Aarong / BRAC from Bangladesh
is the artisan in the spotlight this week
When you're a woman living in rural Bangladesh, your employment options are limited. In 1978 Aarong-BRAC stepped up to fill that gap. With a mission to be the best in the world in providing a unique Bangladeshi lifestyle experience, to empower people, and to promote Bangladesh while protecting the environment, their very name means "village fair." From those humble beginnings, Aarong/BRAC has grown into an cooperative that supports more than 65,000 artisans in 13 production centers and 647 sub-centers throughout 2,000 villages in Bangladesh. Offering more than mere jobs, they offer a future, one with skills training, medical benefits, day care center, and retirement benefits.
Established 1992 in Narayongonj, Bangladesh as one of Aarrong's production centers, Minar Ind. is a full-range apparel center. They knit, dye, assemble, and print all of their apparel on site, and will soon begin spinning their own cotton thread. They currently employ approximately 2,000 high and semi-skilled workers and have been certified by the Business Social Compliance Initiative, highlighting their commitment to bettering the wellbeing of their workers.
Minar Ind. training includes not only machine operation skills, but also quality control, first aid, fire prevention, and machine maintenance. A full health check-up and AIDS prevention and awareness are included as part of the training. While working, artisans have the benefit of a doctor and assistant with first aid stations on every floor, where signs of illness are treated immediately and any necessary medicine provided. They also receive mandatory rest periods, access to fresh water, a dining room, a day care center, safety equipment such as masks, ear protection, gloves, and boots, and clean, safe, well-lit work spaces.
Minar Ind. hosts an annual picnic for all employees and a organizes a worker participatory committee comprised of a number of employees on each floor who meet to discuss worker demands, legal rights, and dues with the management on a regular basis.