Coca Cola and BT Innovate together

This Press release landed in my e-mail box few days back

COCA-COLA AND BT JOIN HANDS FOR CONNECTING COMMUNITIES IN SOUTH AFRICA

Coca-Cola and BT offer free Internet access to Umtata and Nelspruit

Coca-Cola South Africa, bottling partner Coca-Cola Fortune and BT Global Services are partnering to set up WiFi on Coca-Cola machines and provide free internet access to impoverished communities in South Africa. Coca-Cola is installing the refreshment-dispensing coolers while BT is providing design and support, connectivity and internet access, as well as business training.  The pilot project has been launched in two key areas in Umtata in the Eastern Cape province and Nelspruit, in the Mpumalanga province.

“The initiative forms part of Coca-Cola’s commitment to building sustainable communities by empowering the members of these communities. We believe that by giving them access to free WiFi we will enable students and school children in the area to increase their knowledge through research while also giving entrepreneurs and small business owners in the community the opportunity to manage some of their business aspects online,” says David Visser, Chief Information Officer of Coca-Cola South Africa.

Oliver Fortuin, managing director, BT Global Services, Sub Saharan Africa, said: “We are delighted to collaborate with Coca-Cola and be involved in a project that will give underserved communities much improved access to information and education opportunities. At BT, we have a vision for a Connected Society: to help improve society globally through the power of digital connections. As well as providing access, we want to help people use technology to apply their creativity and harness the possibilities of today’s connected world.”

The project provides WiFi connectivity for community members of Nelspruit and Umtata. The sites were strategically chosen for their accessibility, so as to maximise usage of technology by the locals. The first site is Sasol Integrated Energy Centre (SIEC) in Qunu, Umtata. This is a popular spot for locals and is in close proximity to a taxi rank, attracting large numbers of people. Furthermore SIEC is run by a predominantly women run co-operative which will benefit from the increased flow of people. The second site is located at Thokozane Fast Food situated in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga.

Both outlets are in the vicinity of shopping centres and schools, allowing members of the communities to combine their day-to-day activities with the opportunity to access the internet for business and educational purposes. Internet access is offered for free via WiFi, without any purchase requirement of any kind and is accessible for the duration of the time spent at the outlets.

Coca-Cola South Africa, Coca-Cola Fortune and BT Global Services aim to grow the project and install WiFi coolers in various parts of South Africa to help support and grow sustainable communities.

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I thought this can be a beautiful example of intersectional innovation as well as collaborative innovation. Intersection – because two companies from two very different domains thought of a solution that lies at the intersection of their strengths. Coca-Cola’s strength lies in its strong distribution network for which their machines are the last nodal points. BT of course is telecom major and they collaborated to marry their strengths to serve a communities that are otherwise isolated due to unavailability of Internet.

Anuradha Goyal