Bangladesh is home both to a growing tech hub and the world’s second largest garment producer. The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association is launching the first initiative of its kind in an effort to prevent abuses and make the supply chain more transparent. A pilot of the program is expected by the 2018, and Bangladesh expects to expand the initiative nationwide by 2021.
The garment industry is worth approximately USD 28 billion and employs over 4 million people, but has faced increased scrutiny over corruption and worker’s safety. The 2013 collapse of an eight-storey factory complex killed 1,100 workers and prompted global calls for improving safety for factory workers. Five years on, many factories remain unsafe and deadly accidents are not unusual. 100,000 fire, electrical and structural safety hazards were found in the 1,800 factories inspected, only 65 of which have fully improved.
Supply chain maps are an important step in ensuring ethical supply chains. Most brands possess supply chain information, but it is still very unusual for that information to be publicly accessible. Nike and Patagonia are two of those exceptions. In Bangladesh, locating sub-contracting suppliers has proved particularly difficult as many large manufacturers are not transparent about the lower ends of the supply chain. The map will provide a detailed database of factories, including data on names, locations, employee numbers, products, export countries, etc. In addition to being available to the public, the information will be verified by information through crowdsourcing so that it remains accurate.
If the pilot initiative is successful, it will help save lives and set a global example of the power of transparent supply chain data.
Contributed by Hannah Juge.