Growing together with communities
Danone is acting to promote inclusive growth, and to create opportunity for all segments of the population to share in increased prosperity.
In many high income economies, inequality has risen to the highest levels in thirty years, and around the world, more than 1.3 billion people still live in extreme poverty. Acting to counter this trend is part of Danone’s dual commitment to business success and social progress, and a pillar of 2030 strategy. We believe economic inclusion propels the global growth and stability that we need to thrive as a global company.
As part of our efforts to foster inclusive growth, Danone is working to help empower vulnerable people in our global community, both professionally and by promoting access to clean water and nutrition.
A major goal around creating inclusive economic growth involves giving people what they need to participate fully in economic life, from training and skills to fair wages. Danone is working to do by this empowering vulnerable communities linked to its value chain, including farmers, waste pickers, street vendors, and caretakers
Agriculture is at the heart of Danone’s business, and Danone works with over 140,000 farmers, including many family farmers. Through levers like the Livelihoods Funds and the Danone Ecosystem Fund, we help empower family farmers by providing equipment and training in sustainable and regenerative practices or by providing stable contracts that allow farmers to invest in the future.
In the Mount Elgon region of Kenya, for instance, Danone is supporting a Livelihoods project involving 30,000 farmers that will help restore 20,000 hectares of land. Launched in 2016, the project uses smart agricultural practices to increase milk production and create a sustainable supply chain for local farmers to Brookside, a local milk company in which Danone owns a stake.
Micro-distribution is an inclusive business model with the potential to empower vulnerable populations and drive local development, while expanding access to healthy foods and beverages. Danone and the Danone Ecosystem Fund have worked with local partners to co-create micro-distribution projects in 9 countries. The projects focus on helping vulnerable populations, mainly women from underprivileged areas, become entrepreneurs.
In Brazil, for instance, we are working Visao Mundial, Aliança Empreendedora and the Interamerican Development Bank to empower women from the poorest communities in Brazil through Kiteiras, a direct-to-consumer distribution program. The program creates a micro-distribution network of door-to-door vendors and provides participants with training in entrepreneurship, adapted nutrition and life skills. It has empowered over 2,300 people so far (2,000 of them women).
An estimated 16 million waste pickers worldwide who collect, sort, and sell plastics to recycling plants are at the nexus between social and environmental responsibility. While they are key actors in the circular economy, they often work in informal and unsafe conditions. Danone and the Danone Ecosystem Fund are working to empower waste pickers in 8 countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico and Ghana, by helping to bring them into the formal sector, ensuring they are paid higher wages and afforded greater social protections.
In Ghana, Danone brand FanMilk and the Danone Ecosystem Fund teamed up with Environment 360°, WIEGO and the MIT D-Lab to launch the “Pick-it!” project. The project Is creating a sorting center to improve waste picker working conditions and help divert waste from landfills. It is also helping waste pickers organize and engage with key public stakeholders. Launched in 2017, Pick-It! has empowered 152 people to date.
Caregivers play an essential role in all societies, helping to keep us healthy at all stages of life, and yet many caregivers struggle with a lack of training and connection to other health care professionals. For Danone, caregivers are key allies in the effort to ensure that new parents, elderly and people struggling with illness get the care and support they need. Together with its partners, Danone and the Danone Ecosystem Fund have co-created 17 projects to support and empower caregivers.
In Romania, Danone Early Life Nutrition and the Danone Ecosystem Fund teamed up with White Cross and Red Cross Romania to create the Stand by Mums association, a network of perinatal educators trained to educate and support mothers & parents-to-be by providing nutritional advice and perinatal care. The project has empowered over 650 perinatal educators by providing medical and entrepreneurship training, and connecting them with a broad support network.
Access to water and nutrition
Another pillar of the inclusive growth economy is health and nutrition. Today, over 462 million adults and tens of millions of children are malnourished, and the United Nations estimates that within the next ten years, 2 billion people around the world will still lack access to safe drinking water. DanoneCommunities is working to address these challenges, and expand access to safe drinking water and nutrition through social businesses.
Danone Communities has invested in five social businesses focused on addressing malnutrition in Bangladesh, China, France and Senegal.
In Bangladesh, where nearly half of all children lack proper nutrition, Danone and Grameen created a joint-venture, Grameen Danone Foods Ltd.,to develop Shokti+, a special yoghurt enriched in micronutrients. Through Grameen Danone, Danone has social impact upstream and downstream: milk is sourced from 475 local farmers to produce Shokti+, and 250 women micro entrepreneurs earn income by selling the yoghurts door-to-door. Overall, Grameen Danone reaches 300,000 kids and sells 100,000 yoghurt cups per day.
To expand access to safe drinking water, Danone Communities has invested in five social businesses in eight countries, including Cambodia, India, Madagascar, Mexico, Haiti, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.
In 2017, Danone Communities invested in Jibu. This social business is empowering local entrepreneurs to start their own water franchises, effectively decentralizing water treatment. So far through Jibu 550 jobs have been created, 195 businesses have been launched, and over 45 million liters of safe drinking water have been distributed. Currently operational in Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya, Jibu plans to expand its successful model to other countries in the future.
To promote inclusive growth effectively, we must understand our impact. Today there is no global consensus on how to best measure social impact. This is why we have been working with a range of partners, from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to the University of Michigan, to help develop robust models and methodologies that can be used by businesses and stakeholders everywhere.
Danone co-founded the Social Business, Enterprise & Poverty Chair at HEC Paris. We are also working with the HEC Society and Organizations (SnO) Center to better define and measure inclusiveness and social impact. For instance, Danone and SnO are developing a Professional Empowerment Impact Guide, building upon a methodology developed by the Danone Ecosystem Fund.