The mission of Grameen Danone Foods speaks for itself: to reduce poverty by bringing health through food to children using a unique community-based business model.
30% of all Bangladeshis and 56% of Bangladeshi children under the age of 5 suffer from moderate to severe malnutrition. The country has some of the highest child and maternal malnutrition rates according to UNICEF State of the World’s Children Report 2008. This in itself is a human tragedy. Malnutrition, however, is also a major impediment to development: malnourished people become sick more easily, can work less and find it more difficult to study. While Bangladesh produces sufficient rice to nourish its people, diets often lack vital nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
Social business solution:
Grameen Danone Foods was founded in 2006 in order to fight malnutrition. The joint venture produces a yoghurt enriched with crucial nutrients at a price of 6 BDT (= 0.06 EUR) which even the poorest can afford. However, Grameen Danone Foods affects people’s lives not only by improving their health. Benefits exist along the whole value chain. The milk for the yoghurt is purchased from micro-farmers. The production is designed in such a way as to give as many people as possible a job. Sales ladies distribute the yoghurt door-to-door and receive a 10% commission. Unsold yoghurts are taken back. In total, Grameen Danone Foods is responsible for the creation of about 1,600 jobs within a 30km radius around the plant.
There is also an environmental aspect: Solar energy is used for heating up the water, which is used for cleaning the installation and preheating water for the main boilers. In addition the packaging of the yoghurt is fully biodegradable.
Therefore Grameen Danone Foods contributes to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by the United Nations to end poverty.
Grameen Danone plans to expand. Within the next 10 years, more plants will be established and several hundred distribution jobs will be created. The Danone Communities Fund has been created to support this endeavor. The independent NGO The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) tested the benefits from a regular consumption of the yoghurt. Results show improvements in IQ and growth indicators among children consuming one yogurt a day for a year.
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