This is the story of when Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, met Danone, the global French food company. Working together in 2005 they set up Grameen Danone Foods, a company based on the social enterprise model. The joint venture took off very quickly in Bangladesh, a poor country where every other child suffers from malnutrition. Their mission was to improve health and reduce poverty. How? With Shokti Doi, a low-cost yoghurt fortified with micronutrients. The yoghurts are made by locals in the small Bogra factory using milk from local farms. When ready, rickshaws distribute them to retail outlets and “Grameen Ladies”, Bangladeshi women who deliver to the door. It’s a way to promote local business and create jobs, whilst improving public health. Well played!
Once upon a time, there were some “Eye Mitra”, or “friends of the eyes” in Hindi. These Indian opticians had the task of providing eye tests, making corrective lenses and selling glasses. Behind their ultrafast but effective training lies Essilor, a major player in visual health. This is a way to create jobs in a country where young people are often underqualified and there is high unemployment. What’s in it for the global opthalmology leader? They want to become an ethical leader. Because where vision is concerned there is a real public health issue. In India, there are 500 million people with sight problems. Since the launch of the Eye Mitra programme, and thanks to teams operating in 11 other countries, more than 24 million people have had access to their first pair of glasses for less than 4 dollars. One thing’s for sure, the brand lives up to its slogan “See the World Better”.
This success story was born 20 years ago. When the French company came to the Middle Kingdom, the conservative Chinese mindset gave way to a new and more assertive generation. Today, China is the group’s second largest market, proving that it has fallen very much under the French spell. To keep its customers’ loyal, L’Oréal is continually reinventing itself through e-commerce, artificial intelligence and other new technologies. One example is YouCamMakeup, an augmented reality app that lets customers try out makeup, which has proven a big hit. Another charm offensive is “Sharing beauty with all”, a sustainable development project to become a carbon-balanced company by 2020. By listening to their needs and making good use of East Asian innovation, the company continues to keep its Chinese customers under its spell.
Today, more than a billion people, or 1 in 5 globally, have no access to modern energy. Enter the French group Schneider Electric, global specialists in energy management. Their mission: to provide these populations with clean, reliable and efficient electricity. They’re meeting this major challenge with their BipBop programme, which supports the innovative projects of their overseas employees. Thus empowered, Abhimanyu Shu has devised the In-Diya programme in India, giving many rural people in Bangalore access to low-cost rechargeable LED lamps. A new way to develop inclusive business models whilst guaranteeing a goodly dose of socially aware energy!
NB: This article on large companies and their international development was produced by Groupe Renault.