Chapter 6Leveraging Grameen

When Nobel laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank, and Frank Riboud, the CEO of the French food-products conglomerate Group Danone (known as Dannon in the United States), shook hands in October of 2005, a bargain was struck that would forever change the lives of Bangladeshi children and forge a partnership that would take the social business to a new level. Given their bond of trust, that handshake is all the men would need to commit their organizations to a joint venture and a new company called Grameen Danone. To Yunus' surprise, Riboud shook on the deal before many of the details were even discussed. As far as Riboud was concerned, the bargain was struck as soon as Yunus proposed the idea of manufacturing healthy foods aimed at improving the diets of rural Bangladeshi children at a cost their families could afford. Their simple handshake was based on Grameen Bank's own moral imperative, pursuing risk and reward on the basis of a handshake and the integrity behind it, rather than a bevy of legal documents and the rights and obligations they technically memorialized.

Owing to Grameen Danone's efforts, children in rural Bangladesh have seen a direct improvement in their health. The company's yogurt named Shokti Doi—“Yogurt for Power”—provides children with a natural source of nutrients at a price equivalent to about 7 cents—something even the poor in Bangladesh can afford. Today the joint venture puts enough vitamin A, iron, zinc, ...

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