Last month, ten bloggers from different parts of the world visited an EKOCENTER in the small, remote village of Twundi, Tanzania as part of a larger trip to witness Coca-Cola social initiatives in action across the country. The other two initiatives introduced were Project Last Mile and 5by20– all three left a lasting impression.  

As Blogger Laura Allmayer put it, “Each initiative is about sustainability and enabling the people involved to grow and improve. Ultimately what they are doing is teaching people to fish rather than just giving them the fish.” 

Blogger Laura Allmaye connects with her traveling companions during a bus ride to the next site. 

With EKOCENTER, The Coca-Cola Company and its partner Solarkiosk are equipping local, women entrepreneurs with the business skills required to sell products to make a living (read about the complementary 5by20) while providing a community gathering spot where people can gain access to basic necessities otherwise far out of reach.

In Twundi, the bloggers experienced the local challenges, as they met residents who have had little or no access to electricity and share the same, unclean water tap. With the arrival of a new EKOCENTER, the villagers now have access to safe drinking water, solar panel-powered electricity and Internet connectivity. 

Blogger Sally Whittle admits, “Maybe I knew there were still places in the world where people slept on the floor in mud huts, without access to water, electricity or contact with the outside world – but I didn’t know what those places look like. I certainly didn’t know that multi-national corporations are now a critical part of the fight against these problems.”    

EKOCENTER was developed with a vision to be a community center where people gather and have access to products, services, clean drinking water, electricity, and Internet connectivity— necessities missing in many places around the world as nearly 800 million people lack access to safe drinking water.

South African blogger Lebogang Xolo speaks with her colleague ahead of the EKOCENTER launch in Tundwi. 

Blogger Lebogang Xolo, writes, “I know after seeing this project, I want to do more. Blogging is not enough, I want to go out there and make a difference.”  

With 25 EKOCENTERs operational in countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, Vietnam, Rwanda, Ghana and Tanzania, Coca-Cola and partners aim to place 150 EKOCENTERs in communities in need by 2015. 

“I think the EKOCENTER concept is absolutely genius and applaud all the partners involved with the design and execution,” praised Stefanie Fauquet of Mommy Musings

Mike Mushi, Global Shapers Community blogger, questioned whether providing water for free is the best operational decision—a valid point worthy of exploration. “There will be a misuse of the water because it’s given for free, something I am sure Coca-Cola is not aiming for. Selling the purified water even for a minimal price will sustain the village business and help in maintenance of the centers, or further developing them into Internet accessible areas,” wrote Mushi. 

Seeing 5by20 program in action in busy Dar Es Salaam

Through this social initiative tour the bloggers experienced firsthand the very feelings that are so hard to describe in words: gratitude, inspiration and hope. Reflecting on her experience, Whittle concluded, “For all the struggle I saw in Tanzania, I loved seeing stories that should give us hope.” 

Check out more blog posts from the Tanzania trip:
Memoirs 4 My Munchkins
The Ana Mum Diary