Reducing Inequality in Rural Areas

SQUARE Pharmaceuticals Limited & SQUARE Toiletries Limited

SQUARE, the leading Pharmaceutical Company of Bangladesh, has entered into the sector of herbal medicine with its future expansion plan, which is mostly dependent on the availability of quality local raw herbs. Landless farmer, jobless young people and women can contribute their family by producing medicinal plant and ensuring green environment as well.

Our aim is to target and work with the nature to make economically self sufficient impacts in environment and increasing social values and integrity through plantation of medicinal herbs in cooperation of landless farmer, jobless young people and women – the key players that can provide additional financial support to their family.

Bangladesh possesses a rich flora of medicinal plants but those are not traceable. It has been estimated about 5000 species of different plants are growing in this country, among them more than 550 are regarded having medicinal properties. Use of these plants for therapeutic purposes has been in practice in this country since time immemorial. Even at this age of highly advanced allopathic medicine, a large majority (75-80%) of the population of this country still prefer using traditional medicine in the treatment of most of their diseases for not having any side effects.

So, SQUARE Herbal & Nutraceuticals Ltd (SHNL) a sister concern of SQUARE Pharmaceuticals Ltd works in collaboration with “Helvetas” Swiss Interco operation at northern district of Bangladesh to encourage marginal farmers about the cultivation of medicinal plants to get quality raw material for our herbal medicines. SQUARE created market first, identified sustainable market and focused the market to the grower and trained the grower, developed skill and developed community based organization to enhance capacity building through learning process.

Initially 45 Villagers trained to initiate cultivation and sell directly to SQUARE’s Depot. To encourage growers, SQAURE purchased Bashak plant by taka 25/Kg where the market price was taka 12/Kg. They received training on plantation and caring of herbs. Unused land can be utilized with the help of local people specially women and unemployed citizen to grow and care the herbs. SQUARE provided packing bags at free of cost to pack, store and smooth delivery to collection point. Gradually more intensive training provided, more people got involved and created Local Service Provider (LSP) to train, to collect and to smoothen up delivery process. SQUARE also arranged experience sharing workshop at union level for awareness raising at the producers.

To Create Shared Value SQUARE has chosen the poor marginal farmers at the northern part of the country as cultivator and direct seller of their caring plants. To initiate and to monitor whole process SQUARE collaborated with HELVITAS to make the project into realization. The project of Medicinal plant cultivation impacted socially, economically and environmentally. Some impacts are mentioned below:

Current access to economy by Marginal people

Producers: Approximately 60,000 (Female: 48,000 & Male: 12,000)
Extremely poor & poor: 45600 (76 %)
Public land /khasland (mainly roadside): 450 km
Homestead & other fellow land: 150 Acres
Local service provider (LSP): 320
Collectors: 39

Economical Impact: About 60,000 marginal farmers are earning through Medicinal plant cultivation in the Northern part of Bangladesh. Poverty has been alleviated as they are earning from tk. 5000 to 25000/month. Women participation in earning process is maximum, so they are also contributing to the economy.

Social Impact: The medicinal plant cultivation and marketing model enhances social integrity through arranging interaction among the farmers. The education provided by LSP and the collection centre based social contacts enhances social value.

Environmental Impact: Huge cultivation of medicinal plant in the abundant land has enhanced forest development (450 KM road side). Use of natural pesticides and organic fertilizer enhance
the caring for environment. Also Roadside basak cultivation decreased the soil erosion. In 2005, we had only 3 products but presently we have 30 products. Among these products we export Adhovas- the medicine produced from Basak cultivation.

In 2005 our sale value was only 1 cr taka where presently our sale value is 45 crore taka. PKSF under Finance Ministry has recognized our project and adopted as one of the project of PKSF for Poverty alleviation apart from their core micro credit project. Also government is helping the poor grower by small scale funding to promote the herb cultivation.

At Square Toiletries Limited, we believe CSR is not a particular agenda. It is what we do every day. It is sustainable, result-oriented, brand-connected initiatives to help people live a little better life. Accessibility & dissemination of important information towards better health practice, especially in rural are always our key focus area for better business sustainability Square Toiletries Ltd. (STL) is one of the shining stars of Square Group – the most trusted and respected conglomerate of Bangladesh. Being a trustworthy Bangladeshi company, STL always cares for people. The philosophy is “if we take care of people, they will take care of our business”. STL has couple of leading brands in different categories beating competitors. The reason behind this success is, STL always explores doing something that enhances customer’s lives. We call it ‘Care Based Marketing Approach. At STL we do not call it CSR rather it’s what we do every day.

STL operates a 24/7 toll free number (08000888000) for people who don’t have access to health center in rural areas. Everyday more than thousand callers are getting free service from Doctors and Psychologists regarding physical or mental health related problems e.g. pregnancy problem, children’s healthcare, general health problem, depression, adolescent health, nearby health care center location or an ambulance contact. With the highest ever mobile phone penetration in Bangladesh, this service is helping people from the deepest rural area. STL also launched the first interactive Bangla website where people can interact with medical / psychological professionals, can read articles.

To improve the lives of babies, STL focused on raising awareness on the importance of breast feeding and vaccination. STL is a proud contributor in the initiative of Polio elimination from Bangladesh. In Bangladesh it is extremely difficult for mothers to breast-feed at public places. STL arranges Breast Feeding Center and Diaper Changing Room in public places like trade fair, train/ bus stations through which mass people travels.

“Senora” being the 75% leader in sanitary napkin industry, understands the severity of menstrual health. Accompanied by a gynecologist, an expert team is moving from one rural school to another with the intention of reducing cervical infection, school absenteeism and early marriage, by educating girls about better menstrual health management. STL has educated 3.5 million girls to make their life better.

In association with Kingdom of Netherlands, STL ran a project ‘Go Bangladesh’ for RMG workers on Sexual & Reproductive Health & Right (SRHR). This is an attempt to ensure an improved life of a worker while increasing factories’ productivity. STL also made a film which is widely shown to generate rural awareness.

Senora is proud to be a part of Post Partum Hemorrhage Reduction intervention of ICDDRB. One of the major reasons behind this high PPH caused maternal mortality rate was “inability to measure post-partum blood loss” as more than 70% of births takes place at rural home. Now the delivery kit contains measuring pad (each pad can absorb certain ml blood and can indicate risk of hemorrhage, in case of excessive bleeding). 40% decline over the past 9 years, the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) in Bangladesh is now 194 per 100,000.

Square Toiletries Ltd. is aiming to touch 160 million lives to make them ‘Happy’ by ensuring quality and delivering sense of care through its products and efforts. That is how we aim to grow in business.