The data of all factories in Bangladesh are being collected in a publicly accessible database. For the first time the textile industry itself took the initiative. An important role is being played by BRAC. This largest NGO in the world is praised for its innovation and efficiency. Founder Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, decades ago, stood at the base of the textile industry in his country. His Brac University is currently designing (working) on this transparency project.
The first version of the map will be online in 2018 and includes the capital Dhaka. By 2021 the database will have to be completed. The budget amounts to 2.4 million euros for four years. The C & A Foundation pays a large part of it. The Bengali textile industry organization BGMEA is also involved. There are currently discussions with technological partners.
Brac as development organization is specializing in data collection. Over the next thirty months, they will send 36 researchers along each Bangladesh factory for data collection on the number of employees, type of product, export destination, certification, and delivered clothing brands. The Brac map shows which company is producing where, even if this involves business-sensitive information. Openness is the inevitable trend, according to C & A Foundation.
Reliable information about the number of Bangladesh textile factories is not available. Estimates range from 4000 to 8000. This project is just a response to the lack of information, as stated by the initiators. Trade unions, companies and civil society organizations responded positively to a pilot project, according to C & A Foundation. In 2013, textile factory Rana Plaza collapsed, resulting in 1,100 deaths. A database would have made it possible to retrieve how many people were working there and for which brands. Companies will be able to learn which illegal subcontractors are making their garments.
An additional advantage, according to BGMEA chairman Siddiqur Rahman, is that transparency ‘is a strong marketing instrument’. It improves the reputation of the Bengal industry, which deals with $ 28 billion annually and employs 4 million people. Bad working conditions remain a problem. Last month, 13 people died when a boiler exploded in a textile factory in Dhaka.