Grameen Danone – feeding the malnourished

March 20, 2011 | By More

Frank Riboud, Chairman & CEO of Groupe Danone with Muhammad Yunus

In Oct 2005, Muhammad Yunus and Mr Frank Riboud, Chairman and CEO of Groupe Danone agreed to create a Social Business to alleviate the problem of malnutrition in children in Bangladesh.

The company, Grameen Danone Foods, also had three other sub goals:

  • To alleviate poverty through the implementation of a unique proximity based business model.
  • To contribute in creating independent business and job opportunities in the farming, processing, sales and distribution sectors.
  • To provide easily affordable dairy product especially developed to fulfill the nutritional needs of children,
  • To protect the environment relying on solar & biogas energy and develop innovative, environment friendly packaging solutions for its products.

The Grameen Danone factory at Bogra

The resulting 800 sq m yoghurt factory was opened in Nov 2007 at Bogra in North Bangladesh with a maximum capacity of 10,000 kg per day. Each of the 80 gm cup of yoghurt costs 7 cents and made from locally produced fresh milk and includes cornstarch, date molasses, sugar and micro nutrients providing 30% of a child’s daily intake of vitamins, iron, zinc and iodine.

Sales is done by ‘village ladies’ and tiny shops in rural areas, transforming the economic situation of even beggars as a result, making them into entrepreneurs.

The plan is to build another 50 such factories all over Bangladesh and developing 500 mini dairy farms with 3-5 cows each, support with micro-credit by Grameen Bank and other Grameen companies.

Collecting fresh milk locally, and a 'Shakti Doi' yoghurt seller

Plans are also underway to investigate edible yoghurt cups by the Danone’s Laboratories in Paris. Danone is a leading food company operating in 120 countries with 88,000 employees and a turnover of 14 billion Euros.

Happy well nourished children

The lesson here is to start the Social Business small. The total paid up capital for Grameen Danone is only USD$1.103 million. Ensure all key partners understand that although it is a no-loss company, the investors are not expected to take back more than their initial investment (read more about Social Business principles).

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About the Author ()

EngTong, pioneer and innovator. Graduated from Imperial College London with an MBA from Cranfield School of Management. Lived in Scotland, England, California, Beijing and led teams in Italy, France, Japan, Taiwan and Malaysia to do the impossible. Now based in Singapore and believes the future is to blend the sophistication of western management practices with the strength of Asian Values. Trained as a Chartered Engineer. Member of IET, Associate of City and Guilds and a certified SixSigma Champion.

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