If you are a regular reader of « Down to Earth », you already know a bit about the aims and challenges of the Danone Ecosystem Fund, created in 2009 by Danone to
help strengthen and develop the businesses of the stakeholders working with Danone all along its value chain.
But as the Fund has just released a short animated film to explain, in a few minutes and a few images, exactly how Ecosystem strives to expand Danone’s dual economic and social project, we thought it could not hurt to show it to you, and thus put it into a bit of perspective.
Co-creation and shared value: the two pillars of sustainability
With 43 projects in around 20 countries all over the world, Ecosystem supports an ever growing number of stakeholders that work with the group, including small agricultural producers, small suppliers and subcontractors, transport and logistics operators, distributors, experts and professionals. This variety is at the heart of the Ecosystem approach: joint efforts all along the value chain, and more precisely within five particular clusters of activity – which all involve different representatives. First, there is sourcing, which means interactions with the producers that provide milk, fruit, water, etc. to ensure better-quality production and better protection for the producers. Secondly, there is the territory: to foster local development around its factories, Danone works with local communities to protect resources and create economic value that benefits all players in the area. Thirdly, micro-distribution, whereby the Fund empowers local salespersons, and in particular women, to create new ways to distribute the company’s products. Then come the care services: since Danone is also very present in the field of medical nutrition, the Fund develops programmes with healthcare professionals to address both « well-ageing » (with elderly people) and « well-growing » (with babies and children).Finally, recycling, the last step of the chain, and one crucial for sustainability, is fostered notably in developing countries with support for local waste sorters.
Within all five clusters of activity, the Danone Ecosystem Fund has a co-creation approach: for each and every project, the meeting between a Danone subsidiary and a local non-profit organisation is what enables it to come to life or develop. With this systematic way of doing things,
the Fund ensures that all projects truly respond to local needs and issues, and, as a consequence, durably reinforce the company’s ecosystem.
For that matter, working hand in hand with local stakeholders is every bit as important as addressing every single step of the value chain. When added value is created at each step of the way and there is dialogue with all the stakeholders, everybody gets something out of it. That’s when the social part and the business part come together. That’s when long-lasting sustainability is truly ensured.