New company emerges to fight malnourishment in BangladeshApril 2009
Improved health and business opportunities among the poor of Bangladesh are the aims of a new joint social business venture established by BASF, the chemicals group, and the Grameen Healthcare Trust, a non-profit organization set up by the Bangladeshi Grameen Bank to eliminate poverty and hunger.
The new company, BASF Grameen, will start by marketing dietary supplement sachets containing vitamins and micronutrients and impregnated mosquito nets to give protection against insect-borne disease.
Initially the dietary supplements will be distributed through schools and pharmacists. In towns the mosquito nets will be sold in food and clothing stores and pharmacies. In rural areas agricultural wholesalers will sell them in association with the Grameen network.
The company’s initial investment will be €200,000 ($271,000, £183,000). BASF will then contribute funds for a million sachets and 100,000 nets. Grameen’s contribution includes its knowledge of the market, the means of distribution, and networks in Bangladesh. Grameen Bank will provide microcredits for people who set up distribution outlets.
The aims of a business venture are to serve a social purpose, cover costs and recoup the initial investment. Additional profits are reinvested in the company.
Jurgen Hambrecht, BASF chairman, said: ‘The joint venture is intended to empower people to take part successfully in business life. The more people who do so, be they business partners, customers or employees, the better the economic and social development of a country and its population. Investing in people’s entrepreneurial skills is therefore part of corporate responsibility.’
Bangladesh is estimated to have had three million malaria cases in 2006, and 72 per cent of the population is at risk. About eight million Bangladeshi children under the age of five are malnourished.
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