The Coca-Cola Company 5by20 initiative continues to make strong progress toward its goal of enabling the economic empowerment of five million women entrepreneurs across its value chain by the year 2020. Muhtar Kent, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Coca-Cola Company, announced today at the Walmart Women’s Economic Empowerment Summit that 5by20 expanded by 41% in 2016, reaching a cumulative total of more than 1.7 million women across 64 countries since the initiative launched in 2010.

In 2016 alone, the 5by20 initiative reached more than 500,000 women entrepreneurs and broadened its reach into four new markets: Australia, Guatemala, Italy and Poland.

The 5by20 initiative aims to help women entrepreneurs within the Coca-Cola value chain – or all the businesses Coca-Cola touches – overcome barriers as they grow or establish businesses. 5by20 programs offer women business owners and managers access to education courses, financial products and mentors. For example, farmers producing mangoes for Minute Maid juice benefit from skills training on accounting and agricultural practices. Or retail shop owners, 89% of 5by20 entrepreneurs, complete business skills training on marketing and customer service, and then may be a candidate for a loan from a banking partner.

In addition to receiving skills training, access to finance and mentors, 5by20 participants gain confidence. Results from a two-year study conducted on a 5by20 program in South Africa showed 95% of women included in the study were confident that they would keep their business open and 94% were confident they would be able to grow their business. Women also showed increased ability to afford basic expenses for themselves and their family, such as school expenses for children’s education, medical visits, and clothing.  Two-thirds of participants reported they are able to put money in savings each month.

“Each year it’s exciting to review the prior year’s success and analyze our progress toward our global goal of reaching 5 million entrepreneurs,” said Charlotte Oades, vice president and global director of women’s economic empowerment at The Coca-Cola Company. “But, it’s the individual and community stories that really are inspirational. That’s where the real impact is being made as women are able to increase their income and provide more for their families.”

For example, one of the newer 5by20 programs in Guatemala teaches small restaurant owners business skills about managing employees, budgeting and customer service. The program is being piloted in San Sebastian and Rio Hondo.

“I am very happy, satisfied and grateful for what I learned in the course,” Cristina Hernández, a 5by20 program participant in Guatemala. “Although I find it difficult to read and write, I am putting into practice what they taught me and have greatly improved my business.”