Destination Changemakers: a world tour of social business

Summary

Two French students travelled the world to learn more about social business and work with social entrepreneurs in the Philippines, India and Senegal. They are back now, bringing a number of ideas with them.

14Août.
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Jonas Guyot and Matthieu Dardaillon have just come back from a rather unusual trip, where for nine months, they travelled the globe, met social entrepreneurs and worked with them on their projects. The whole adventure, known as Destination Changemakers, had two aims:   to help these entrepreneurs in their business and communication, and discover new ways to innovate in the face of poverty, which could be replicated in France. Jonas and Matthieu say they are eager to

use the power of entrepreneurship to meet social and environmental challenges.

They did not leave unprepared: both took two years off their studies at a Parisian management school, and dedicated the first year to working with social businesses in Paris. (During that time, Matthieu was working at danone.communities, after being an intern at Danone in human resources.) They spent the second year travelling in Asia and Africa, working on three missions in the Philippines, India and Senegal. And, as part as these missions, they collaborated with two projects supported by the danone.communities fund: La Laiterie du Berger and Lemateki, both in Senegal.

 

The third mission, in Senegal (April-June 2013)

 

La Laiterie du Berger (LDB) was created in 2006 by Bagoré Bathily, a veterinarian, when he realised that 90% of the milk consumed in Senegal was imported in powder form… when 30% of the population makes a living with animal husbandry and could sell their milk. This led to the idea of La Laiterie du Berger, which then spawned the brand “Dolima”, buying the milk from Senegalese farmers and turning it into dairy products to sell to the population, thanks to a factory set up in the city of Richard Toll. Five years later, LDB buys milk from 800 Senegalese farmers and Dolima sells around 7 metric tons of products every day, in 8,000 points of sale. Destination Changemakers’ missions were to design LDB’s website, train the teams to use it, make a presentation video for the company and bring its Facebook page back to life.

The two friends also worked for Lemateki, a project launched by NGO Enda Graf Sahel in 2008, supported by danone.communities (Isabelle Sultan, the project manager, has been seconded from the fund), La Laiterie du Berger and the Ministry of Education. In a country where 20% of the population suffer from malnutrition, Lemateki (a contraction of “Eat”, “Grow” and “Succeed” in Wolof) produces “Dolima Doolé” through LDB:  a fortified product for schoolchildren who do not get to eat breakfast before they go to school. It also provides training courses on hygiene and nutrition for the local communities, where Jonas and Matthieu explain how “just” giving fortified products is not enough without a thorough understanding of what makes a healthy diet. For Lemateki, they worked on several missions: finding other financing sources – it is mainly supported by danone.communities –, designing its website and training the teams to use it, and making a presentation video.

The experience they brought back to France

 

Throughout their trip, Matthieu and Jonas described their experiences with Destination Changemaker through a series of articles that were published on the website of a French newspape, L’Express.fr (you can read the one about Lemateki here, and about La Laiterie du Berger here –both in French). In a piece that they wrote when they came back to Paris, they shared the lessons they have learned and, more importantly, how they will put them to good use. While they both have to finish their studies, they are now working on two social business projects in France. Jonas is setting up a solidarity on-the-go catering service inspired by what he saw in the streets of Manilla, Dakar and Jakarta. Matthieu was fired by their mission in India, and is developing a project around education to help talented young people become job givers rather than job seekers. This is called “reverse innovation”: imagination and entrepreneurship are needed at the far ends of the world – and in our everyday lives, too.

Photo © Destination Changemakers