The Coca-Cola Company designed a kiosk to help communities in need

EKOCENTER a shipping container to give access to safe drinking water in 20 different countries

by Claudia Lorusso
2 Love 3089 Visits

The Coca-Cola Company, DEKA R&D, IBM, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group, McCann Health, NRG Energy, Inc. (NRG), Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and UPS®, today announced they will work together to bring EKOCENTERTM – a kiosk designed to improve the well-being of communities – to 20 countries by the end of 2015. 

Coca-Cola’s announcement brings to action its 2012 commitment with DEKA R&D to provide safe drinking water to communities through the SlingshotTM water purification system, ensuring communities are more sustainable.  Today, we are announcing that we will place between 1,500 and 2,000 units in the form of EKOCENTERs, “downtowns in a box,” or SlingshotTM water purification systems to deliver further services beyond clean water, in Africa, Asia, Latin America and North America by the end of 2015. Each EKOCENTER will offer a locally tailored mix of products, services and resources that may include safe drinking water, sustainable energy, wireless communications, refrigerated vaccination storage, health education, and other functionality to jump-start entrepreneurship opportunities and community development. Through this commitment, we aim to deliver 500 million liters of safe drinking water, while promoting greater local development in communities that need it most.  

Women and entrepreneurs from local communities will be recruited to operate each EKOCENTER, creating new opportunities for employment in the communities where we install and operate EKOCENTER. Entrepreneurs selected to operate the EKOCENTERs will be given business skills training similar to that provided by 
Coca-Cola’s 5by20 program, an initiative designed to economically empower 5 million women entrepreneurs across Coca-Cola’s value chain by 2020.

“EKOCENTER represents an investment in the future prosperity and progress of some of the most fragile and at-risk communities we serve,” said Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, TheCoca-Cola Company. “Through EKOCENTER we have the ability to change lives by offering access to safe drinking water and other needed resources, all while empowering local entrepreneurs. What started as an aspiration is now becoming a reality as we welcome our partners across the golden triangle of business, government and civil society to scale and improve this innovation.”

This collaboration is the first step in Coca-Cola’s long-term vision of deploying thousands of EKOCENTERs globally in the next decade. Currently, one EKOCENTER test site has been launched in Heidelberg, South Africa, and there are plans to install one additional EKOCENTER pilot by the end of 2013.

Through this cross-sector collaboration, Coca-Cola intends to marry its skills and know-how with that of other industry leaders to optimize and scale the EKOCENTER concept. Partners are expected to bring financial and in-kind support, including:

  • The Coca-Cola Company and its bottling partners will lead the project, managing the site selection, installation and maintenance of each EKOCENTER. They also will utilize their local operations to support on-the-ground needs and serve as a distribution channel for EKOCENTER placements. The Company led the EKOCENTER vision and design as well as the creation and installation of the prototype unit in South Africa.
  • The Coca-Cola Company & DEKA R&D will supply the SlingshotTM water purification system as well as design and infrastructure expertise to build and install EKOCENTER. DEKA R&D supported the design and creation of the first EKOCENTER test site in South Africa and also has an additional partnership with Coca-Cola to deliver safe drinking water using the Slingshot technology at schools, health clinics and community centers in Africa and Latin America.
  • IBM will contribute technology and business consulting services to provide high-level business plan development and technology plan development for EKOCENTER. IBM also will explore and advise on potential technology applications for treating return water.
  • IDB will provide funding and implementation support for EKOCENTER placements in Latin America. It also will help establish relationships with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to support health and sanitation education for communities receiving EKOCENTERs. IDB is a funding and implementation partner for Coca-Cola’s existing safe drinking water partnership with DEKA R&D in Latin America.
  • McCann Health, a part of McCann Worldgroup, will work with Coca-Cola and other partners to create a micro-business model for EKOCENTER. Additionally, it also will develop consumer-focused health and sanitation programs and messaging for communities receiving an EKOCENTER.
  • NRG is the official energy partner for EKOCENTER, providing solar panels and battery storage to power EKOCENTER, enabling each one to be a self-sustaining, off-the-grid operation. NRG also is assisting DEKA R&D with development of the StirlingTM engine technology which could provide another energy option for EKOCENTER in the long-term. NRG provided solar panels and battery storage for the first EKOCENTER test site earlier this year.
  • Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, will provide guidance to Coca-Cola on the inclusion of wireless communications technologies, such as mobile devices and wireless Internet connectivity, for EKOCENTER.
  • UPS will serve as a logistics partner, providing technical expertise on global operations and deployment of EKOCENTER.

SlingshotTM water purification system.


Coca-Cola also intends to work with TechnoServe as a strategic advisor for EKOCENTER. TechnoServe will help establish a sustainable business model and a metrics-based monitoring and evaluation plan, as well as support identifying and training local entrepreneurs for EKOCENTER.Coca-Cola has a long-term relationship with TechnoServe on key projects in Haiti and countries in Africa under its 5by20 and sustainable agriculture programs. 

At a broad level, EKOCENTER is intended to be a financially sustainable, globally replicable social enterprise model, run by primarily local female entrepreneurs. EKOCENTERs will initially operate with a Slingshot water purification system, power source and commercial space. The partnership will then work to grow the technology, once optimally developed, to be a fully equipped retail outlet.

While EKOCENTER’s core mission is to improve the physical well-being of people in rural communities, focused on providing safe drinking water to approximately 45,000 people in its first two years, it also offers other opportunities to communities.  Through EKOCENTER, the partners aim to empower communities through connectivity to information and the outside world; provide a safe gathering place; create jobs, skills and services; and offer incentives for local programs in a community, like recycling or sanitation services.

The Coca-Cola Company will work with its local bottling partners to ensure that the EKOCENTER and Slingshot technologies are working properly, and that the drinking water provided complies with applicable safe drinking water and health standards. EKOCENTER supports Coca-Cola’s commitment to replenish the water used in its beverages and their production, its 5by20 program to economically empower 5 million women entrepreneurs across its value chain by 2020, and its continued commitment to foster sustainable communities globally.

The Slingshot water purification technology, developed by DEKA R&D, utilizes vapor compression distillation technology to turn nearly any source of dirty water into safe drinking water. The Coca-Cola Company announced a partnership with DEKA R&D in September 2012 to install and operate 1,500 Slingshot water purification systems in rural communities in Africa,  Asia and Latin America with pilots starting in South Africa, Mexico and Paraguay in 2013.