Nutritionists for Danone say eating two cups of this yogurt per week will ensure a child gets all the vitamins and nutrients needed for proper development. Yunus is pushing Danone engineers to continue to refine the product to better meet the needs of customers. In particular, Yunus would like to see the company come up with ways to make the container the yogurt comes in edible.
“Poor people do not want to waste their money on something they will just have to throw out,” he said.
Danone is not the only company participating in social business projects. Uniqlo, a Japanese clothing company, has partnered with Grameen to create affordable sanitary napkins for low income Bangladeshi women and girls. Adidas is working on a social business that would make shoes affordable for low income Bangladeshis, which would significantly reduce transmission of parasitic infection.
Is selflessness sustainable?
Yunus is confident people will step up to the plate if given the opportunity to invest in social businesses.
“The essential fact about humans is that they are multidimensional beings," Yunus wrote in his book "Social Business." "Their happiness comes from many sources, not just from making money.”
People will invest in social business "just to share in the joy of making a difference in other people's lives," Yunus said, noting that American charitable donations total nearly $1 trillion per year.
In his experience working with Danone, Yunus has seen how committed people are to doing good. When the partnership between Danone and Grameen was initially conceived, investors were told they would receive a nominal one percent return on their initial investment, something that troubled Yunus but he was unsure how to avoid it.
At a 2009 board meeting, Danone executives announced they would be happy to receive their initial investment but would decline the one percent dividend. Yunus remembers cheering at this.
"It's maybe the first time in business history that owners were celebrating because a dividend payment has been waived," he said jokingly.
Yunus described the benefit of participation.
"The investors of Grameen Danone ... know that their sole benefit is the psychological and spiritual one of helping poor people halfway around the world. It's a remarkable sign of support for this ... investment concept."
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