Preeti Gupta is a wife, mother and entrepreneur in a small village 15 kms outside Agra. There was a time when Preeti and her family went without electricity for days on end. With school-going children and a shop that needed to be kept open at all hours, an intermittent supply of electricity was causing their family much despair.

To her joy, a beacon of hope came from the most unexpected quarter - a solar cooler.

As part of Coca-Cola’s 5by20 initiative, to economically empower women, the Company installed a solar cooler at Preeti’s shop. The solar cooler would not only help chill beverages, but it had an inbuilt mobile phone charger and port from where a solar lantern could also be charged. Consumers who ended up at Preeti Gupta’s shop started getting chilled Coca-Cola products and while they would enjoy the product, they would nominal money to get their mobile phones charged off the mobile port. 

Preeti’s shop, which was one of the only one of its kind with such ‘innovative services’, suddenly was the talk of the town. Remember that most rural parts of India still only get intermittent supply of electricity and sometimes, no electricity at all. The solar lantern, in turn, helped Preeti Gupta keep her shop open till late evenings, since her kiosk would be the only one awash in light. Others shops depended on electricity off the grid, which was mostly not there. 

Preeti’s was soon a thriving retail outlet of FMCG products. Over the last 4 four years, she has done well for herself. She can now afford to send her children for education in a private school – a luxury for most parents in rural India. 

Here’s Preeti’s story in her own words

With a target of installing 1000 such solar coolers at women-owned, small retail shops in rural India, the aim of Coca-Cola’s 5by20 programme is to economically empower 5 million women entrepreneurs by 2020. Solar coolers serve the dual purpose of maintaining energy efficiency, while helping boost revenue and enhancing the lives of not only these women, but also their families. They help cut costs incurred from electricity bills and help keep the shops open after sunset, meaning more customers and more sales. In areas where frequent power outages occur, these coolers are proving to be shining beacons of hope.

A shining example of how a simple yet effective innovation can help us make the best of renewable energy, in turn, impacting the lives of people in multiple ways.