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Spurring innovation to improve gender equality on the factory floor

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Through an international innovation challenge, we were looking for innovations with the potential to advance the industry competitiveness – and improve the livelihoods of women garment workers and the gender equality on the factory floor in Bangladesh.

The transformation towards a textile industry in Bangladesh characterized by automation and digital technology provides great opportunities but also risks for millions of jobs, especially for women. Women represent most of the workforce in the RMG industry and they often have routinized jobs at high risk of automation.

To empower women and increase female employability, the H&M Foundation, BRAC and The Asia Foundation  joined forces to equip women textile workers for an automated and digitized future work in Bangladesh. The “STITCH for RMG Global Innovation Challenge” was designed to identify the most impactful local and global business innovations that have the potential to improve the industry competitiveness and livelihood of women garment workers.

Agroshift, one of the winners of STITCH for RMG Global Innovation Challenge, offers a digital grocery platform for garment workers.

USD 30,000 and exclusive partnerships with engaged factories

The six winners of the “STITCH for RMG Global Innovation Challenge” 2022 are:

  • Agroshift – A digital grocery platform for garment workers
  • i-SMART – An objective platform to rate sewing skills
  • Jyoti – Accessible sanitary pads to improve menstrual hygiene for garment workers
  • Quizrr – Leadership training to promote female role models
  • Sustify – Gamified microlearning for women garment workers
  • ToguMogu –   A platform supporting the wellbeing and parenthood of female garment workers

Learn more about them here. In addition to a grant of USD 30,000 each, the winning teams get unique opportunities to immediately start piloting their innovations in selected partner factories. Six Bangladeshi factories have volunteered to provide time, space, and other resources for the winners to pilot their projects, and each team had the opportunity to find their best match through a unique digital matchmaking process where the innovators and factory owners jointly showed interest in developing business together.

The “STITCH for RMG Global Innovation Challenge” was a result of a global virtual conference, arranged by H&M Foundation and BRAC during the spring 2021 that brought together relevant stakeholders in the RMG sector to foster communication, collaboration and co-creation. The aim was to provide a broad understanding of the evolving needs and behaviours in the apparel industry in Bangladesh and beyond, and to catalyse cross-industry conversations on future-of-work related business innovations. The conference generated important insights on how to smoothen the transition in Bangladesh from an industry, human and gender perspective.

Many of the insights from the conference has influenced our long-term commitment in equipping women garment workers for the future, trough our a collaborative skilling pilot and by forecasting the future of the industry. In October 2022 we set up a larger the holistic collective impact initiative Oporajita to achieve systems change, by involving multiple partners working in a highly structured form of collaboration.

Project Specifics

  • Financial Support: 5.9 million SEK
  • Period: 20202022
  • Project Status: Current
  • Countries: Bangladesh
  • Focus Areas: Inclusive Societies
  • Partners: BRAC and The Asia Foundation