so on, they rather concentrate here for their health.”
She said this speaking on the football pitch that is also part of the project, Uwamariya says this can be seen as a business opportunity too, if well managed, she reckons they could use it as a facility for everyone to use at a fee, in that way, it will generate money for maintenance and possible expansion.
“We see it as a multiple project that can actually act as a model to do something else which is similar and put other elements,” said Uwamariya.
“Women in Rwanda have that advantage of being highly empowered by our top leadership, but also women make up a bigger part of the general population of this province but also of Rwanda in general – so we believe that whenever the community has challenges, the women will be more affected
“When they have something to boost them, then you are boosting the whole family. You support a woman, you support a family, you support a nation.”