Bangladesh apparel industry has undergone tremendous transformation in the last nine years. The safety transformation has been done through unprecedented collaboration of the global brands and retailers, manufacturers, government, ILO, development partners as well as local and global unions.
I will not argue that our apparel industry is now all clean and perfect. We must not be complacent as we believe there is always a scope for improvement. But it will not be an exaggeration to say that Bangladesh apparel industry is now one of the safest and most sustainable in the world.
Hong Kong-based supply chain compliance solutions provider, Qima, recently ranked Bangladesh's apparel industry the second in "Ethical Manufacturing" with a score of 7.7, only behind Taiwan. The ethical auditing report covered a wide range of compliance and ethical manufacturing issues, e.g., hygiene, health and safety, waste management, child and young labour, labour practices, including forced labour, worker representation, disciplinary practices and discrimination, working hours and wages etc.
The 'Made in Bangladesh Week' to be organised by BGMEA in partnership with Bangladesh Apparel Exchange (BAE) on 12-18 November 2022 is going to be one of the most sophisticated branding campaigns so far for Bangladesh apparel industry.
Bangladesh has by far the highest number of green garment factories in the world. US Green Building Council (USGBC) certified a total of 176 Bangladeshi garment factories as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), among them 57 are LEED platinum. Among the world's top 10 green factories, at least eight are located in Bangladesh.
But how much does the outside world hear of this positive story? The answer is not enough. Bangladesh apparel industry needs better branding. As an industry, we should be shouting from the rooftops about our achievements, and presenting them in a palatable, interesting way to global audience.
The 'Made in Bangladesh Week' to be organised by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) in partnership with Bangladesh Apparel Exchange (BAE) on 12-18 November 2022 is going to be one of the most sophisticated branding campaigns so far for Bangladesh apparel industry.
The week will have 17 physical events including summits, exhibitions, awards, factory tours, fashion runway show, cultural show and networking opportunities aimed at highlighting the strengths and capabilities of Bangladesh apparel industry to position it as a preferred apparel sourcing destination globally.
The Week will be inaugurated by our honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina; and buyers, policy makers from home and abroad, international journalists, academics and trade bodies from across the world are going to participate in the Made in Bangladesh Week. It's expected to be the biggest gathering of the stakeholders in the history of Bangladesh apparel industry.
The question is whether a branding event like the Made in Bangladesh Week can help GDP growth, take value creation in production in Bangladesh to the next level, and thereby attract investment and help the country's economy grow faster. Yes, this will indeed benefit the GDP, upgrade living conditions, help build relationships and ultimately create growth for entrepreneurial business that will take Bangladesh to the next growth curve.
Many countries uplifted their global positions through branding and image building of their nations that dramatically fueled their economic growth. Storytelling and branding around emotions deliver faster ROI than a cheap product can.
The branding of Bangladesh leaves a lot to be desired. We have done a lot of investments and improvements in factory safety and sustainability that owe to be rewarded by the global buyers with commitments of orders and better prices. Therefore, such an aggressive branding of 'Made in Bangladesh' is all the more important now when we are suffering from scarcity of orders.
Abdullah Hil Rakib is the Managing Director of Team Group. He is also a Director of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.