Social Entrepreneur Weaves Together Benefits for Bangladesh Garment Workers
Saif Rashid believes that, given the right market opportunities, millions of Bangladeshis can lift themselves up financially. With an innovative new model called APON, he is empowering the workers of Bangladesh’s ready-made garment manufacturing industry to increase their disposable income and build better, healthier lives.
According to Clean Clothes Campaign, only China is ahead of Bangladesh in supplying garments to the world market; Bangladesh exported about $20 billion worth of garments in 2013, representing 80% of its exports. As industry observers have pointed out, the country’s economy has come to rely on exporting low-price apparel to a world full of consumers hooked on “fast fashion.”
Eighty percent of the country’s 4.2 million ready-made garment (RMG) sector workers are women, and many struggle to support their families even with full-time work, due to chronically low factory wages.
With APON, Saif offers these workers a way to both grow their disposable income and receive subsidized health care for their families, without forcing factory owners to increase worker pay. He does this by selling them discounted consumer staples at a workers-only shop, where their purchases earn them points toward a workplace benefits scheme.
- Health Care