Promoting innovations to transform the lives of women in RMG industry
BRAC, H&M Foundation, and The Asia Foundation have announced the six winners of the international competition titled “STITCH for RMG: Global Innovation Challenge”. The announcement was made last evening (Tuesday, 7 February 2022) at a virtual event organised by BRAC Social Innovation Lab, H&M Foundation, and The Asia Foundation.
The global competition was launched October last year (2021) to promote improved livelihood opportunities for the women working at the export-oriented readymade garment factories in Bangladesh, promote gender equality at the factory floors and increase factory performance.
The six winning teams of the competition are: Agroshift, iSmart, Jyoti, Quizrr, Sustify and ToguMogu. Faruque Hassan, president, BGMEA, Asif Saleh, executive director, BRAC, and Diana Amini, global manager, H&M Foundation, and Kazi Faisal Bin Seraj, country representative, The Asia Foundation, congratulated the winners.
Diana Amini, GM, H&M Foundation, said, ”I think we all have different roles to play, and for us, representing the philanthropic sector, our role is to be able to support early-stage ideas, methods, innovations, and also to be able to take risks that other actors cannot. And together with our partners, we can also co-create and validate solutions and invite others to play a part in helping us scale them.”
Asif Saleh, ED, BRAC, said, “Unlike how it is perceived elsewhere, we looked at innovation that is not necessarily driven by products, it can be about processes, it can be about simple solutions, and particularly, simplicity is the key toward scaling.”
Kazi Faisal Bin Seraj, CR, The Asia Foundation, said, “The thing that stood out for me in the pitches is that all the applicants used empathy to create their solution, that it is not just technology, rather how it is more appropriate in a context, in a gender sensitive manner. I think that empathy can be seen in all the programmes, in the global nature of it and the innovative nature of it”
Faruque Hassan, president, BGMEA, said, “We need more attention and investment in innovation, from businesses and state level, to upscale our capability and adaption. Global buyers are looking for sustainable manufacturing sources which resource efficient, without technology, optimum use of water, energy, and other resources cannot be ensured. So, we need to ensure 4th generation of technology in our supply chain.”
A member of team Quizrr said on behalf of the winners, “We look forward to new collaborations through this network. We want to learn from each other, so we can further accelerate our solutions and provide better innovations to this industry and its workforce.”
The awards for the winning teams come with grants up to USD 30,000 to pilot the solutions. The winners also will have opportunities for bootcamp training with mentors, incubators, and accelerators.
The solution focus of the winning teams are as follows.
- Agroshift is creating demand driven digital grocery platform for RMG workers;
- i-SMART is developing a standardized skill matrix for women sewing workers;
- Jyoti is removing the barriers of access to sanitary pads for RMG factory workers improving menstrual hygiene;
- Quizrr is building female RMG role models through skill and leadership development training;
- Sustify is building capacity through gamified microlearning for female factory workers in Bangladesh; and
- ToguMogu is supporting female RMG workers through a health and wellbeing platform making their parenthood stress-free.
The competition started with a “concept round” in which 220 applications were received and 50 applications were shortlisted for video submissions in the “pitching round”. A total of 12 teams won to move to the final round that organised a virtual marketplace, offering opportunities to partner with RMG factories. Through a tough competition the winning teams secured opportunities to incubate their projects in these factories that had volunteered to provide time, space, and other resources for the purpose.
The Marketplace Round was a unique opportunity for the competitors both from Bangladesh and beyond to discuss their ideas with factory owners and representatives, through which they were able to understand the probable demand and feasibility of their solutions on the ground. It was a matchmaking process where the factory owners jointly showed interest in developing the business together with the team they got matched with.
The competing ideas and solutions covered a range of themes from health, to skill development, security, sustainability and others. In total nine teams moved forward with factories based on the overall practicality of their solution. Of them, six teams topped the competition.
The “STITCH for RMG: Global Innovation Challenge” is part of the STITCH for RMG pilot project undertaken by BRAC, H&M Foundation and The Asia Foundation. The goal of the project is to create an environment that advances welfare and livelihood of the women in ready-made garments sector of Bangladesh as well as boost Bangladesh’s performance in the RMG industry.