BRAC University’s Centre for Entrepreneurship Development, based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to implement Digital RMG Factory Mapping (DRFM-B) initiative in Bangladesh. The new initiative launched aims to digitally map all apparel factories in Bangladesh signally a shift towards greater transparency in the Bangladesh RMG sector.

They will collect factory data and disclose it on a publicly available online map. The map will provide an industry-wide database of factories, including names, locations, numbers of workers, product type, export country, certifications, brand customers, etc. The team behind the project said that verification will be crowd sourced from the public to ensure information remains up-to-date and accurate. The digital mapping project will be coordinated by BRAC USA, with Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) as strategic partner, along with lead funding from C&A Foundation, and will be guided by a multi-stakeholder Project Advisory Committee, including representation from workers, NGOs, employers and industry associations.

Parveen S Huda, Project Manager, DRFM-B said that this project will send a strong signal to all stakeholders that transformative change is happening within the ready-made garment sector. Through its mapping and relationship building, DRFM-B will fuel Bangladesh’s garment industry advancements, inspire shared responsibility, responsible sourcing, collective action, and builds upon pre-existing improvement efforts through informed decision-making.

Speaking at the launch, honourable Minister Md. Tofail Ahmed MP said that the map will especially benefit brands and buyers who can directly get updated factory information from the map, increasing supply chain transparency. The public map will go live in mid-2018 with the Dhaka cluster. The final version, showcasing all 20 Bangladeshi garment-producing districts, is expected to be completed by mid-2021. Programme chair, Professor Dr. Rahim B. Talukdar, said that incidents such as the Rana Plaza complex collapse, which killed more than 1200 garment workers in Bangladesh in 2013, and the 2012 Tazreen Fashions factory fire, raised issues on transparency and accountability in the Bangladesh RMG industry.

DRFM-B is driven by the fundamental belief that transparency and traceability lead to long-term industry advancements and improved working conditions. By funding this project, we aim to increase industry accountability to transform fashion into a force for good, said Naureen Chowdhury, C&A Foundation Programme Manager, supply chain innovation and transformation. Their commitment to bring to the notice of the world outside that Bangladesh RMG sector is aspiring to be ever transparent and accountable in terms of meeting the global standards. The crowd sourcing technique build into the map will enable different stakeholders to point out any deviations they observe.