“We should empower the community and its members to build a sustainable society.” – Peter Hallberge, Managing Director, Arla Foods.
How does Arla view CSR?
At Arla Foods, CSR is embedded in our core operation. We believe in sustainable business practices. We also consider it our responsibility to work for the development of the community proactively.
What motivates you to work with women in the Pushti Ambassador Project, and how are you planning to take this program forward?
Pushti Ambassador Project is a four-year initiative that began in 2019 to create jobs for female entrepreneurs, contribute to women’s economic empowerment, and improve nutrition in rural Bangladesh. So far, we have reached 27,165 people in remote villages with nutritional goods and information. The Pushti Ambassador program recruits and educates a team of female micro-entrepreneurs who serve as community nutrition experts and Dano agents, raising nutrition awareness while also earning money by selling Dano Daily Pushti in their communities. Arla recruited ambassadors in collaboration with the Dutch NGO BoP Innovation Centre and the iSocial in Bangladesh. Our target is to reach 1.25 million people by 2023, and in this process, we will involve 5,000 microentrepreneurs as ambassadors and each of them will earn 5,300BDT per month. After achieving this target, we have a plan to extend the project under which we will try to reach 1.25 million rural consumers by 2030 involving around 22,000 women.
What other milestone CSR activities are being taken by Arla?
As a responsible global dairy operator, we have the ambition to adopt circular packaging fully by 2030. It will have a positive impact on the environment. In addition, we are working towards ensuring a 30% reduction in CO2 by 2030 and achieving carbon net-zero by 2050. Our new sustainability plan, which was released in 2019, focuses on enhancing the environment for future generations as well as increasing access to nutritious dairy products and encouraging healthy eating habits. Our dedication to upholding human rights and establishing ethical business practices across our markets are at the heart of the plan.
What challenges do you face while working in CSR and communities in Bangladesh?
Bangladesh is a country full of potential and there are several opportunities to work on. One challenge we faced was the low retention rates of female microentrepreneurs. The existing social stigmas discourage rural women from working outside and going door to door for their work. However, we, now, know the source of the challenge, and therefore we have aligned our strategies to address it.
What are your thoughts about the future of CSR in Bangladesh?
We shouldn’t limit ourselves to charitable deeds only. Rather, we should empower the community and its members to build a sustainable society. We all should join hands to eliminate hunger and poverty, achieve sustainability and ensure that we leave a better world for our future generations.