A four-year project to create a publicly available, online map providing a detailed industry-wise database of all apparel factories in Bangladesh was launched by Brac University's Centre for Entrepreneurship Development yesterday.
“Digital RMG Factory Mapping in Bangladesh” (DRFM-B) will collect credible, comprehensive and accurate data on factories across Bangladesh and disclose factory names, locations, number of workers, product type, export country, certifications and brand customers.
Verification will be crowdsourced from the public to ensure that the information remains up-to-date and accurate.
The map will go live in mid-2018 focusing on Dhaka. The final version showcasing all 20 Bangladeshi garment-producing districts is expected to be completed by mid-2021.
The key target is to build up a public disclosure and transparency mechanism, providing an opportunity to understand the network of garment supplier factories, both listed and unlisted.
The project will be coordinated by Brac USA with Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) as a strategic partner along with lead funding from C&A Foundation.
Addressing the launching as chief guest at the BGMEA Complex in the capital, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed criticised plans for extending the duration of Accord and Alliance.
He said propaganda was being spread to capture Bangladesh's position as the second largest garment producer.
The Accord and Alliance are legally binding agreements signed by a total of 228 foreign retailers in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013 to fix the electrical, fire and structural faults in the garment factories from which they source.
The tenures of Accord, a platform of 200 Europe-based retailers, and Alliance, another platform of 28 North American retailers, will come to an end in June 2018.
Addressing as a special guest, Brac University Vice-Chancellor Prof Syed Saad Andaleeb said it was time to proactively adapt to change and focus on research, especially through academic-industry partnerships, to shift to intellect-based activities rather than being solely reliant on labour.
He said there were forecasts that 70-80 percent of jobs would disappear and already 47 percent of graduates have no employment while $5 million was going away annually for foreign employment.
Centre for Entrepreneurship Development Adviser Rahim B Talukdar gave the opening remarks and the project manager, Parveen S Huda, an overview of the activities.
C&A Sourcing Bangladesh's Unit Leader Shantanu Singh and BGMEA President Siddiqur Rahman also spoke as special guests.