The experience is nearly over.  Here's Liam's latest post from Bangladesh.

Back in the bus. Big crash had blocked main road to Dhaka so we take side road. Mistake. We get stuck in the middle of a gridlocked village surrounded by people. Sham – our Grameen guide – jumps out and disappears into the melee. Feels like our dad has gone. Half an hour passes. Nothing. And then trucks start reversing, cars are pulling off the road. And there’s our Sham directing the traffic, shouting at the crowds to stay back! He gets back in the bus to huge applause, whistles and cheering. He asks if we want to stop at the Grameen branch up the road for tea and a toilet break (in this country not an offer to be sniffed at!). Suddenly we are moving and soon we are back on the main road happy to be taking our chances again in the murderously reckless traffic thundering towards the capital.

Sham tells me later that when he was a boy scout he did a module on unblocking traffic jams. All I did as a scout was smoke Rothmans and try and get off with the guides. 

So, only a few hours to go and people will start dispersing. We had another jaw droppingly inspirational day in and around Bogra yesterday hosted by Isabelle and her team from Danone Communities. This social  business partnership with Grameen manufactures and distributes a high nutrition yoghurt (called Shokti Doi) to poor kids. We saw the factory, met the ladies who sell door to door, sat in on a village education session to about 200 hundred villagers gaping and laughing at the man dressed as the Shokti Doi lion. Genius. At the end of the day we had three hours with the Grameen Danone team during which the group all gave them one piece of advice, support, insight about how they could make the business better.

The business is not perfect, it is not in profit yet and they are still too reliant on the brains and resources of Paris. But what is so impressive about Danone is that they learn by doing. They haven’t waited for the perfect business plan. They know social business innovation is messy and not linear. They know the outcome they want but are happy to travel with an incomplete map. And talk about generosity of spirit and transparency. Marie used a great phrase last night when Miriam from Unilever remarked how open and honest they were being. “ We want to be known, understood and copied”, she said. They also have a line in their budget called Shit Happens – making provision for the inevitable wrong turns, unexpected bumps in the road and cock ups.

Went to bed with my head buzzing.

This morning we had a quick trip to the Grameen Eye Hospital. Built two years ago this two floor highly professional facility has treated 82,000 people and has a success rate about what the World Health Organisation average. It uses a cross subsidy model – those who can pay are charged a bit more to enable the poor access. Seeing an elderly village lady being led tenderly into the operating theatre to get her cataracts removed was very moving for us all.

And again the unbelievable go-the-extra-mile hospitality and openness. Returning to the f-you culture of London will be a stretch.

I’m weary, sleep deprived and so wishing this bus trip was over. But I am also full of admiration for this bloody amazing Grameen organism. Paul of IDEO said they’re not a business they are a dignity engine. It ain't perfect. It feels a bit rickety in places as well as state of the art in others. It is over reliant on the founder Yunus. It won’t solve poverty in Bangladesh. BUT its network of various businesses are living symbols of what it looks like to put the poor first and not last. To not just talk about practical solutions but to make them and keep making them.