By end 2015, the Coca-Cola Company, popularly known as Coke, will be launching 1,500 to 2,000 Ekocenters or mini one-stop shops that will supply cooked meals, clean water, power, Internet, vaccines and Coke products to 20 developing countries, including Africa, Asia, North America and Latin America.
With this endeavor, Coca-Cola is partnering with other prestigious companies such as McCann Health, Technoserve, Qualcomm, Inter-American Development Bank, International Business Machines (IBM), DEKA Research and Development and NRG Energy.
Each of the Ekocenters will be run by a woman with the company's goal to make them the center of communities who do not have access to water and power. The kiosks made up of repurposed shipping containers will be built in solar panels with a water purification system.
"We're calling it a downtown in a box," said Serena Levy, Coca-Cola spokesman.
However, it is still not yet clear if any of the offered services in the Ekocenters will be provided to the consumers for free. Coca-Cola is still polishing its business model and will announce soon whether it will provide free services or will charge a minimum fee.
"We're still working on the business model," Levy cited.
At least one center designed by Segway Inventor Dean Kamen has been operational as a pilot project in Heidelberg, South Africa. The Ekocenters reportedly cost over $100,000 each, but Kamen and Coca-Cola are crossing their fingers that the price will come down to about $2,000 as they begin the volume development.
"Ekocenter represents an investment in the future prosperity and progress of some of the most fragile and at-risk communities we serve," said Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola company chairman and CEO.
"Through Ekocenter, we have the ability to change lives by offering access to safe drinking water and other needed resources, all while empowering local entrepreneurs. What started as an aspiration is now becoming a reality as we welcome our partners across the golden triangle of business, government and civil society to scale and improve this innovation."
Coca-Cola reportedly decided to spell Ekocenter with a "k" because reading it backward will spell Coke.
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