Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rich Experience from Danone Grameen

Reading Danone’s Cheap Trick” on TIME’s 23 August 2010 brings me back to my primary school days where free chocolate milks were distributed to all students. I hate drinking chocolate milk (I like mine simply plain) so I would freeze my milk cartoon in the afternoon and a few hours later, I would be seen spooning my chocolate ice cream – much to the envy of my younger sis :)

Projek Susu Sekolah was launched by Tun Siti Hasmah in September 1983 under collaboration between Education Ministry and Syarikat Nutri-tional Products Sdn Bhd because she believed “Rakyat Sihat, Negara Maju”.

Over the years, such program no longer ran for free as students had to pay 30cents per cartoon and it was then solely distributed to poor students for free. And over the years, the quality and the quantity distributed yo-yoed, where there were reports of en masse food poisoning amongst students drinking the milk while some did not receive their ration as scheduled. Untimely, such thoughtful program was stopped in August 2007.

However, in May this year, Education Ministry had to come up with an explanation as of to why the Ministry is yet to revive the said program. The Ministry reasoned that their distributors are yet to be HACCP-certified, which is made compulsory by Health Ministry.

That is mind-boggling to me – is it that difficult to be HACCP-certified these days when we have reliable brand names to tap from and for RM25.0 M contract per year, I don’t think it is costly for such a newly-minted distributor to procure such important certification in F&B industry?

Anyway, reading the article also invigorate my hopes for this Ibu Pertiwi.

Here’s why.

Economics and Social Responsibility work!

Grameen Danone is an example of successful social businesses, by using corporate infrastructure to reach less privileged consumers, leveraging on local source of raw materials and local manpower (paid at local wages) to manufacture products that are direly needed by the surrounding community.

Multiplier effects of such business establishment are tremendous in any given society as

Innovation is a way forward

Instead of complaining that manufacturing costs keep skyrocketing, Grameen Danone incorporates innovations to keep the costs at reasonable level and their innovations surprisingly come from NGO and normal people that care for the poor. Such thinking-outside-the-box coupled to liberal business policies open many doors to future business opportunities for Danone and foster positive development of conscientious R&D generation that would contribute towards doing business friendly, holistically.

A good intention goes a long way

When we put our mind and soul into something that is beyond any benefits to ourselves, out of empathy, God, the Most Gracious and Merciful, will reward us in many ways and most of the time those kindness God bestowed upon us are being paid forward to others that deserve the most, even not in our short time on this beautiful world.

Grameen Danone isn’t supposed to bring in any money from their investment in Bangladesh, selling their products to the ultra-poors in the world so they could have sufficient nutrition. Still, they went ahead. The world’s largest yogurt maker is now eyeing the possibility of African markets and working along with many more innovators that would make healthy food affordable to all.

And for me, that’s the most beautiful thing one can do in life.

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