Margaret Kungu (Mama Njeri), Sagana, Kenya

"Mama Njeri" owns a 25-acre farm in Kenya that produces mangoes and other crops. Like many small farmers, Mama and her family have struggled to find a steady supply of buyers who are willing to pay a fair price for their produce.

Area farmers often lack access to financing and agricultural best practices, while a lack of infrastructure and fragmented supply chain make it difficult to maintain a reliable supply of high-quality, locally produced fruit that can be easily distributed. But thanks to Project Nurture, a four-year pilot by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, TechnoServe and the Coca-Cola system, life is improving for small farmers like Mama.

Project Nurture develops local sourcing for mango and passion fruits and juices in Kenya and Uganda, benefiting local farmers, the local fruit market and the Coca-Cola supply chain. Farmers receive access to financial services and training in sustainable farming including crop husbandry, agronomic practices, record keeping, negotiating skills, marketing and group governance to help them form coops that can work together to sell and distribute their products. The initiative aims to help 54,000 small farms -- 30 percent of which are run by women -- double their income by 2014.

Today, Mama Njeri is a member of Karima Fruit Growers producer business group (PBG). Project Nurture has linked her to East African Growers (a local exporter), juice processors and traders from Kenyan markets who purchase her mangoes regularly at competitive prices.

Local farmers now leverage their collective bargaining power and economies of scale, increasing incomes and quality of life across the region. Mama also uses her farm to train her neighbors, demonstrate good agricultural practices -- and serve as an example to women everywhere.

"This is a lady who could be doing any other business... but she chose to come and do farming. She brought together a business solution to this dry area that grows the crop, and that is something that gives farmers the inspiration to go out there. This is a mother, this is a woman, this is one of us doing it. We can go out there and do it." - Henry Kinya, TechnoServe project manager

Rosemary Njeri, Nairobi, Kenya

Rosemary originally started her distribution business as a way of helping her husband and supporting her family. She started very small, but little by little her business began to grow and her turnover increased.

With the support of Coca-Cola, Rosemary's distribution center is now a thriving business and is the second largest of the 37 centers that Coca-Coca supports in the urban region of Nairobi. She has received training on stock keeping, book keeping, and IT, and the local Coca-Cola bottling partner has provided assets such as equipment and signage as well as management training.

Rosemary's business has grown through her enthusiasm, hands-on approach and determination, and she has increased the number of her employees from two people to 16, including members of her family. She has also started a group of women distributors who meet regularly to discuss the issues that they face as businesswomen and to encourage and support one another.

Preeti Gupta, Agra, India

Preeti Gupta lives in rural India, 15 km outside the city of Agra, where the dusty roads of her village are filled with children playing, horses pulling bullock carts and motorbikes zipping by. Over the years, she and her family have been without power for days at a time with no warning, as electricity in the area is very limited and undependable. Like many women in her village, Preeti was expected to remain at home and care for her family after having children. But, Preeti was determined to give her children a chance at a better life. She needed to generate additional income to support these dreams, so she and her husband took out loans to open a small shop in their living room where today she sells grains, snacks and beverages as well as many other household goods. Living and working with only intermittent electricity proved challenging, but the recent addition of a solar-powered cooler provided by The Coca-Cola Company has quietly begun to change Preeti and her family’s lives.

A Small Idea Shines Bright
How exactly can a cooler have such an impact -- and she can keep her shop open after the sun sets and the other shops have closed. Perhaps the most important benefit is that her children can study at night as they pursue an education and better life.

In Preeti’s case, something as simple as a beverage cooler is making dreams a reality. Income and quality of life for Preeti and her family have increased since getting the cooler, with Coca-Cola beverage sales providing approximately 15-20 percent of their earnings depending on season. This income means Preeti can invest in needs many others consider basic: healthcare for her family and an education for her children. They now have an opportunity to get ahead.

A Beacon of Hope
"The most important moment in my life was when I started my own shop. We struggled a lot to open the shop. We took a loan from our relatives, the banks and mortgaged our personal belongings.... Coca-Cola has made a huge contribution to us. The solar cooler, along with the cell phone charger, has benefited me a lot. Customers come here to charge their mobiles.... Customers come to our shop and see the light when other shops are out of electricity.... I feel good that I am running this shop along with my husband. I have also gained respect in my family. I desire for my children to go to a good school and make something of themselves." - Preeti Gupta, rural shopkeeper, wife and mother of three

Maya Ibraham, Manado, Indonesia

Maya has always had an entrepreneurial spirit and started her first business when she was 14 years old. Since 2004, she has been running two complementary businesses- promoting the door-to-door sales of holiday food and beverage packets and leading a bottle collection service.

An ambitious and determined woman, when Maya took over her mother's business she was fully committed to growing its revenue and reach, both to prove that women could become successful and also to honor her mother's memory.

With the help and support of the Coca-Cola system in Indonesia, Maya has established multiple warehouses for her collection and recycling business, receives favorable financial agreements for bottle loans and credit and has become a priority client of Coca-Cola. She employs eight people, and she is involved in almost every aspect of the bottling business. Maya's husband now works alongside her, as well.

Maya collects an average of 9,000 bottles daily through her network and re-sells them to bottling partners. Nearly 2,000 housewives participate in her festive packet program, which allows families to pay for food and beverage packets for special occasions in installments. With an estimated annual sales turnover Rp 3.56 Billion or USD 400,000, Maya and her family have a stable income and can spend more time with each other.

Maya also provides inspiration to other women who work for her, and proves to them that they can be independent, successful and balance a thriving and stable family.

Laly Mathebula, Johannesburg, South Africa:

Laly Mathebula took over her husband's small butchery, which is located a few blocks away from the Johannesburg suburb of Sandton, after his death. She has since turned it into a booming business.

Before Coca-Cola became actively involved in her business, Laly sold about ten cases a week. Coca-Cola helped Laly to refurbish the tavern with branded signage, a large flat-screen TV, tables, chairs and more, and since the refresh, she has sold more than 50 cases each week.

A true entrepreneur, Laly plans to sell franchises of her tavern in neighboring townships, including South Africa's biggest township, Soweto, and she is in discussions to buy another neighboring business for additional expansion.

Joe's Butchery's regular clientele includes businessmen and women who frequent the tavern for meetings and lunches, township burial societies, women business groups and former township dwellers who have moved to upscale suburbs but still return on weekends to catch up with family and friends. Even leading local musicians have used Joe's Butchery to build their following, launching their music CDs and shooting music videos at the popular hangout.

The growth of the business has enabled Laly to employ members of her family. She is assisted by her mother, and her uncle is a key member of her management team. In addition, Laly and her best friend created a network of fellow women entrepreneurs. During regular meetings, they share knowledge and provide short-term credit solutions for women who want to start or expand a business. All interest earned is placed in a bank account for a year-end celebration for the women and their families.