Since starting a bank for the poor, the Grameen Group led by Muhammad Yunus formed agreements with multiple companies to help those at the base of the pyramid. Grameen Danone Foods formed with Groupe Danone tackles malnutrition, and Grameen Veolia Water formed with Veolia Water distributes drinking water. Now, new partnerships are formed with Japanese firms Watami and Uniqlo.
Late last year, the Yunus Centre and Watami Group, Japan’s leading food and beverage brand, signed a joint venture agreement to establish a social business in the restaurant sector in Bangladesh. The social business will create jobs, provide healthy food, promote local cuisine, and train young people to become professional chefs.
The company will be providing training and management skills to produce affordable, quality dishes and has hopes to set up the first restaurant in Bangladesh by 2014. The goal is to spread business in rural parts of Bangladesh. As a social business, neither party will receive profit from operations.
Japan’s leading clothing retail chain Uniqlo has entered in agreement with the Grameen Healthcare Trust to form Grameen Uniqlo in 2010 and produce affordable, quality clothing for the poor in Bangladesh. The plan is to operate locally with profits reinvested back into the business. A network of Grameen Ladies who are working their way toward financial independence through loans from the Grameen Bank handle the sales.
In addition to clothing, Grameen Uniqlo has created inexpensive and reusable sanitary napkins for women in villages. They also plan to make affordable clothing for children that will feature animals, flowers, and alphabet designs as educational tools.
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