Is wealth creation the new philanthropy?

Crate detail
An AidPod’s view of a Coca-cola crate – so much unused space!

Preparing for the Rotterdam conference has served as a reminder that the private sector is there TO MAKE MONEY. People outside the sector say to me, over and over again:

“But why wouldn’t they [Coca-Cola] just do it [ColaLife]?”

The answer is that they will not do anything that interferes with the money making machine.

You can debate the rights and wrongs of this as long as you like but ColaLife is not a debating society! We are trying to work with what’s already there and put things together in new and creative ways to solve an age old disaster that unfolds in developing countries every single day.

So what if the Coca-Cola distributors who took aidpods in their crates made more money than those that didn’t? We’ve always said that this is a possible model but perhaps it should be THE model.

Coca-Cola always say that their bottlers and distributors are ‘independent’ businesses, which is technically true, but I have seen the look of panic on the face of an ‘independent’ distributor when you put an aidpod in one of ‘their’ crates of Coca-Cola.

The fact is that Coca-Cola is very powerful and the livelihoods of most of their small distributors depend on a strong relationship. Distributors would not want to do anything that would jeopardise that relationship. So Coca-Cola would have to agree, or even encourage, their distributors to increase their income by carrying aidpods in Coca-Cola crates.

So perhaps our strategy, in terms of our relationship with Coca-Cola, should be simply to get them to agree to, and ideally promote, the notion of their distributors carrying aidpods in their crates and getting paid for doing so.


  1. Or to put it another way…
    Would the project thrive if the distributors were expected to always do it for free?

    i.e. would it continue to work after the first flash of good PR?

    Sorry if this sounds harsh but we have all heard such phrases as ‘what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done’ and others. What will make the ColaLife distribution carry on?
    What ‘mechanisms’ make the distributors get the Coke out to the people? Surely ColaLife has to emulate those?


    p.s. who is paying anyway?


  1. Simon Berry says:

    Is wealth creation the new philanthropy? #colalife

  2. Simon Berry says:

    RT @colalife: Getting real. We need to play the private sector at their very own game:

  3. […] on from my post of yesterday pointing out that if ColaLife is going to succeed it needs to recognise and respect the profit […]

  4. btrunk says:

    Is wealth creation the new philanthropy?

  5. brian trunk says:

    Is wealth creation the new philanthropy?

  6. TEDx London says:

    Abi Palmer on ColaLife

  7. […] ColaLife project with great interest. Recently you posted a section on your blog entitled ‘Is wealth creation the new philanthropy?‘. This got me thinking about how the aidpod itself could generate income. You may have […]