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Coca Cola Flowing Through the Jordan River Foundation

September 16, 2011

Tour of the Middle East- Part 1: Jordan

-          The following series of posts will take you on a country by country tour of the Middle East, showing how economic development occurs in one of the most unstable regions in the world.

With the ten year anniversary of 9/11 coming and going, it is easy to make comparisons to where the United States was then, and where it is now.  Certain comparisons are natural to make: homeland security, number of troops enlisted, and economic benchmarks to name a few.  An interesting statistic that has not drawn much attention is our country’s non-government, charitable foreign aid.  U.S. citizens are giving at an all-time high to organizations that provide better lives to the impoverished and war torn citizens of nations around the world.  However, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, only 5% of all philanthropic flows are sent to the Middle East region.

Some organizations and companies have realized that stereotyping the entire Middle East population as one entity is both wrong and can lead to unrealized business opportunities.  Coca-Cola started a venture in 2010 with the Jordan River Foundation (JRF), an organization led by Queen Rania of Jordan.  Since its creation 15 years ago, the JRF has become one of the leading domestic groups advocating a better life for all Jordanians.  Coca-Cola saw the progress being made in Jordan due in large part to foundations like the JRF and decided to play a part in the development.  The Youth Volunteer Program, a sub-group of the JRF, is the largest volunteer project of its kind.  For Coca-Cola, the partnership is not only supporting a meaningful cause, but also creating brand loyalty among the younger generation in Jordan.

Representatives from the JRF and Coca-Cola Middle East meet to discuss this years volunteer efforts

While corporations like Coca-Cola can offer time and money to help with economic development, companies like Microsoft are in a unique position to use their products and industry knowledge to spur progress.  In its third year of existence, the Innovative Education Forum (IEF) in Jordan is raising the bar for education in the Middle East.  Microsoft will attempt to duplicate their efforts in all corners of the Middle East, hoping to match the success they have seen in Jordan.

Since September 11, 2001 many people living in deplorable conditions throughout the Middle East have had their development goals hampered by connotations surrounding their government or by third party extremism.  These two public private partnerships demonstrate the value in promoting development in the Middle East despite the region’s touchy reputation in the U.S.  The shift from using government dollars for foreign aid to strategic development alliances that teach skills that will have a long lasting effect is a move that companies like Coca-Cola and Microsoft are spearheading.  While this can lead to an improved life for many people abroad, it can also help to build a stronger connection between the East and the West.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Jesse permalink
    September 20, 2011 4:35 pm

    very interesting read and informative!

  2. ay mayage permalink
    September 22, 2011 1:19 am

    awesome information, keep em comin’

  3. Shuggy permalink
    September 22, 2011 1:26 pm

    Interesting article but I’d like to bring up a point about corporations giving “aid”. It seems that many companies give “aid” by creating programs that will create reliance on their products such as you stated in the article about Coca-Cola “creating brand loyalty among the younger generation in Jordan”. Can this be considered “aid” when corporations’ intentions consist of developing a larger consumer base or is it just capitalism at its finest? Is it beneficial for the recipient countries to gain the knowledge and technology from these “alliances” if this means that transnational corporations will only get richer, ultimately widening the gap between developed and developing countries?
    Very interesting article and a lot to think about.

  4. Al Urdun Inmind permalink
    September 22, 2011 6:12 pm

    Shuggy makes good points about the motivations and effects of “aid”. We have to think critically about foreign aid and the long-term impacts projects leave behind.
    I would add that the idea of connecting the east and west is an attractive one, especially to the interests of the US. It could be used to break down some of the harmful ideas Americans have of the Middle East and vise versa, in a process of partnership over time. We have to consider, however, if “strategic development” by large multinational corporations is done for the people of Jordan or for the foreign policy interests of the United States.
    This article got me thinking. Keep it up!

  5. myesss permalink
    September 24, 2011 12:36 am

    i think its an obvious assumption to make that coca cola has self-promoting aims largely in mind. its a profit driven organization, thats capitalism. i doubt, however, that it is involved in some u.s. gov’t plot to improve international relations. their self interests, though, don’t mean there aren’t other reasons they decided to get involved and fund- yes, throw money at- such awesome developmental projects. companies have entire departments and staffs dedicated to philanthropic projects- always looking for opportunies to promote the brand, sure. but in the mean time they afford organizations such as the jrf their own opportunities. any influx in the jordan’s economy that helps the oh-so dangerous western corporations is still a great thing domestically. the presence of a well-run organization that puts just as much back in for the betterment of jordan’s standard of living is ultimately a great thing for all parties.

  6. interesting... permalink
    September 29, 2011 1:55 am

    I agree with myesss that, while not necessarily ideal, having private companies such as Coca-Cola and/or Microsoft provide aid and establish these organizations can be very beneficial. I don’t think anyone is kidding themselves and thinking that there isn’t something in it for these companies – but does that make it wrong and/or less impactful? Why can’t there be dual motives? Plus, like myesss said, companies have whole departments dedicated to this – of course there is a level of promotion in it, but must we be so cynical to think that there can’t also an element of human generosity and kindness? This consideration aside, what I actually found most interesting was the statistic from the beginning of the post – that only 5% of the philanthropic flow is to the Middle East Region. While it is great that private companies are stepping up to fill that void – what is behind this statistic? Is this due to citizens contributing to more specific charities that do not send aid to the Middle East, or is it that larger philanthropic organizations intended to aid many regions are not giving sufficient aid to the Middle East? If it is the latter – what can citizens do about this? Appeal to the organizations? Support these public-private ventures? This is definitely something interesting to explore further.. thanks for sharing this topic – definitely a lot to think on!

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