Empowering Bangladeshi women to bike nutrition to their nation
Image: GMB Akash/Dnet
Arla Foods is celebrating its group of female micro-entrepreneurs in Bangladesh, who are supplying a much needed nutritional and affordable dairy product to rural areas.
In a country where 56% of children are underweight and malnutrition is prevalent, Arla is determined to give everyone access to affordable, nutritious dairy products. Dano Daily Pushti is a fortified filled milk powder, available in 20g sachets at an affordable price.
However with 70% of the population living in rural areas, an innovative, alternative sales model was called for. Equipped with a bicycle and with a tablet and the sachets in their backpacks, a group of women are able to reach people in rural parts of the country, cycling from village to village.
These women are not only gaining knowledge and an accreditation through training, they are securing a reliable income, helping to lift them out of poverty.
They are known as Arla’s Pushti ambassadors and, as well as selling products, the women conduct courtyard sessions to educate people about health and milk nutrition generally.
Of her experience of being a Pushti ambassador, Rebaka Khatun said: “It gives me immense pleasure and great fulfilment that I’m giving back to society and helping my own community. It gives me great pride that I am well respected both in my family and my community.”
Baby Bagum, also a Pushti ambassador said: “For Bangladesh to progress, women have to step out of the house. A women’s job is not only to cook. For Bangladesh to prosper we have to get out in the field.”
Rebaka agreed, adding: “I’m a big believer that if a man can do it, why not me? I want to show to everyone that we are equal.”
Arla’s Dano Daily Pushti sales force is currently 200-strong. By 2022, the company, together with partners, aims to have 5,000 female microentrepreneurs to generate their own income and reach nearly two million new rural Bangladeshi consumers.
Tim Ørting Jørgensen, executive vice president and head of Arla’s International Zone, said that the motivation for the company to be involved lies at the heart of its vision and strategy.
“We are committed to contributing positively to the societies in which we operate, behaving responsibly is an inherent part of Arla’s culture. We recognise the opportunity we have to help address Bangladesh’s high rates of malnutrition and to do so in a sustainable way, whilst having the additional benefit of creating employment opportunities for 5,000 female micro-entrepreneurs over the next four years.
“The Pushti Ambassador Partnership is also directly aligned to several of the UN’s sustainable development goals, which form the framework for our sustainability work. For example, it gives the women new skills, training and a sustainable source of income.
“Today, Bangladeshi families who previously couldn’t afford to consume milk, are now able to drink it on a regular basis. We are delighted to be playing a key role and the success of Dano Daily Pushti is inspiring us to develop new, nutritious products for low income consumers to add to the baskets of our ambassadors.”