Danone is poised to test out a new business model in Bangladesh tailored to meet the needs of up to three billion consumers in developing countries who have less than US$2 a day to live on.
The French giant has created a 50:50 joint venture with “Bank for the Poor,” Grameen, which specialises in micro-credit of around US$120 to almost six million customers worldwide.
The JV, named Grameen Danone Foods, will next month open a very small-scale manufacturing plant in Bogra, situated 150 kilometres north of Dhaka, producing dairy products at affordable prices for the local population. As the project gathers momentum, as many as 50 mini-plants of this kind could be built in the longer term.
Rather than using trucks for distribution from the mini-plants, Danone is looking to put a system in place based on the use of bicycles and rickshaws with delivery staff bringing supplies each day to designated representatives in poor areas who would then go from door-to door distributing the dairy products to consumers who ordinarily would not be reached.
The initiative is a complete departure from Danone’s current system where one or two plants suffice to deliver to an entire country.