Grameen Group Thursday signed an agreement with Groupe Danone, a French dairy company, aiming to provide nutrition to the low income and nutritionally-deprived population of the country.
The joint venture project, titled Grameen Danone Foods, a social business enterprise, will establish its first factory in Bogra involving $ 1.0 million (10 lakh).
Leaders of four Grameen enterprises--Grameen Byabosha Bikash, Grameen Shakti, Grameen Kalyan and Grameen Telecom--signed the agreement on behalf of the local side.
Speaking on the occasion, Grameen Bank Founder and Managing Director Muhammad Yunus said an enterprise is created not to maximise the profit, but with a declared mission to maximise benefits to the people served, without incurring losses.
"It is a small project to begin with, that contains the seed of a new breed of business which can change the economic world fundamentally", he said.
Groupe Danone Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Franck Riboud said the goal of this partnership is to ensure health through food to the largest number of people in Bangladesh.
He said the Groupe Danone is the world leader in fresh dairy products and bottled water that has been able to sell US$ 16 billion products in 2005 across the world.
"A total of 35 per cent sales of Groupe Danone's are made in the developing countries and most of its 200 factories and 89,500 employees are located in Asia", he added.
Yunus, who also conceived the idea of the social business enterprise, expected that the factory would be able to start operation by September next.
He said the company will focus on the rural children who are being deprived of their basic nutritional needs.
"We'll first produce Yogurt for such children fixing very affordable price', he added.
The initiative will also help eradicate poverty through the implementation of a unique proximity-based business model along with creating job opportunities in the farming, processing, sales and distribution sector, he further said. Grameen Danone will use solar energy and bio-gas for its operations and develop friendly packaging solutions for its products, he said.
He expected that with the successful completion of the project, they would set up 50 plants within next 10 years, in the rural areas of the country.
Initially Grameen Danone will launch easily affordable product -Yogurt-to fulfil the nutritional needs of children by bringing them the benefits of milk and other micronutrients.