World famous soccer star Zinedine Zidane of France flew into Bangladesh on a two day visit to inaugurate the launching of Grameen Danone Foods Ltd. on November 8, 2006. Grameen Danone Foods Ltd. is a social business enterprise undertaken by four Grameen companies (Grameen Byabosha Bikash, Grameen Kalyan, Grameen Shakti and Grameen Telecom) and Groupe Danone of France whose objective is to help eradicate poverty by providing nutritious dairy food for children in the rural areas.
Grameen Danone Foods Ltd. will produce a special yogurt from pure full cream milk which contains protein, vitamins, iron, calcium, zinc and other micronutrients to fulfill the nutritional requirements of children, and improve their health. While Shakti Doi (which means ‘power yogurt’) is primarily for children, it is also appropriate for adults.
The price of each 80 gram cup of yogurt will be Taka 5, making it cheaper than other available yoghurts in the market and in line with what low income people can afford. Grameen Danone Foods will reduce poverty by creating business and employment opportunities for local people since raw materials including milk needed for production , will be sourced locally. The companies that make up Grameen Danone Foods Ltd. have agreed not to take out any of the profits of the company ; instead they will invest these for creation of new opportunities for the welfare and development of people.
On the first day of his whirlwind trip, Zidane, who is a brand ambassador forDanone Foods, visited Grameen Bank Bashan Gazipur branch to learn more about Grameen and microcredit. He was accompanied by Chairman of Danone, Franck Riboud, Professor Muhammad Yunus and French journalists.
The footballer, affectionately known as Zizou, thrilled Grameen Bank staff and villagers by playing football with local school children in the village. On the same day, he played with two under 16 boys’ sides at a packed stadium in Dhaka, where delighted spectators cheered and chanted his name. Zidane and the Danone team also visited the headquarters of Grameen Bank where scores of children of Grameen staff received the group.
At the inauguration ceremony of Grameen Danone Foods, Zidane signed the foundation stone of the first dairy plant which has been established close to Bogra town, north of Dhaka.
The inauguration of Grameen Danone Foods Ltd. takes place less than 8 months after the signing of the MOU between Grameen and Danone, and marks the start of production at the first plant. The 7,000 sq ft factory will daily produce 3,000 kg of yogurt in the first year, increasing to 10,000 kg in the third year and beyond. It is planned that 50 additional dairy plants could be set up in the next 10 years in rural areas of Bangladesh.