March 21, 2008
For me, the truly life-changing contributor to the conference came in the person of Emmanuel Faber, co-Chief Operating Officer of Groupe Danone, a French-based multi-national corporation that produces many food and beverage products, such as Evian water, Dannon Yoghurt, and Lu cookies, to name a few of their many brands. Danone is one of the top 100 largest corporations in the world, with 100,000 employees in 40 countries.
About two years ago, Danone entered into a partnership with the Grameen Bank to form the Grameen Danone Foods company. The company has created a new form of small-scale factory in a village in Bangladesh, set up a process for buying milk and hiring all staff on the local market, and designed a new highly fortified yoghurt product aimed at providing 30% of the daily nutrition requirements of impoverished Bangladeshi children. The new company also implemented an innovative marketing strategy using Grameen borrowers as the sales force. Another breakthrough was the establishment of a new financing company in France called the Danone Communities Fund to attract investment capital through the French stock market for this project and other Social Business projects.
Emmanuel Faber is the man who organized the international project to design, build, and finance the Grameen Danone factory, as well as to design and develop its tasty and nutritious yoghurt product. He also personally designed and achieved rapid regulatory approval for the Danone Communities Fund financing vehicle.