Category Archives: Case Company


Living Blue

There are several economic and geographical factors that persistently contribute to the poverty in Rangpur including but not limited to natural calamities, low levels of literacy and discrimination. The community-led approaches taken to address the chronic poverty in the region proved to be fruitful. The project focused on using indigenous skills to find simple solutions for everyday problems of the rural, marginalised society. Such initiatives heralded higher chances of sustainability. Furthermore, in order to tackle certain livelihood and social issues, CARE Bangladesh promoted ‘Nijeder Janya Nijera’ (We for Ourselves) Project. Based on the success of the community led approach of the project, Nijera was transformed into NCVI Ltd in 2008. Till date NCVI has hit several important milestones that include reintroduction of Indigo as a commercial product, hosting of workshops on natural dyes, artisans having received training from India, introduction of Shibori, participation in Dastkar Nature Bazaar, Delhi and ISEND of France and Indonesia, and having won several awards along the way.

After attending an informative seminar on the mission of Fashion Revolution, the fashion design students of BGMEA University of Fashion and Techonology divided into groups and were assigned case study companies to research.

The students read everything they could on the companies and compiled a questionnaire to gain firsthand insight into the company’s general policies as well as its sustainability initiatives and/or advanced labor practices.

Below are the questionnaires and responses from the case studies:

1. How do you treat the water that is being used?

Living Blue: water that comes out during indigo processing is channeled to the nearby farming fields. This indigo infused water works as fertilizer for the soil. Indigo plant is leguminous, meaning it is nitrogen fixer.

2. As most of the workers works at their own houses, how do you ensure it’s a proper working environment?

Living Blue: The whole idea of Living Blue being a community led, community owned social business is to provide maximum income opportunities to rural artisans and farmers. The textile items of Living Blue have been chosen keeping the reality of the context in place. The kind of materials they work with do not require use of machines or electronic tools. They do work of hand.
Historically, and rooted to Bangla folk culture, quilting is a tradition, a heritage among rural women. Living Blue has worked to revive the quilting techniques and in process provide income to artisans.
Every quilter works in open space, which ensures plenty of work space. They have floor mats and bags to protect the textile in hand. Living Blue management team visits the villages on a regular basis and strict code is followed.

3. Does your business take responsibility for the safety and security of workers in their own house?

Living Blue: at this point the 50-odd full-time artisans shall soon fall under the insurance scheme.

4. With this home-working model, how do you help workers manage work and family care?

Living Blue: artisans make their own working hours, coping the day with other family chores. Typically they work for 3-5 hours per day, when there is work at hand. They are given a flexible dateline and working conditions, and this is followed by everyone.

5. Does your firm currently ensure the workers’ children get a proper education?

Living Blue: The payments of the artisans are given considering multiple spending needs, and education of their children is one. In near future, we shall provide more funds for education, and work with local primary schools too.

6. What other benefits does your company provide to the worker?

Living Blue: Artisans and management team are provided with zero % interest loans. They are also offered doctor referrals and company takes care of the cost too. Underway is health camps in all the 6 clusters where government doctors are taken to villages to provide health care. Then the company also takes special note of the eye patients, and takes responsibility of the logistics and cost.
Other benefits include fund for any loss in their family too.

7. What types of problems do you face in your efforts to create a more sustainable production process?

Living Blue: we face challenge in streamlining the current growth in business, and to address that we have taken support of management software, by digitalizing every step in the chain. This will make our business more transparent, efficient than now and creative environment.
Otherwise, we have a strong management system in place, where every step is critically followed. We do not do more work than we have capacity for, that is how we keep our quality in check.

8. Is your product for the international market only or also available in the local market?

Living Blue: Our products are available for both the market. However, in Bangladesh we do not have a retail partner. We sell directly in fairs and trunk shows.

9. What is the total number of worker? And how many shifts do they work in a week?

Living Blue: in the central Living Blue Workshop, 40 to 50 artisans can work at a time. They all have one shift and that from 9 am to 5 pm, for six days a week. There is never a shift in the evening, nor do any of them work ‘overtime’.
In total we have 1071 artisans and farmers, during season, or from home or in the Workshop.

10. Does your worker get their salary properly every month?

Living Blue: Payments are cleared every month, without fail.

11. Does your company provide any insurance to your staff?

Living Blue: we are in the midst of a process to be put in place from fiscal year 2015-2016. Under the initial scheme, the permanent artisans shall be covered under workplace insurance.

12. Any medical facilities on-site?

Living Blue” in every union, the government has their ‘community clinics’. There are clinics of different health organizations and there is always the Thana Health Complex. We seek support from these medical facilities, moreover, provide direct medical services.

13. What are the maternity leave policies?
Living Blue: We allow 6 months maternity leave.

14. How do you think your organization contributes to the long term economic development of Bangladesh?

Living Blue: Living Blue directly contributes in local economy of the northern region, in household level, and in other regions too through working with weavers. The nature of our business ensures the people living in the bottom of the pyramid gets access to income opportunities, access to market and trained in self-governance. Each of them are changemakers and leaders, besides being an artisan and a farmer.

15. Are you thinking of industrializing this indigo cultivation?

Living Blue: we are in the fore-front of indigo research and cultivation in Bangladesh, and producers of the finest Indigo, perhaps, in the world. We are producing as per market demand and have plans to steadily increase the farmers’ coverage and production.

16. What are the processes of training up your workers? Are your trainers local or foreigner?

Living Blue: Each cluster has a number of master artisans and under their tutelage a continuous training model is in place. All the senior artisans and dyers are entitled to train their apprentice. We also seek technical support from foreign experts. Living Blue ensures an environment of continuous improvement and learning and creativity.

17. Did your workers get any welfare fund after training?

Living Blue: each apprentice is provided with adequate training materials and trainee allowances. After they get trained and graduate into the regular artisan group, they get regular work in hand. All welfare and benefits are linked with the work they do.

18. Tell us about your mission & vision.

Living Blue:

Our values are:

– High quality products

– Labor intensive technology

– Increasing employment

– Socio-economic development in rural communities

– Developing the skill, talent, and productivity of marginalized communities through social business and innovation.

Our aspiration is to sustainably nurture communities, through job creation and skill development.

19. What are the good things about natural dyes and what are the bad things about them?

Living Blue: The good thing about indigo as a natural is that it benefits the farmers. Besides that, this creates employment opportunities and helps to revive organic and ethical fashion culture.
The bad side may be it slow and niche market, that needs to grow and more people needs to be educated the benefits of natural dyes.


Beximco Textiles

Over the years, the company has developed in-house design capabilities with teams based in Spain as well as Bangladesh. Moreover, having partnered up with some of the world’s most renowned design institutes including Fashion Institute of Technology, Parsons, London School of Fashions, NIFT and NID, Bextex not only gets access to talented designers but has also built strong working relationships all over the world with clients and designers alike. Key clients of the company include American Eagle, Arcadia, Calvin Klein, H&M, JC Penney, Tommy Hilfiger, Warnaco and Zara. Bextex’s retail apparel Yellow is a design driven, youthful brand that celebrates creative and original thinking to highlight a lighthearted view of life through quality products. The adventurous spirit of this line captures a modern interpretation of fashion and relaxed attitude expresses comfort and confidence. Furthermore, Bextex has a synthetics division as well as a jute manufacturing and production section.

After attending an informative seminar on the mission of Fashion Revolution, the fashion design students of BGMEA University of Fashion and Techonology divided into groups and were assigned case study companies to research.

The students read everything they could on the companies and compiled a questionnaire to gain firsthand insight into the company’s general policies as well as its sustainability initiatives and/or advanced labor practices.

Below are the questionnaires and responses from the case studies.

1.Tell us about your upcycling program, how it works, how long it has been in force and how it is progressing.

The Upcycling program at Beximco has been running for almost three years in collaboration with Aus Design, from Estonia. We analyze the waste systems and address the key areas that produce the most amount of waste by new organizational, and collection methods, and new upcycling strategies, best to fit the situation.

2. How have the workers’ skills and responsibilities changed and grown from their participation in the upcycling process?

The team started very small but the department has grown to form an amazing team of people that are ready and willing to think outside the box and are quick on their feet to problem solve. Workers have become experts on predicting where there may be faults or problems and addressing them before they become an issue. They are now amazing at problem solving and slightly changing the way they work to match a particular style or type of waste. We discuss with the members of the team to come up with the best ways to complete a project together, which creates dynamic and exciting conversations.

3. Do workers enjoy the new challenges of the upcycled process?

At first people were nervous because there can be a lot of room for error in the beginning. But with upcycling we understand it takes many trials and a lot of patience. Pointing out mistakes are celebrated, we need to catch these things before they become a bigger issue. This is drastically different than previous work for many people. Errors are expected at first and it takes a lot of getting used to. But once people understand, they are excited to participate in discussions and feel as though their opinions are validated through working with the department and coming up with solutions together.

4. When did you decide to create a sustainability department and how does it function?

I started as an intern at Beximco in the textile department, but after seeing first hand how much waste comes out of a factory I shifted my focus towards possibilities for fabric remnants and reject pieces. I began to develop case studies and samples to see what could be accomplished. At the end of my internship I approached management with my research and ideas. To my surprise they wanted to start a department that focuses on addressing Upcycling waste! At the same time Reet Aus from Aus Design (PHD Upcyling) was using factory waste to make upcycled collections complete with extensive environmental calculations, so we partnered up to focus on industrial upcyclcing at Beximco.

5. What results have you seen from the upcycling initiative? What has the impact on waste reduction been so far and do you have plans for expanding the program or is it still in an experimental phase?

We have produced many upcycled collections and have produced order up to 23,000 shirts from rejected garments. The program will continue to expand with hope of achieving zero waste in the future.

6. What advice do you have for other factories to start their own upcycling initiatives? Are there unique capabilities at Beximco that made it possible or can any factory try this idea?

Having a supportive management that is open to possibilities is key. It takes a lot of effort and transformation, in order to make upcycling possible.

7. Were there any unique obstacles you faced in this effort?

Organizing and collecting different types of waste (rejected garments, rejected panels, cutting waste, rollends) in ways that could then be easily and quickly sent into an upcyling production, is always the big challenge. There are many things to consider and it takes a lot of effort in planning to make it possible.

8. What are your longer term plans regarding sustainability overall?

As far as upcycling goes, becoming zero waste would be the end goal. Turning anything possible back into usable fabrics or clothes, and finally taking remaining small pieces and recycled them into new yarn to be used again.

Ironing section of Finishing Department_r

Desh Garments

Desh Garments Ltd twice received the President’s National Award. Furthermore in 1988, the company received Grand Prix for Commercial Quality in Europe for highest export earnings for two consecutive years with annual exports consisting of five million pieces. Desh was also the country’s highest North American quota holder for several years. Desh earned an impeccable reputation in the industry because of their consensus based management approach and an early adaptation of decentralised corporate management structure. Noorul Quader, the founder of Desh Garments, is accredited with being a pioneer in the field, introduced the Bonded Warehouse system and the Back-to-back Letter of Credit system. The Back-to-back Letter of Credit system eliminated the need for monetary working capital as well as the need for foreign exchange in the RMG industry of Bangladesh. This enabled entrepreneurs to set up factories with low capital investments allowing a rapid growth of the industry.

After attending an informative seminar on the mission of Fashion Revolution, the fashion design students of BGMEA University of Fashion and Techonology divided into groups and were assigned case study companies to research.

The students read everything they could on the companies and compiled a questionnaire to gain firsthand insight into the company’s general policies as well as its sustainability initiatives and/or advanced labor practices.

Below are the questionnaires and responses from the case studies:

1) (i) What are the challenges you wanted to take in particular for the production growth in sustainable forms?

It is the most important thing to maintain the lead time from the confirmation of respective order. Within the schedule to obtain the respective approvals, raw materials in house on time, PP approval , conduct of PP meeting on time and obtain of bulk cutting permission. On the other hand is very essential to maintain the lean management, to minimize the lead time in between starting of new style and closing of old styles. Strong team work and effective communication within the different section/department.

(ii) What are the challenging areas of Desh Garments?

To source value added customers, procurement of raw materials from own source and to maintain the lead time from confirmation of any new order.

(iii) How does Desh Garments manage their compliant environment?

Desh has a strong team of HR and Compliance staff who audit the factory as per the rules and regulations of all compliance standards. Desh always follows and maintains buyers’ compliance requirements and updates the factory accordingly. Desh has some world standard certificate WRAP, BSCI, KOHL’S etc and other buyer specific compliance requirements and standards. We have also been audited by Alliance and currently undergoing their corrective recommendations.

2) What efforts are you making for better worker well being?

We are providing a hygienic environment to workers. We pay them on time, as per the roles and regulation of Bangladesh Government Labour Law and wage policies. We give financial benefit like maternity benefits, earn leave etc. We provide them health assistance during working hour in factory. We have a child care center in factory for infants. Currently, Desh is running the HER Project in the factory.
3) (i)In terms of resource efficiency, have you been able to cut back on material or water?

(ii) Do you recycle your resources?

(vi) Tell us about your waste management program. When did you first implement it and what made you decide it?

We are a 100% garment manufacturing and exporting facility. We do not have a waste management program, as it is not required currently. However, natural recycling takes place and we have a rain water reservoir from which we use water in the toilets when necessary. Filtered water is otherwise used in the factory for workers purposes.

4) Are you thinking about any plan on adaptation of ETP ( EFFLUENT TREATMENT PLANT ) IF yes then how would you conserve energy ? What are some of the ways?

We think ETP is necessary for composite project like washing, dying etc and is not applicable to us.

5) (i)Does Desh garments engage in any kind of social responsibility in terms of the communities you employ?

No, not as yet but we have plans to do so once we go into further expansion of our facilities later this year.

6)When did you begin working on sustainability? Do you have long term plan or have you achieved your goals?

We did not start any project for sustainability, however have plans to do so later this year upon expansion of our facilities.

7)How does Desh Garments ensureworker safety?

Being a complaint factory, Desh has taken all recommended steps by auditors and buyers to make the work place safe, for example by using metal gloves, eye guards, masks, etc. We have a fully installed fire fighting system and also training sessions for the workers for all emergency incidents that could occur. We further have in house seminars and awareness programs to use of PPE and avoid to keep themselves away from any kind of hazard.

8)Do they provide maternity leave for their women workers or childcare facilities?

We are providing maternity leave, benefit and child care facilities.

09)Is first aid available? Do you have a doctor available in case of emergency?

Yes, first aid facilities are easily available on the floor along with a medical centre where by there is a fully licensed doctor available during factory working hours.

10)Are workers offered a nutritious lunch?

We do not provide lunch but we do pay the mandatory amount required through the monthly pay scale.

11)Do your workers get transportation to and from work?




Friendship works in some of the hardest to reach areas of Bangladesh that are almost completely deprived of other non-government or government amenities and facilities. These are mostly disaster prone areas comprised of inhabitants who are almost completely dependent on agricultural based livelihoods thus making their lives uncertain. In order to ensure constant sources of income, Friendship ‘Colours from the Chars’ provides Vocational Training Courses and alternative income generation options. Friendship additionally provides support and training for livestock rearing, poultry farming, fishing and maximising agricultural outputs. Friendship received the WCC Award of Excellence for Handicrafts for the 2014 South Asia Programme.

After attending an informative seminar on the mission of Fashion Revolution, the fashion design students of BGMEA University of Fashion and Techonology divided into groups and were assigned case study companies to research.

The students read everything they could on the companies and compiled a questionnaire to gain firsthand insight into the company’s general policies as well as its sustainability initiatives and/or advanced labor practices.

Below are the questionnaires and responses from the case studies.

1. How does ‘Friendship’ help agrarian societies find alternative sources of income?

Friendship works in some of the hard to reach areas of Bangladesh- areas that are almost completely deprived of all other non-Government and Government amenities and facilities. These are disaster-prone areas and the inhabitants are almost completely dependent on agricultural based livelihoods- which make their lives uncertain. In order to ensure constant sources of income, Friendship “Colours from the Chars” provides Vocational Training Courses and alternative income generation options in the form of:

  • Training and employment in 7 Weaving, Dyeing and Printing Centres
  • Training and employment in 2 Sewing Centres
  • Training and employment in 1 Embroidery Centre

Friendship additionally provides support and training for livestock rearing, poultry farming, fishing and maximizing agricultural outputs.

2. What are the main processers of training at Friendship?

Friendship “Colours from the Chars” works towards the empowerment of women living in some of the most hard to reach and vulnerable communities of Bangladesh. It works in the char areas (unstable riverine islets) of the Brahmaputra River in Northern Bangladesh and trains women in weaving and producing materials using hand looms – a tradition stitched into the heritage of Bengal. The women are selected on a needs basis- those requiring employment or training the most (often widowed or divorced women left to take charge of their families) are selected first. Friendship’s Char Development Committees (composed of members of the char communities) aid in deciding on who the beneficiaries would be. Requests from women who need training and employment are also considered in the selection process.

In the weaving centres, women are trained on (processes listed chronologically):

  • Washing yarn
  • Dyeing
  • Bobbin winding
  • Drawing
  • Warping
  • Finally the looms are set up and the women are taught to weave yardage materials, scarves and sarees.

The women are offered employment at the centres upon completion of their training

In the sewing centres, women are trained to sew in all the various sewing techniques possible to stitch and over lock techniques using a home-based sewing machine. They are also trained to use an industrial machine, in case they wish to seek employment on one of the factories on mainland.

In the embroidery centre, the women are trained on the different techniques including tracing, design printing, applique work and all kinds of embroidery they can perform using a home-based sewing machine.

Upon completion of their training in the sewing and embroidery centres, Friendship offers the women sewing machines to those who have shown promise and they can pay back the loans by working as seamstresses from their homes. Others are allowed to continue practice at the centre with their own fabrics and in their own time so that they can improve their skills till they are confident to work on their own.

Friendship “Colours from the Chars” sometimes asks these women to return to the centres for producing stitched/ embroidered items or outsources stitched/ embroidered item requirements to women with sewing machines in their homes. They are paid for their service as independent entrepreneurs/ service providers.

3.What is the main goal of this training process?

The ultimate aim of Friendship “Colours from the Chars” is to empower women by training them on marketable skills followed by creating employment opportunities for them.

4. How does “friendship” divide the people in the training program?

All training is localized- each centre selects women living on the chars the centres are located in to train them. The women are selected on a needs basis- those requiring employment or training the most (often widow or divorced women left to take charge of their families) are selected first. Friendship’s Char Development Committees (composed of members of the char communities) aid in deciding on who the beneficiaries would be. Requests from women who need training and employment are also considered in the selection process.

5.Who joins the training process generally?

The trainer and assistant trainer are joined by the trainer coordinator and the technical expert in the training process.

6.How is the response on the training process of friendship?

The trainees are generally women who are truly in dire straits – be it financially, from a familial perspective or at times even socially. Their ability to earn enough to support  their households provides security and the respect of their communities for which they have expressed sincere gratitude. New trainees are excited at the prospect of training and working in the centres and the response has been truly heartening so far.

7.In which section are people more interested to learn in training process?

Each centre is equipped to provide a maximum range of skills with the looms/ sewing machines in them. Each trainee is trained in every single skill set that the centre is equipped to provide. No specific interest is shown in any particular segment of training as the trainees understand that the entirety of the training will be beneficial for their future careers.

8.How long does the training process take?

Training periods in the Embroidery and Weaving Centres are 6 months long while training periods in the sewing centres last for 3 months.

9.Do you think in this time period the group of people can learn the things properly to start their own business?

This is not applicable for the weaving centres where the trainees are trained for future employment in the centres themselves or other weaving centres elsewhere. The sewing and embroidery centres train women well enough for them to start working as seamstresses on their own (whether they become service providers or start their businesses depends on the availability of sewing machines and competence- Friendship provides the more skilled trainees with loans for sewing machines). For those trainees who need longer training periods to excel, they are invited to stay back for extended training periods so they are able to become independent service providers/ entrepreneurs or seek employment on the mainland.

10.What is needed to grow this program sustainably?

The sustainability of this programme depends on effective marketing of the products and the principles guiding our work. In an environment where consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the need for ethics in fashion, Friendship “Colours from the Chars” needs to convey its fundamental principles of ethical fashion based on empowerment of women in the poorest communities, usage of environmentally conscientious raw materials (no synthetic fabrics and only AZO free chemical dyes and natural dyes) and the promotion of a true heritage of Bangladesh. Consumers should be shown that quality fabrics can be produced in an ethical and sustainable manner. The business would also need the support of the customer to be able to sustain.

11.How does ‘Friendship’ give assistance to the trainees?

Following training, Friendship “Colours from the Chars” either offers employment to the trainees or creates opportunities for them to be self-employed or employed elsewhere. The Weaving Centres offer employment to the graduates of the training programme- half of the looms being reserved for the employment of these graduates. The sewing and embroidery centres offer loans for sewing machines to those graduates who have shown the most promise, along with offering them employment periodically as hired seamstresses. Friendship itself also often offers further help in its holistic development process.

12.Does “Friendship” provide any kind of loan system to make this worker more economically sustainable?

Apart from providing loans for sewing machines to the more expert graduates of the sewing and embroidery centres, Friendship itself often provides livestock, poultry and agricultural loans to the trainees for them to be able to maximize their income generation.

13.What does ‘Friendship’ do to generate more employment?

Friendship’s works in the North of Bangladesh are in the char areas where the only income generation opportunities for people come about from uncertain seasonal agricultural activities. All the training provided are aimed towards creating marketable skills, whether in our Weaving, Sewing or Embroidery Centres or as Friendship’s teachers and Community Medic-Aides or through the different loans in agriculture, homestead gardening, fishing, poultry and livestock farming.

14. Friendship” owns a weaving center on the Island of Brahmaputra River in the north of Bangladesh. How has this impacted the community?

Friendship “Colours from the Chars” operates 7 weaving centres, 2 sewing centres and 1 embroidery centre in the islands in the Brahmaputra River in the North of Bangladesh. As a result of this project, there is now a skilled set of workers, notably women, residing in these areas. These workers are employed, either in the centres or through their own ventures. The women are able to maintain stability in their households as a result of their added incomes. Those who have children inform us that they are able to send their children to school instead of having to send them to work to sustain their family. These women are also respected more at home and in their communities and are able to have greater say in the decision making process in their families.

15.How many workers are in the weaving center there?

There are currently 130 women employed in Friendship’s weaving centres, 6 in the sewing centres and 6 in the embroidery centres.

16. What kind of machines do you use there? Are they electric or hand looms?

We only use handlooms in our weaving centres and this includes the drums and charkas associated with traditional hand looms. Furthermore, there are wooden blocks, wax print tables, wax print blocks and kerosene burners in the printing centres.

17. Does everyone who completes the training process able to join the weaving center for employment?

50% of the functions of each centre are reserved for the employment of trainees who have performed well. Due to high migration rates between the chars, there is always scope for employment for the graduates in the centres.

18. How do you collect the raw materials for the weaving center?

The only “raw materials” collected for the centres are cotton and the dyes and they are bought after completion of a careful market survey and are sourced from trusted local vendors. The 80 count cottons are from Bangladeshi producers while the 100 count cottons are those coming in from India to the local vendors. This is because that particular quality of cotton is not produced in large qualities in Bangladesh. The only chemical dyes we use are AZO free chemical dyes that we buy from Dysin group while the natural dyes are all bought locally from a variety of different vendors. The only imported natural dye is Monjit (rust colour), which is not available locally.

19.What technologies are you using to improve the sustainability of this weaving center?

The weaving centres are not reliant on any further technologies than the ones they are currently employing for them to be sustainable. The ethical and environmentally conscientious nature of the products ensures the longevity of the business and they now require greater awareness building and improved marketing for the consumers to be aware of their facets.

20.How do you sell the products?

Friendship International is promoting and selling a large amount of the weaving centre products at the moment, in association with our designers, Anne-Marie Herckes and Virginie Depoorter. Locally, we are grateful for craft bazaars and word of mouth business, along with small scale orders from companies such as Aranya.

21.What are “friendship’s” goals for this weaving center?

Friendship’s ultimate goal for the weaving centres is to empower women and to help them stand on their own two feet.

22.How do you manage sustainability and economic growth?

As in all our programmes, we are working towards long-term sustainable development of the char communities through our weaving centres. This requires keeping a close look on the gender balance issues in terms of empowerment of women, ensuring the production process does not harm the environment and the overall Behavioural Change Communication required for the communities to understand the need for handling economic and financial growth delicately and sensibly.

23.To develop economic sustainability, what are the key efforts?

The Healthcare sector seeks to ensure the minimized suffering of the people so that they are able to continue in their development process. The education sector focuses on educating both adults and children. The Adult Literacy programme was commenced to develop literacy amongst the adult members of the intervention communities and to improve their awareness to ease the handling of daily activities such as carrying out business transactions, understanding written messages and writing letters. The Sustainable Economic Development programme focuses on providing alternative income generating opportunities through a risk-sharing model which includes innovative 5 different projects: agriculture, fishermen, vocational training, rural electrification and water treatment plants. Disaster Preparedness minimizes the loss, these intervention communities faced almost annually while the Good Governance Programme seeks to ensure that their rights are met. These efforts are all instrumental in economic sustainability- one cannot have economic sustainability without this holistic development.

24.Why is agriculture no longer likely to be a dependable source of income?

In areas as unstable as the chars, agricultural sources of income could be undependable because a major part of the chars go under water almost annually due to flooding and they are constantly eroding. In order to ensure that they are not living a hand-to-mouth life, the people of these communities must be trained in marketable skills and also made to save as much as they can while they are thriving.

25.How they can help people in agrarian societies?

As mentioned above, Friendship has adopted an integrated, holistic approach to development in these societies for them to be able to reach a tipping point from which they can take off.

26.What are Friendship’s on-going vocational training programmes in thechar areas?

Friendship provides vocational training in weaving, dyeing and printing, along with sewing and embroidery.

27.Which programs are the most eco-friendly?

All Friendship programmes need to be eco-friendly as we work in those areas that are the most affected by climate change in Bangladesh. We strive to maintain an environmentally conscious approach in all our programmes.

28.How they start serving in remote areas?

Friendship’s key working areas comprise of some of the most remote and inaccessible chars and riverbank areas of Gaibandha and Kurigram district, which are situated in northern Bangladesh, as well as areas in the south including Bagerhat, Patuakhali and Barguna district. We commenced our work with serving remote communities to meet the overwhelming needs that others were unable to meet at that point. This began with healthcare and has since developed into 6 integrated programmes with Education, Disaster Management and Infrastructure Development, Sustainable Economic Development, Good Governance and Cultural Preservation.

29.What are the mission and vision of Friendship?

Friendship’s vision is of “a world where people, especially the hard to reach and unaddressed, will have equal opportunity to live with dignity and hope.” The organization’s mission is “to contribute to an environment of justice and equity to empower people to reach their full potential through a sustainable, integrated development approach.”

30.How many employees are there on the friendship team?

There are currently 703 full time employees on the Friendship team.

31.As they received many prestigious awards, what are their next steps for future development?

Friendship will grow and replicate its services in a controlled manner in the next few years in order to promote development of these communities, keeping in mind its values of dignity, integrity, justice, quality and hope.

32.Have any of your initiatives failed?

Friendship has worked towards gathering deep grass-roots experiences which allows us to understand the needs of the communities in which we work, thereby designing interventions accordingly. We are blessed to have the support and understanding of the communities and donors which allow our initiatives to progress smoothly.

33.What challenges they see for the industry at large in becoming more sustainable or more ethical?

Very often, the sustainable and ethical methods of work are time-consuming and costlier than their alternatives. This means that the industry will still need to fight an uphill battle against convincing producers that commercialism need not be hindered by sustainable and ethical practices. Results in the long-term would be beneficial for the consumer, the economy, the environment and eventually for the producer.

34.What are you doing to make your organization exemplary one?

 In order for Friendship to serve as a model for development, we need to constantly stay true to our values of dignity, integrity, justice, quality and hope. In a country like Bangladesh people have very simple needs and we have to come to them with simple solutions. Very often the projects which make maximum impact are those providing the people access to their basic rights such as health, education and other basic services. We work towards ensuring these rights, integrating our values into the mix. We work with empathy and deep grassroots experiences and design solutions only according to the needs of individual communities. This is vital.

35.In which areas of Bangladesh is friendship working?

Friendship’s key working areas comprise of some of the most remote and inaccessible chars and riverbank areas of Gaibandha and Kurigram district, which are situated in northern Bangladesh, as well as areas in the south including Bagerhat, Patuakhali and Barguna district.

36.What types of work does chars do?

Chars are low lying flood and erosion prone islets adjacent to major rivers. These are formed by the constant deposition of sand and silt and fragmentation. These nomadic islands are temporary due to constant erosion, caused by the powerful flow of adjacent rivers. Chars are one of two types: The first are semi-permanent and have life spans between 5-30 years and are continuously changing their shapes due to bank erosion. The second are even shorter lived with life spans between a few months to a few years.

37.Tell us about the achievements of this organization.


Friendship wins World Crafts Council’s Award of Excellence for Handicrafts 2014

Friendship has won World Crafts Council – Award of Excellence for Handicrafts in the Asia Pacific region, 2014. Friendship participated with a cotton scarf made in our Holokhana weaving centre. The awarded entries will be on display at the Ministry of Trade of Indonesia and at the upcoming International Exhibition in Dongyang, China for World Craft Council’s Golden Jubilee celebration.


Business Excellence Award from Arthokonto and Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce of Singapore (2014)

Friendship received the ‘Business Excellence Award’ at an event in the Shangri-La Hotel, in Singapore on the 19th of April 2014. The Award is organised every year by Arthokantho and Bangladesh Business Chamber of Singapore.

Social Innovation Leadership Award by the World CSR Congress (2014)

The World CSR Congress takes places every year to spread the message of Sustainable CSR which makes a difference to the community at large. In 2013-2014, Runa Khan received the ‘Social Innovation Leadership Award’ for her contribution to community development of the people in the chars and coastal areas of Bangladesh.

Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur Award (2012)

Runa Khan is one of twenty-six global social entrepreneurs to receive the prestigious 2012 Social Entrepreneur Award from the Schwab Foundation.

Runa Khan Guest of Honor at the Rolex Awards for Enterprise (2011)

On 7 December 2011, to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, an event was co-hosted by Rolex and the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) at the 180 year old institution’s London headquarters. Runa Khan was among the six guest of honours.

Friendship awarded as the best performing NGO in Gaibandha (2011)

Friendship awarded the fame of the best performance NGO for the year of 2010-2011 in Gaibandha district for its activity on Family Planning, Child Health & Mother Care by The Department of Family Planning under the ministry of Health and Family Planning of the Government of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh.

Runa Khan Awarded SCWEC Women Entrepreneur Excellence Award (2010)

Runa Khan Awarded the Prestigious SCWEC Women Entrepreneur Excellence Award 2010 in Chennai, India.

IDB Award for Contribution to Women in Development (2008)

Runa Khan received this award in 2008 in recognition of her efforts to improve healthcare of women in Bangladesh.

Rolex Award for enterprise (2006)

The Rolex award which supports exceptional people who are breaking new ground in areas which advance human knowledge and well-being, was awarded to Runa Khan for her work in keeping alive the Bangladeshi tradition of boat-making, especially through restoration, building exact models by skilled boat-builders, documenting the technology and taking initiative to use the knowledge in conjunction with new technology.

Women Entrepreneurship Award by Arthokonto (2003)

Runa Khan was awarded with Arthakantha Business Award 2003 for her contribution to identify and reach the poorest of the poor and the most marginalized communities and providing them with medical help with the unique floating hospital the Lifebuoy Friendship Hospital.

Government award for best design for the book “The Flower Maiden and Other Stories” (2001)

Ashoka Fellowship for innovative teaching methodology (1994)

Runa Khan has developed a series of “user-friendly” goal-oriented textbooks to replace the ossified rote learning methods employed in the Bangladeshi school system. The text books, which emphasize critical thinking and self-directed learning, have been instrumental in significantly improving student performance.

Innovative teaching methodology became part of the accepted system of the National Curriculum Educational Board in Bangladesh (1990)

Runner-up in National Award for books on education “Playschool Activity Book 1 and 2” (1990)

38.What types of programs do you have in this organization?

Friendship has 6 integrated programmes for development including healthcare, education, disaster management and infrastructure development, sustainable economic development, good governance and cultural preservation.

39.What kinds of local knowledge are you learning?

It is very important for us to understand the behavioural and livelihood patterns of our intervention communities so we can design our developmental solutions accordingly. Furthermore, the locals understand the topographical traits that we must also take into account better than us, which we also need to factor in. Knowledge sharing has become a two-way street for Friendship, where members of our intervention communities and our trainers are constantly learning from each other.

40.What does ‘friendship’ do to spread awareness about its activities?

Friendship has been blessed with a solid body of supporters and the Friendship International bodies, who, along with Mrs. Runa Khan spread the word about Friendship’s activities and takes the stories of the char communities to people across the world.

41.Do you export the product from 7 weaving center?

While we are not exporting at the moment, the Weaving Centres are preparing for such a period as more and more consumers are showing their enthusiasm and support for the centres.

42.What kinds of product produce in weaving center?

We are currently producing yard materials, scarves and sarees in the weaving centres. The yard materials are used in the sewing centres as well to produce stitched materials like bags, dresses, curtains, and so on.

43. Do you appoint any particular designer to design these products?

Our supporters include designers Anne-Marie and Virginie Depoorter, who have designed some truly beautiful designs for the artisans in our weaving centres. The production team also designs many of sarees produced.

44.Right now in how many areas does friendship work?

 In northern Bangladesh, Friendship focuses its activities in the chars and riverbank areas of Gaibandha, Chillmari and Kurigram district. In the South, Friendship works in Bagerhat, Patuakhali and Barguna and Sathkhira districts.