BRAC, H&M Foundation, and The Asia Foundation have announced the six winners of the international competition titled “STITCH for RMG: Global Innovation Challenge”. The announcement was made on 7 February 2022 during a virtual event organized by BRAC Social Innovation Lab, H&M Foundation, and The Asia Foundation.
The six winning teams of the competition are: Agroshift, iSmart, Jyoti, Quizrr, Sustify, and ToguMogu.
As part of the awards, winning teams will receive grants up to USD 30,000 to pilot their solutions. In addition, the winners will have the opportunity to participate in bootcamp training with mentors, incubators, and accelerators.
The “STITCH for RMG: Global Innovation Challenge” is part of the STITCH for RMG pilot project undertaken by BRAC, H&M Foundation, and The Asia Foundation. The goal of the project is to create an environment that advances the welfare and livelihood of women in the ready-made garments sector of Bangladesh as well as boost Bangladesh’s performance in the RMG industry.
The competition was launched in October of last year (2021) to promote improved livelihood opportunities for women working in Bangladesh's export-oriented readymade garment factories, promote gender equality on factory floors, and enhance factory performance.
The competition began with a concept round in which 220 applications were received, and 50 applications were shortlisted for video submissions in the "pitching round". Twelve teams won the chance to move on to the final round, which featured a virtual marketplace offering partnerships with RMG factories. Through a competitive process, the winning teams secured opportunities to incubate their projects in these factories that had volunteered to provide time, space, and other resources for the purpose.
In the Marketplace Round, the competitors from both Bangladesh and beyond were able to speak with factory owners and representatives about their ideas, which allowed them to understand the likely demand and feasibility of their solutions on the ground. It was a matchmaking process where factory owners showed interest in developing their business with the team with whom they were matched.
The competing ideas and solutions covered a range of topics, from health to skill development, security to sustainability, and others. Nine teams moved forward with factories based on the practicality of their solutions. Of them, six teams won the competition.
Meet the winning companies
Agroshift: Creating a demand-driven digital grocery platform for RMG workers.
Agroshift aims to roll out a digital grocery ordering platform for RMG factory workers and employees providing primarily agro commodities like vegetables, fruits, rice, pulses, milk, and meat, along with other daily needs. Agroshift will eliminate the middlemen in the supply chain and provide workers direct access to high-quality, safe, and affordable food. Workers can place digital orders through a mobile app or physically through ordering kiosks (containing fixed-mobile tablets) set up at designated places within the factories. Agroshift will fulfill orders by procuring directly from their farmer networks located across 4 districts of Bangladesh, taking care of the sorting, grading, packaging, and delivery at factories. Almost 60% of the RMG workforce are women, who will benefit directly by saving 15% in grocery shopping. They will also save time from doing daily groceries and have improved nutritional levels.
i-SMART: Developing a standardized skill matrix for women sewing workers.
i-SMART team will initiate a technology development process in the factory to establish the use of i-SMART skill rating matrix for standard assessment of the workers’ skills. This will reduce the chances of exploitation and underappreciation of talents in factories. i-SMART will conduct a handholding training and equipment dry-run to check all equipment and processes in the factory to start the rating process and develop SOP for seamless control and reporting. The i-SMART team will remotely monitor the progress through telephone/VC/e-mail. The pilot aims to complete the rating of 1000 sewing workers showing 09 different generic skill rating scores during the pilot phase, collect the feedback of direct stakeholders (women sewing workers and supervisors and management), and meet other prospective garment manufacturers for wider adoption across the industry.
Quizrr: Building female role models with dialogue, equality, tech, and leadership skills, from the factory floor and up.
Quizrr will equip women in the RMG sector with knowledge, skills, and tools on dialogue-based problem solving, equality, leadership qualities, and digital literacy, preparing them for new learnings and opportunities in the Bangladesh RMG sector of the future. Quizrr will make training available through an engaging worker-centric platform, on touchscreen tablets and smartphones - reaching employees in, or even before entering the RMG sector in Bangladesh. It is a scalable knowledge platform that will use relatable films and gamified quizzes that will be infused with engaging content ( quick quiz style and more) focusing on topics such as dialogue-based problem solving, role model leadership, financial literacy, and career planning. Other than infusing knowledge and confidence in the individual, tech-based training promotes collaborative skills and digital literacy. In short, we want to build knowledge and capacity from the bottom up, in female workers in Bangladesh, starting with the basics, leveling up with the end-users: female (and male) RMG workers in Bangladesh. The pilot will see reduced worker turnover, worker satisfaction, increased productivity, productive workplace dialogue, and female workers expressing their interest in becoming leaders, line managers, and worker representatives.
Sustify: Building capacity through Gamified Microlearning for female factory workers in Bangladesh.
Sustify is an interactive e-learning platform used on tablets that gamifies learning on work-related topics and increases digital skills. Sustify aims to offer a low-threshold and motivating entry into workplace learning for female garment workers with little learning experience. The courses are specially designed for workers. Among its unique features: easy-to-grasp training material for all users and learning content dynamically tailored to each user's progress. During the pilot, Sustify aims to develop a course including subjects such as (female) worker rights, in the long run increasing retention based on the principle of spacing and repetition.
ToguMogu: Supporting female RMG workers through a health and wellbeing platform making their parenthood stress-free and increasing productivity in the workplace.
ToguMogu is a one-stop parenting platform. ToguMogu’s pilot at the readymade garment factories aims to provide health and wellbeing support to the female garment workers from the stage of pregnancy to the first 5 years of their children’s lives. During the pilot phase, ToguMogu intends to develop a primary healthcare support solution for female RMG workers through their app, develop a low-tech version of the platform for non-smartphone users, and appropriate contextualized content for female RMG workers. ToguMogu will also arrange several workshops on physical health during pregnancy and child development to onboard the workers in the platform. The goal of the pilot is to ensure job retention after pregnancy and other health issues of female garment workers. At the same time, ToguMogu will focus on family wellbeing that helps to improve productivity in the factory.
Jyoti: Removing the barriers of access to sanitary pads for RMG factory workers improving menstrual hygiene
Jyoti is a solution provided by Vertical Innovation Ltd. through which the team aims to make sanitary pads affordable and easily accessible by women garment workers. The team will install smart vending machines on one of the floors of the factories where female employees can access and collect both full packets or units of sanitary pads at an affordable price. The initiative also includes awareness buildup and training on smart collection processes for the employees of the partner factory. The aim of the pilot is to build the habit of using menstrual hygiene products among the workers by making it accessible to them. The direct outcomes entice:
Cover photo: Team TogoMogu, Sustify, Quizrr, Jyoti, i-Smart, Agroshift (left to right)