Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Social Business Takes Its First Step With Shoktidoi (Energy Yoghurt)

Besides Micro-credit system, Social Business is another poverty reduction tool innovated by Dr. Muhammad Yunus. This model can be defined as a non-dividend non-loss company whose main objective is to address social problems. In a social business, the investors/owners of a company can recover the investment gradually, but can not take any profits in terms of dividend beyond that point. The most interesting feature of a social business is that no personal gain is desired, rather investors dedicate their profit to achieve one or more social objectives, such as, healthcare for the poor, housing for the poor, nutrition for malnourished children, providing safe drinking water etc.

As an example of social business, in early 2007, Grameen Foundation along with Groupe Danone, a large French corporation established a new Bangladesh-based company, Grameen Danone Foods Ltd. in order to launch a new dairy product called "Shoktidoi" or energy yoghurt. The purpose of developing this new type of product was to meet the specific nutritional needs of Bangladeshi children who most often suffer from malnutrition. The Yoghurt is made from fresh milk and consists of various micronutrients such as, vitamin, iron, zinc, calcium etc. The price for an 80 gram cup of Shoktidoi which is able to provide 30% of a child's daily requirements of micronutrients, had been set at only 5 BDT (Bangladeshi Taka) or around 6 Euro cents so that the poorest families in Bangladesh can find it affordable. It has been estimated that by the end of 2009, the yoghurt production plant will be able to reach 300,000 children.

Not only that, the Grameen Foundation has already invested in a second Social Business in the form of an Eye Hospital where the poor can have eye treatment and cataract operations at a very low cost. Hopefully this new concept of Social Business will soon be popular in other parts of the world too so that the desired millennium goals can be achieved by this decade.

-Nisha Noor