Small bottles, big dreams
Here’s a question – Where should you go if you want to see the biggest Coke bottle in the world? The Coca Cola Company’s headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia? Not quite. In fact, the sculpture is found more than 10.350 kilometers away, on the roof of the soft drink giant’s Ramallah headquarters. Impressive though it might be, to see the bottle merely as a symbol of Coca Cola’s international reach would be a mistake. Rather, the bottle should be seen as a super-sized testimony to the success of Mr. Zahi Khouri, the founder of the Palestinian National Beverage Company (NBC).
Having fled Palestine with his family in 1948, Mr. Khouri returned to his native country as a successful businessman in 1991, eager to create jobs and attract investments. Hoping to kickstart a new Palestinian economy, Mr. Khouri co-founded the Palestinian Development and Investment Company (PADICO) shortly after the signing of the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords. In 1998, in close co-operation with the Coca Cola Company, Mr.Khouri founded the NBC, becoming the multinational’s official franchise in Gaza and the West Bank.
Since its inception, the NBC has operated with a strong sense of corporate social responsibility. Having grown steadily since 1998, the company now operates four bottling facilities in the Palestinian territories, creating thousands of jobs. While boosting the local economy, numerous charities have also been created as extensions of NBC’s operation. As a staunch believer in the importance of human capital, Mr. Khouri set out early to work with Palestinians under 24, a demographic strata that in 2009 made up 55.4 % of the population. Funding a wide array of programs, Mr. Khouri today supports local sports teams, library-programs in public hospitals, waste water treatment plants, tech start-up funds, scholarship schemes for female students, and numerous other charities.
As an activist for the Palestinian cause on the international arena, Mr. Khouri remains hard at work creating growth in the local economy, all while leading by example when it comes to stressing the importance of intelligent investment in the most important asset of any community – its human capital.
In recognition of remarkable philanthropic work and achievements in sustainable business, Mr. Zahi Khouri is awarded the 2015 Business for Peace award.