In October 2005, Danone Chairman and CEO Franck Riboud met Muhammad Yunus, who had founded Grameen microcredit bank and would soon win the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Together, the two men decided to explore the possibility of a Danone-Grameen partnership in Bangladesh, and in March 2006 announced the creation of Grameen Danone Foods, Ltd (GDFL) in Dhaka. GDFL aims to fight poverty and malnutrition in Bangladesh and to create positive social impact throughout its value cycle.
Why does it matter
In Bangladesh, over 54% of preschool-aged children—some 9.5 million youngsters—are malnourished, and 56% of them are underweight.
Bangladeshi children also suffer from high rates of micronutrient deficiencies, particularly vitamin A, iron, iodine and zinc. And all of these deficiencies have an immediate impact on physical and cognitive development.
Malnutrition is nearly as prevalent in towns and cities as in rural areas, affecting 38% of children, while stunting affects 42% of urban youngsters.
How does it work
"We need a new type of business that pursues goals other than making personal profit—a business that is totally dedicated to solving social and environmental problems," wrote Muhammad Yunus.
GDFL aims to overcome poverty in Bangladesh while being financially and economically sustainable and as community-relevant as possible. The company sells Shokti + yogurt—designed to deliver 30% of the daily requirement for iron, zinc, vitamin A and iodine—at an affordable price through a dense distribution system serving both urban and rural populations.
How does it create value
GDFL produces Shokti +, but the company generates broader social benefits as well. On the supply side, it supports small local farmers by buying their milk, and on the distribution side it provides work and empowerment for the 'Grameen Ladies' who sell GDFL products in rural areas.
The social impact created is one of the reasons why GDFL became B-CorpTM certified in 2018. The certification recognizes how GDFL is addressing the great issue of malnutrition with a business model that creates positive impact.
Photo credit: © Sandro di Carlo Darsa