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In her work with the Gates Foundation, Melinda French Gates visits loads of places in developing countries where people have no electricity, no running water, no decent shelter. "I'm startled by all the things that they don't have," she said during a TEDx talk last month. "But I'm surprised by the one thing that they do have: Coca-Cola. Coke is everywhere."

And so Gates set out to study why the Coca-Cola Company can get their products to remote places never blessed with necessities like vaccines and toilets. "If they can do that, why can't governments and NGOs do the same thing?" she wondered.

Gates identified the three keys to Coke's success, and nonprofits who struggle to serve people in far-flung places would do well to take note. Tracking and using real-time data, tapping into local entrepreneurial talent and marketing strategically have made Coke products a hot commodity around the globe. Just imagine what the world would look like if quality health care, education and food security were as in demand and easily available to everyone.

Heifer International is partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in East Africa to help dairy farmers improve milk production and distribution. Learn more about the project here.


Austin Bailey

Austin Bailey is a writer and editor for Heifer's World Ark magazine.