A visit to Grameen-Danone: the model of social business March 25, 2008Posted by bdoza in AGRICULTURE, BANGLADESH, ECONOMY, People, Yunus.
Tags: Dr. Muhammad Yunus, Grameen, Grameen-Danone, social business
I felt an impulse to visit the Gramen-Danone plant when I learned from the internet that Grameen Danone is built on the model of social business- a concept knitted by Dr. Muhammad Yunus. ‘Social business is not to achieve personal gain but to pursue specific social goals’ he said in his book ‘Creating a World without Poverty-social business and the future of capitalism’.
I took a break of 2 days from my job and traveled 600 km to see the project by myself.
I took primary information from one of my friends staying at Bogra. Then I contacted the Resident Engineer who was in the charge of the project over telephone and expressed my interest and hinted that I may come any day.
Within a week of my contact, I reached Bogra, a town in the northern part of Bangladesh. I am informed that the project is only a few kilometers from the town.
I reached there and after initial formalities, I met with the project incharge. He gave me a brief idea on the project. After passing through conceptual and implementation phase, the plant starts its production on 27th February 2007. I could remember Zinedine Zidane, the great footballer of French who came to Bangladesh to inaugurate the plant at Bogra and played football with young children (I am a fan of Zidane and was shocked at his expulsion from the final match in the last world cup).
The project has its own water treatment plant, waste management plant and self power supply by solar energy plant. But he was not very much narrative not to disclose any business secret to a blogger!
I was also informed from a different source that the plant is producing 12000 cup of yogurt, each cup weighing 80 gm approx. 1000 kg daily. It is less than the target initially set. The plant has the capacity to produce 72000 cup/day approx. 6000 Kg. The milk is collected from a dairy project of Grameen itself from a nearby district. The present products are distributed to the Bogra district only. To cover full Bangladesh 50 more plants will be required to be built in different districts. The initiators have the plan to do that but it will take 10 more years.
I was most impressed with my small exchange of views with Mr.Gwenoef Gaigeard (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) who was working with a laptop and I took the opportunity to show my blog and also of Sabines’ ‘Expanding Yunus Sphere’. He is from French and working on behalf of Danone in this plant
Coming back to town, I explored the local market and found that the yogurt is available. I bought a few pieces of the yogurt to have a taste. It is presented in a small cup, with a sticker to cover the cup and to display the name and properties The name given is Sakti Dai (Power Yogurt) is impressive and fortified with iron, zinc, vit A and iodine. The manufacture and expiry date has a difference of one week. The price of each cup is Tk 5, lower than other products available and those are also not fortified.
I liked the taste but not liked by my hosts- a physician couple. You see taste differs from person to person.(Incidentally Bogra is famous for Yogurt in Bangladesh from long before).
I am told that Dr. Muhummad Yunus is coming to see the plant but I missed him by 2 days.
It was beyond the reach of the ordinary citizen to explore the financial viability of the plant.
He only hopes best for its future and thanks to Grameen and Danone for their joint initiative to change the nutritional status of the children, 50% of whom are below optimum level in Bangladesh.
It may take long time to have an overall impact on the nutritional state of the country. But the concept of social business will inspire others to change the present state of poverty in the world.
An ordinary citizen