Yesterday PepsiCo announced the beverage giant already achieved its 2015 goal of providing safe water to three million people in developing countries via partnerships with NGOs. The company, working with its eponymous foundation, has boosted water efficiency throughout its operations while working on the ground in emerging markets to tackle water scarcity and sanitation issues.
The company made its announcement at a conference hosted by the Columbia University Earth Institute, one of PepsiCo’s partners on water-related projects. Most of PepsiCo’s work on safe water has been in countries such as China, India, Mali, Brazil and other Latin American countries, where water conservation, distribution and sanitation projects have served underserved communities.
One of the PepsiCo Foundation grants was to the Safe Water Network, which provided $3.5 million in funds to develop safe water systems to 225,000 people between 2008 and 2011. Decentralized water treatment centers in rural areas as well as rainwater harvesting cisterns to boost water supplies in areas stricken by drought were among the projects Safe Water Network initiated with PepsiCo’s backing. PepsiCo also supports Safe Water Network by providing employee volunteers, or a “PepsiCorps,” who offer site assessments, water quality assurance and evaluations and best practices in water distribution to leaders in local communities.
Water.org is another NGO that has been able to scale up its projects in developing countries due to a PepsiCo Foundation grant. The Kansas City-based organization favors market-driven solutions that provide safe drinking water while building economic opportunities. Currently Water.org’s focus is to provide microloans for a variety of programs including private toilets, taps accessing municipal water supplies and rainwater harvesting systems.
PepsiCo joins multinationals such as Unilever and SAP that realize investing in emerging markets is more than just rolling out technological, food, beverage or consumer products with a few local ingredients and market pitches and therefore can reap more economic growth. Companies need a long term approach to show they are an engaged stakeholder in these new markets. A long term strategy will build trust, boost economic opportunities–and of course, develop a new market and brand awareness. PepsiCo has long understood this, and its safe water access complements other programs such as sustainable agriculture in such countries as Mexico and Ethiopia.
The company announced its safe water access programs are hardly finished; PepsiCo has pledged to continue its work with partners to provide another three million people cleaner drinking water and sanitation by 2016.
Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye is the editor of GreenGoPost.com and frequently writes about business sustainability strategy. Leon also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business; his work has also appeared on Sustainable Brands, Inhabitat and Earth911. He will speak at San Francisco State University on climate change, the media and business on Wednesday, April 3. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter or Instagram (greengopost).
[Image credit: PepsiCo]