Social entrepreneurship is essentially a for-profit business solution where the primary profit is linked towards eliminating social problems. The economic aspect however is equally important to sustain the higher goal of solving the problem at hand. In developing economies where poverty is inseparable from epidemic, malnutrition and civil wars, entrepreneurship that empowers the population in terms of jobs as well as nutrition looks as a viable option.
This article attempts to look at few social enterprises that chose to work with dairy milk and the impact they continue to make.Verghese Kurien directed Operation Flood, the largest dairy development programme in the world (in around 1990s) then to transform India from a milk production deficient nation to overtaking USA in terms of production. It created a national milk grid linking milk producers throughout India with consumers, slashing seasonal and regional price variations while ensuring that the producer gets the real benefit after eliminating middlemen.It is interesting to point out that Mr Kurien had gone to the Michigan State University to study Mechanical Engineering with Dairy technology as a minor subject. When he returned he was posted at Anand as per the bond with the Govt. that had provided his scholarship funds in 1949. He emphasized on technology and empowered the women as micro-entrepreneurs to create the brand that is AMUL as a co-operative.
Photo 1: AMUL women at work (courtesy: flickr.com)
Several Governments around the world had tried to replicate the successful model. The scope for innovation however is unlimited with dairy products.
Promethean Power Systems is an MIT spin-off that is using cutting-edge thermo-electronic technology. It is building a solar-powered refrigerator with no moving parts. In India one of their first products was a milk chilling machine that increased the shelf life of milk in off the grid villages.
Photo 2: Sorin Grama, Promethian Power Systems
“Our innovative milk chilling system, which reduces milk spoilage in rural India, would not have been possible without the Planet NI program. Through the program, NI saw the opportunity to help with a project which has significant social and environmental impact and they worked with us to make their products accessible.” said Sorin Grama, founder of Promethian Power Systems. Each day dairy processors face the task of collecting and bringing milk from distant villages to central processing units in the cities. The thermal battery powered cooling systems cuts the chilling cost.
In 2009, Doodh Bhandar, a plan focused on revolutionizing milk production in rural India, reached the finals of the Harvard Business School Business Plan contest in the Social Enterprise track. Their focus was on cattle which are one of the most important assets for rural families in India. Their plan was to bring about an improvement in their productivity which in turn would have a positive socio-economic impact. Their plan was to increase milk production by about 6 times through five services:”breed, feed, heed (veterinary services), lead (access to markets), and seed (access to finance)”. Their idea will not only generate $2-300/year more for rural families, but also help counter malnutrition. One key scaling idea was to build scalable micro-enterprises managed by local youth and women who serve as role models and resources for others in their community to replicate market based solutions to poverty.
Another story is of Lokesh Kumar Singh, CEO of Samridhi Agri Products who has created rural dairy jobs in the poverty stricken northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. With hands on experience in microfinance, he knew that every poor person would be a natural entrepreneur if given the money and more importantly the ecosystem to thrive in. He works in remote rural villages some of which do not have electricity or roads to reach them. Samridhi has provided jobs to over 100 women who were suffering from extreme poverty. They also aid in goat rearing for milk production. His philosophy is that Poverty can only be eliminated if the poor are made a part of the production cycle.
Meanwhile in Kenya, a microfinance group called Juhudi Kilimo is providing high breed cattle to rural farmers that can produce up to 4 times more than local breeds. It has increased the annual productivity to more than $400-$600 annually.
Photo 3: From Juhudi Kilimo Gallery on their website
In Andean Peru, Rotier Gómez Hinostroza had wanted to be a farmer. He is now marketing manager at the Peru Association of Ayacucho Dairy Producers (APROLAP), which he co-founded with other members of the community in Munaypata (district of Ayacucho in Peru).
By 8 a.m. and the cattle-ranchers get busy at work, taking milk to the refrigeration tank of APROLAP. Every morning, 45 families come to sell their milk, which provides supplies for a national programme to fight malnutrition among young Peruvians, or for converting to yoghurt.
Munaypata has more than 100 households. The regional government irrigation project enabled us to turn to raising cattle.” Previously, 80% of the population was engaged in agriculture. Now, cattle-ranching predominates. And poverty has nearly been kicked out of the area.
Positives are scalable and can be replicated in any variant setting. May the tribe of such entrepreneurs increase and may such social enterprises continue to thrive.
2.Social Entrepreneur Creates Dairy Jobs Where No One Else Dares to Go.
3.Doodh Bhandar – Finalist at Harvard Business Plan Contest.//social.yourstory.in/2009/04/doodh-bhandar-finalist-at-harvard-business-plan-contest
4.From mobile milkman to dairy-product entrepreneur, Belgian Development Agency http://www.btcctb.org/en/casestudy/mobile-milkman-dairy-product-entrepreneur