My Coca-Cola #5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship Event Experience @CocaColaCo

My Coca-Cola 5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship Event Experience @@CocaColaCo #5by20 #cocacola
Makeba Giles

Makeba Giles

Content Creator and Curator at MELISASource
Makeba Giles is an Health, Family, and Lifestyle Blogger. She is also a Midwest Mother of four, and the Founder and Creative Director of MELISASource.com. |

EMAIL: [email protected]
Makeba Giles

 

*As a Coca-Cola Blogger, my travel and accommodations for the Coca-Cola 5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship Event were provided by the company.

 

My mother worked at a candy factory when was growing up. Our family and household was well and financially stable at first. But when my Dad left our family when I was seven years old, our two-income household became one, and things started to change.

My mother did her best to keep the lives of my older brother and I as normal as possible for as long as she could by working overtime and taking additional shifts at the factory, but it wasn’t enough. Soon, we had to move from our large 5-bedroom home in the middle-class area of town to a small apartment in what was known as the projects. Sometimes the gas would get shut off, and my Mom would use space heaters in our rooms, and rise early every morning to heat water on an electric hot plate for us to take our baths. We could no longer afford the extravagant dinners she usually prepared for us after work. Instead, we ate TV dinners and frozen potpies – whatever was the cheapest on sale. My brother and I started off in private school, but as money grew tighter and tighter, we could not continue in private school in the latter years of our education.

I would oftentimes see her crying because she could not afford to get the things that we needed for school, or even the necessities we needed for home. Most times, she sacrificed buying herself clothes or a new pair of much-needed work shoes just to take care of us. It hurt me so bad that I wanted to do something – anything – to help. So, whenever she would bring candy home from her job for us, I would store it up and take to school to sell to my classmates without my mother knowing; saving the money in a box under my bed as I got it. Then, I would take the money and sneak it into her room, leaving it in places where she could find it. I would hear her exclaim in joy about it, and her reaction used to put the biggest smile on my face.

I was always looking for more ways to assist my mother financially. Prior to us moving, I attended camp every summer, and one year they taught us how to make photo frames out of fabric and cardboard. I took what I had learned, cut up some of my old clothes that I could no longer fit, and used cardboard from old shoe boxes around the house to make the photo frames to sell to people in the neighborhood. And just like the candy, I would take the money and put it somewhere in my mother’s room where I knew she would find it.

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The very first fabric hanging photo frame that I made by hand many years ago while at summer camp. I made many more using fabric from my old clothes, and sold them to help my family.

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Those years were hard for us. I felt good to know that, while it wasn’t much, I was able to do something to contribute to our family. I am sure that my mother used the money to pay utilities and the rent for our apartment, and to buy groceries, toiletries, and school supplies. Luckily, things became better for us, and after five years, we were finally able to move out of the projects in into a much better place.

Just like millions of other women around the world, to make things better for our family was all that I and my mother wanted. We were willing to take whatever resources and skills we had and use them to make money to support our household. That is the reason why I can deeply relate to the personal stories shared by women artisans at the 5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship event at the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Georgia earlier this week.

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At The Coca-Cola 5by20 Art Of Entrepreneurship Event in Atlanta, Georgia

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5by50 is Coca-Cola’s commitment to empower five million women entrepreneurs across the company’s value chain by the year 2020. Part of this empowerment includes women artisans from underprivileged communities around the globe, who take Coca-Cola beverage packaging materials and use them to create custom handmade items for purchase. The money generated from sells of the items provides the women with the income they need to support their families.

I heard the story of Sandy Yazmin Colohua Gomez, a 22 year-old woman from Chimulahaucan, a community near Mexico City. She shared her tough upbringing as a child of a landfill worker, and how the lack of money during those years motivated her to seek out better ways to provide for herself as she got older.

That is when Sandy discovered the 5by20 program in her community. Through the program, she learned about the art of weaving plastic labels, and used the skill to create custom handmade handbags. The money she earned from sales of the handbags has given her the income to finish school, provide for herself, and travel..

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My Coca-Cola 5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship Event Experience @@CocaColaCo #5by20 #cocacola
Watching as Sandy shares her journey of financial independence thanks to from Mitz Foundation.

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In Sandy’s community, Coca-Cola’s 5by20 program works with Mitz Foundation, an organization that provides women with training and job opportunities and scholarships for education. The organization also works to preserve the planet by creating handmade products using up-cycled packaging materials.

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My Coca-Cola 5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship Event Experience @@CocaColaCo #5by20 #cocacola

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My Coca-Cola 5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship Event Experience @@CocaColaCo #5by20 #cocacola
This weekend bag by women of Mitz is also handmade from recycled beverage labels.

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Judy Achar, Founder and President of The Mitz Foundation was at the event as well, and shared her personal story of why she was so passionate to start an organization such as Mitz.

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My Coca-Cola 5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship Event Experience @@CocaColaCo #5by20 #cocacola
Judy Achar, Founder and President of the Mitz Foundation, shares how her organization works to empower women, preserve the planet, and make a difference in underprivileged areas around the world. Here she shares a photo of a graduating class of one of her programs.

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My Coca-Cola 5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship Event Experience @@CocaColaCo #5by20 #cocacola
The work that Coca-Cola is doing with Mitz Foundation to produce products made from recycled beverage materials helps divert packaging from landfill sites, and has improved the livelihoods of 300 women.

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With Judy Achar of Mitz Foundation

 

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Kathleen Plate, Founder and Designer of Smart Glass Jewelry shared her personal journey as woman entrepreneur, and how just like me as a child, her entrepreneurial instincts shone through in her at a young age. Later on in life, she was able to combine that with her passion for environmentalism and education to not only launch her thriving glass jewelry business, but to also use her knowledge and expertise to partner with Coca-Cola and serve as a mentor to other women who dream of having the same success.

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My Coca-Cola 5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship Event Experience @@CocaColaCo #5by20 #cocacola
Kathleen Plate, Founder and Designer of Smart Glass Jewelry, shares how her childhood influenced her decision to start her business.

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My Coca-Cola 5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship Event Experience @@CocaColaCo #5by20 #cocacola
Kathleen makes tabletop arrangements, lamps, and even chandeliers from recycled glass.

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My Coca-Cola 5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship Event Experience @@CocaColaCo #5by20 #cocacola
With Kathleen Plate of Smart Glass Jewelry in front of one of her custom recycled glass pieces.

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“We have the power to touch all women across all of our units,” said Bea Perez, Chief Sustainability Officer of The Coca-Cola Company in sharing the meaning behind the Coca-Cola 5by20 initiative. And it is such a true statement. Since the initiative launched in 2010, 865,000 women have been empowered in 52 countries.

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My Coca-Cola 5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship Event Experience @@CocaColaCo #5by20 #cocacola

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At the end of the Coca-Cola 5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship Event, I got the chance to see some of the handmade items crafted by women artisans up close. The style, creativity, and attention to detail of each of the pieces is simply phenomenal.

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My Coca-Cola 5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship Event Experience @@CocaColaCo #5by20 #cocacola

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My Coca-Cola 5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship Event Experience @@CocaColaCo #5by20 #cocacola
Beautiful Christmas tree ornaments created by UPAVIM, a group of Artisans in Guatemala.

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My Coca-Cola 5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship Event Experience @@CocaColaCo #5by20 #cocacola

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My Coca-Cola 5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship Event Experience @@CocaColaCo #5by20 #cocacola
These bracelets were created entirely from locally sourced recycled aluminum ring-pulls and elasticized thread.

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My Coca-Cola 5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship Event Experience @@CocaColaCo #5by20 #cocacola

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While viewing the pieces, I could not help but to think of the hands that made them. The women artisans who are able to buy essential items for their homes, and secure better access education for their children – all because of their involvement with the Coca-Cola 5by20 program. I also found it amazing that because of the handmade now being available for purchase online and in Coca-Cola stores throughout the United States, women in countries around the world will now have more income for themselves and their families.

The Coca-Cola 5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship Event is one that I will never forget. Coming into the event, I was feeling a little discouraged about my own journey as an entrepreneur. But after hearing the stories of Sandy, Judy, and Kathleen, and learning more about the challenges of women entrepreneurship in other countries, not only did I feel inspired and energized, I also felt empowered that I could make a difference in the lives of other women who feel the same way that I did so many years ago. It was truly a remarkable experience.

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 Coca-Cola 5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship Event 

My Coca-Cola 5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship Event Experience @@CocaColaCo #5by20 #cocacolaFor the first time ever, handmade items made by women artisans participating in the Coca-Cola 5by20 initiative can be purchased online. The collection includes something for everyone with a range of 15 products including handbags, jewelry, belts, iPad covers, holiday ornaments, decorative items, and notebooks. All the items are made from repurposed aluminum cans, plastic and glass bottles, Coca-Cola labels, can pull tabs and bottle caps.

The items are all uniquely handmade by women in Mexico, Turkey, Brazil, Philippines, Guatemala, UK and Kenya, and every item purchased directly benefits the women artisan and her community.

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You can view and purchase the items shown above and additional items from the collection online now at: www.Coca-ColaStore.com or www.ShopCoke.com and they can ship worldwide. The items are also available at the Coca-Cola Stores located in Atlanta and Las Vegas.

 

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 Coca-Cola 5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship Event 

To learn more about the 5by20 initiative, visit: www.5by20.com.

To learn more about the work of the Mitz Foundation, visit: www.mitz.org.mx. You can also connect with Mitz on Facebook and Twitter.

To see the full Coca-Cola line of glass jewelry by Kathleen Plate, visit: www.smartglassjewelry.com.

 Coca-Cola 5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship Event 

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29 Comments

  • Beautiful coverage and photos, Makeba! It went much too fast, and I’m sad that I didn’t get to meet you during this fantastic event. So inspiring… you captured it well.

  • This post is very inspiring. It’s nice that Coke is doing this project. I just love how all the crafts are creatively done.

  • This is so much fun and the creations are amazing. Didn’t know Coke had such a program to support arts and crafts. Kudos for them and for you!

  • What a beautiful heartfelt story you share. I love this project by coke. So wonderful. Women business owners can do amazing things. I love the empowerment, and can I please have that handbag??

  • This is such an inspiration! I love the weekend bag and jewelry that has been so creatively constructed! Your story along with so many other women who have struggled and perservered are in my heart.

  • This is wonderful … I love how Coca Cola gives back to the communities they are in – I have seen several of these products in the gift shop at the World of Coca Cola museum.

  • The Mitz program sounds like an incredible opportunity for women that need a hand. I can always appreciate an organization that works to help others better their lives.

  • What an awesome way for coca cola to give back. And I loved your story of helping your family. I know you mom is super proud of you!

  • The jewelry made with Coca-Cola products is pretty incredible! I love that glass necklace. It’s really neat to see what people can do and I love hearing about Coca-Cola 5by20!

  • I had never heard of this program before, but it sounds like an amazing way to give back to the world. Thank you for sharing this information and I can’t wait to go look at the online store! This is an amazing program.

  • This is awesome. Most people depend on coffee, i depend on coca cola! So this? AWESOME. What an amazing and worthwhile event. I’m so touched by this whole post. Coca cola does such good!

  • This is just brimming with creativity. I love how all these women are putting their gifts to good use. It’s inspiring! Kudos to Coca-Cola for supporting this cause and for empowering more women in the world.

  • Very imaginative recycled items! Those recycled glass items are especially interesting. Bravo to you and these other lady entrepreneurs.

  • I love to see items made from everyday things and recycled into something amazing. I also love to see when companies have great programs to help those in need.

    • I love the Coca-cola product, brand and especially their projects. They always find ways to give back to the community and the environment. They are a good example of green/social marketing.

  • This is an extremely meaningful event! Living in the digital world, I often forget to notice there are so many other people out there who needs our help and empowerment! Will look up more about the initiative and share it!

  • I’m very touched by your story, Makeba. It’s very similar to my own. I love these handmade creations, both because the recycle, and because they help women earn money.

  • Kudos to Coca Cola for this wonderful campaign. The crafts are simply amazing. I love the Christmas Tree ornaments.

  • What an incredible and inspiring post… It really is an amazing initiative… Coca Cola are doing really great things…

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