When Rwandan President Paul Kagame visited Coca-Cola’s Atlanta headquarters in 2013, Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent promised to reciprocate with a trip to the fast-growing African nation when the company had established an EKOCENTER there.

This week, Kent upheld his promise when Coca-Cola and a coalition of private- and public-sector partners celebrated the opening of a flagship EKOCENTER site in Ruhunda. The solar-powered facility will provide up to 25,000 local residents with access to a range of services – including wireless Internet, mobile charging and purified water. It also includes a retail store, improved medical services, and the only fully lit football field outside Rwanda’s capital of Kigali.

“We launched EKOCENTER because we know that our growth and our partners’ growth can only be sustainable when the communities we serve are strong,” Kent said Monday at a dedication ceremony attended by President Kagame, key stakeholders and community members. “By working across the ‘golden triangle’ of business, government and civil society, we believe we can support increased local investment and help make communities like Ruhunda more economically and socially sustainable.”

Launched by Coca-Cola in 2013 as a social enterprise initiative to empower communities and enable browth of both Coke’s business and local economies, EKOCENTER relies on partnerships to operate sustainably.

In Ruhunda, Ericsson helped build a new mobile phone tower to provide connectivity, while TIGO is providing 3G coverage for Internet access. Medshare provides medicines to the government-run health center. Pentair operates two water purification units providing up to 20,000 liters of safe drinking water daily, and Philips powers lighting for a new football field and surrounding areas, including the health center. Solarkiosk designed and operates the self-contained EKOCENTER, which is run by a woman entrepreneur and acts as a local retail store where solar solutions, basic necessities and Coca-Cola products are sold.

Muhtar Kent chats with President Kagame at the EKOCENTER dedication ceremony.

Kent said the new EKOCENTER – one of 20 operating in Rwanda – sets a “new gold standard for development.”

“I’ve never seen a more dynamic, more promising example of the power of partnerships than the one I’m seeing right here,” he added. “This new site will be a shining light to Coca-Cola’s worldwide system… one that shows what’s truly possible when people of good will work together. And, most importantly, it represents investment, growth and development, not through aid alone, but through truly sustainable economic operating models.”

Click here for an EKOCENTER infographic.

Coca-Cola and its partners have opened more than 100 EKOCENTERs in seven countries. By the end of 2016, the company plans to open at least 177 EKOCENTERs in 10 countries serving a potential population of approximately 1 million people. EKOCENTERs act as both a community center and general store. The kiosks are modular by design to allow local communities to customize a site to their needs. Learn more at www.coca-colacompany.com/ekocenter.