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design and production development in Bangladesh

Report from a visit to Dhaka, June 2003

NATIONAL CRAFTS COUNCIL OF BANGLADESH National Crafts Council of Bangladesh (NCCB) contacted early in 2003 The Norwegian Embassy in Dhaka with plans for the publication of a book on the major textiles traditions of Bangladesh, tracing their evolution from the trade for royal courts and luxury European demand to fine products for the contemporary marketplace the presentation of an exhibition where it will be demonstrated how traditional artisans can interact with designers and craft developers to innovate and diversify their products the organisation of workshops to explore the importance of developing institutional support for handloom textiles so as to ensure a high-value market and to develop future strategies for the promotion of the handloom sector Design without Borders (DwB) was asked to see how our development program would be able to contribute in such a context. THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE JUTE INDUSTRY IN BANGLADESH Norad has been responsible for the project The Development of the Jute Industry in Bangladesh, most often called the Norad jute project. The original project period was 1999-2002, but the project was prolonged into 2003. Participants have been two large jute mills and four smaller craft producers: two craft businesses and two NGOes. The project has succeeded in making a thinner jute thread and a new, soft jute fabric that can be used for clothing as well as home furnishings. Norad has expressed an interest in suggestions from DwB as to the further development of the projects results. DESIGN AND PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT IN BANGLADESH Design without Borders needed more information about the above-mentioned projects, as well as about Bangladesh in general; in order to make feasible suggestions and to see which role DwB might play in the development of design in textile production in Bangladesh. Our focus was on (1) design and product development (textile crafts and jute fibre) (2) design education Both BNCC and the jute project focus on production for export. Design without Borders has not earlier been involved in export-oriented projects and accordingly do not have marketing and export expertise.

This report is written by Trine Thommessen, crafts.no, who spent the time from 24th of May to June 8th 2003 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Coming to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, in the end of May, it is not only hot, it is more than anything, deeply fascinating. The humid air, the flowering trees, the overwhelming traffic, the buildings, - tall office buildings as well as tin-plated dwellings, and everywhere there are people, mostly dressed in traditional lungis, saris and shalwar-kameezes, all adding to the fascination. My fascination grew deeper as I started on my talks with the elected leaders of the National Crafts Council of Bangladesh, the participants in Norads jute project, representatives from a couple of design institutions and other crafts or design organizations. All I have met have been most helpful and have also led me on to new contacts. I am very grateful for all the information I have been given. Should there be incorrect information in this report, this reflects on me and not on my sources. This report has textiles as its theme. Obviously, it offers no comprehensive description of the overall situation for Bangladeshi textiles and textile production. That would not be possible after a two-week visit. There are certainly limitations to my knowledge. One important limitation is imposed by the programme profile of Design without Borders itself. Another limitation is the number of people I managed to talk to and the interests they were representing, and even if I managed to get hold of some interesting literature in Dhaka, I do not contend that this literature is covering the entire field. After defining some of the terms used in the report, chapter 4 gives a short introduction to Bangladesh in order to give the Norwegian reader a little background information. Chapter 5 gives an overview of the textile and clothing industry, its importance to the Bangladeshi economy and the challenges it will meet after 2004. This chapter also covers the locally grown fibre, jute. Chapter 6 on the crafts businesses and NGOes gives an introduction to Bangladeshi textile crafts as well as a description of the handloom industry. In Chapter 7 on product design I try to describe some of the particular challenges of working with textile design in Bangladeshi, and also present a number of design models. Lastly, this chapter discusses the different markets available to Bangladeshi textiles. Design education is covered in chapter 8 while chapter 9 concentrates on suggestions for future involvement in the area of textile design and product development by Norwegian donors in Bangladesh. Chapter 10 presents the summary of the report. Naturally, one cannot write a report on design development without running into dilemmas. The basic one is formulated by Jackie Corlett, woven textile designer, in her MA Thesis: Developing design skills would be wasted if used only to design new products for the richer nationsThere are however a host of problems local to these designers that are in desperate need of design attention: waste disposal; educational equipment and toys; shelter; construction work; hospital equipment; work environments; etc. Hopefully we can contribute in a way that eventually will make Bangladeshi designers able to cope with this host of problems. 3

DESIGN The word design has many meanings, one is giving form, another emphasizes construction and yet another, product development. In Bangladesh I often had the feeling that we used the word in different ways. My way of speaking about design is process and production oriented, while I think that some of my contacts used the word in the simpler sense of giving an object form. PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT As the word design is often used in the limited sense of giving form, I have chosen to also use the term product development in order to cover a wider scope of the design process. Norad, the Norwegian Development Agency, also uses both design and product development in their policy documents, so the use of the words in this report should then be consistent with this practice. CLOTHING INDUSTRY OR GARMENT INDUSTRY? Professor Sadequel Islam, Professor of Economics in Ontario, Canada, uses the term the clothing industry in his book about The Textile and Clothing Industry of Bangladesh in a Changing World Economy while for instance the BGMEA, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers Export Association, talks of the garment industry. I have used clothing and garment as synonyms. SME OR CRAFT PRODUCER The SME Department in the World Bank Group is currently working with the following definitions: Micro enterprise - Up to 10 employees, total assets of up to $100,000 and total annual sales of up to $100,000 Small enterprise - Up to 50 employees, total assets of up to $3 million and total sales of up to $3 million Medium enterprise - Up to 300 employees, total assets of up to $15 million, and total annual sales of up to $15 million1 The Bangladeshi Small and Cottage Industry Corporation, the BSCIC, talks about the small and cottage industries sector. Small industries are defined as those engaged in manufacturing or processing or service activities whose total fixed investment is limited to Taka 30 million (US$ 0.75 million), while cottage industries are those engaged in manufacturing or servicing and generally run by family members with a total investment limited to Taka 0.5 million (US$ 12,500) only. I have, however, avoided the term SME, and even small and cottage, as I find the terms bewildering. Instead I am talking about crafts producers, including both crafts businesses and NGOes in the term.

Http://www.ifc.org/sme/html/sme_definitions.html June 18th 2003

Bangladesh is a poor, agricultural society with 130 million inhabitants on 144 000 sq. km. With app. 900 people per sq. km, the country is the most densely populated country in the world. The majority of the people are Bengali (98%), some 250 000 are Bihari and around one million are different tribal people. 88 % of the population are Muslim, 11 % Hindu, and 1 % have other religions. The Peoples Republic of Bangladesh is headed by President Professor Dr. Iajuddin Ahmed. The present government is run by the BNP whose Prime Minister is Begum Khaleda Zia. The Awami League is the largest opposition party. The average age of living is 58 years for men and 59 years for women. 49 % of the adult men are illiterate as compared to 71 % of the adult women. 2 Bangla is the local language. Educated people also speak English, but taxi drivers i.e. often do not. The unit of currency is the Taka. The country is mostly flat farmland divided by numerous rivers, the main ones being the delta of Ganges and Bramaputra, called the Padma and the Jamuna in Bangla. For Bangladesh, annual flooding is a way of life. Much of the flooding is regarded by farmers as beneficial, replenishing the worn soils with nutrients. The principal crops are rice, jute, tobacco, tea, sugarcane and vegetables. About 10% of the country is still forested. There are two hilly areas, one in the northeast and one in the southeast. Most of the tribal people live in these areas. Preserving the environment is not as much a priority as human survival in Bangladesh. About half the population is living below the poverty line and most of them are extremely poor. In spite of the relatively high economical growth in the 90ies the reduction in poverty has only been 1 % per year. The gap between the poor and the wealthy sections of the population is increasing. The most important industries are jute manufactures, ready-made garments, cotton textiles, seafood processing, and pharmaceuticals.3 The most important trade partners are EU, USA, Hong Kong, Japan, India, China and Singapore. The seaports of Chittagong and Mongla are instrumental for exports as are the airports in Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet. Norway has been providing development assistance for Bangladesh since the country seceded from Pakistan in 1971. Since 1975, Bangladesh has been one of the main recipients of Norwegian development assistance and is now one of seven main partner countries. Norway focuses its efforts on education, economic development, improved governance and human rights. Despite sustained domestic and international efforts to improve economic and demographic prospects, Bangladesh remains a poor, overpopulated, and ill-governed nation. It is one of the so-called least developed countries. Major impediments to growth include frequent cyclone and floods, inefficient state-owned enterprises, inadequate port facilities, a rapidly growing labour force that cannot be absorbed by agriculture, delays in exploiting energy resources (natural gas), insufficient power supplies, and slow implementation of economic reforms. Economic reform is stalled in many instances by political infighting and corruption at all levels of government.4

2 3 4

World Development Report 2000/2001, quoted from http://www.nrk.no/kanal/undervisning/bangla/ June 16th 2003 http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+bd0008) June 18th 2003 http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/bg.html#Econ June 16th 2003


International trade involving textiles and clothing represent a classic example of managed trade. During the 1974-94 period, international trade in textiles and clothing were negotiated bilaterally and governed by the rules of the Multifibre Agreement (MFA). On January 1, 1995, the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC) replaced the MFA and became part of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreements. The ATC provides for the complete integration of textiles and clothing into the WTO regime over a 10-year period ending on January 1, 2005. Quotas will be eliminated at the same time. World trade in textiles normally divides the products into three separate categories: Textile fibre - natural fibres - cellulosic fibres - synthetic or non-cellulosic fibres Yarn, fabrics and made-up articles Apparel International trade in textiles and clothing has changed substantially the last twenty-five years. Developed countries are increasingly relying on developing countries for exporting clothing.5 Textile production is relatively capital intensive while apparel production is relatively labour intensive. Bangladesh, being a labour-abundant country, started the process if industrialisation by concentrating on labour-intensive products such as clothing. Textiles and clothing account for about 85 % of total export earnings of Bangladesh, the clothing industry alone employing 180 000 managers and 1,5 million workers, of whom 1,2 million are women. 6 The country has become a significant exporter of clothing within a short period of time. The important question is whether Bangladesh will be able to maintain or improve its competitive position in clothing after the 10-year transition period of the world trade agreement, which comes to an end in 2005. In a liberalised trade regime, competition among textiles and clothing exporting countries is likely to become intense. Implementation of the comprehensive world trade agreement involves: abolition of quotas under the multifibre arrangement (MFA) reduction of tariffs on textiles and clothing of 21 % for industrial countries and 14 % for developing countries reduction of agricultural output subsidies by 20 % and export subsidies by 36 %

Most of the information in this chapter is from Sadequel Islam: The Textile and Clothing Industry if Bangladesh in a Changing
Brochure from the BGMEA Institute of fashion & Technology

World Economy, Dhaka 2001


The impact of the world trade agreement is predicted to be growth of output of textiles to be negative in developed countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the European Union, North America, and also in Latin America. Output of textiles, in contrast, will grow substantially in Asean, China, the NIEs, South Asia and modestly in Japan. For a developing country such as Bangladesh, low relative labour costs may not be sufficient for improving the competitive position of the clothing industry. Greater competition from China and India, which both have a well-integrated textiles and clothing industry and even lower labour costs than Bangladesh, can be expected. Productivity in apparel and other sub-sectors of Bangladesh are substantially lower than that in other developing countries, including India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It also appears that this productivity gap has widened. Professor S. Islam suggests in his book The Textile and Clothing Industry of Bangladesh in a Changing World Economy that the demand for South Asian clothing is quite sensitive to price changes. This is consistent with the fact that South Asian countries typically export standardised low-value-added apparel products. Low labour productivity in Bangladesh may be responsible for the relatively high unit labour costs compared to the major competitors. In countries were the share of wages is quite high, the apparel industries are concentrating on high-value-added products. The clothing industry often produces in the way of production-sharing. The garments are for instance cut in one country and assembled in another. This trend may well be changing. Fully vertically integrated manufacturing seems to be a growing trend, meaning that the production of thread and yarn, fabrics, cutting and sewing the apparel is done in one place. This can be seen in Mexico i.e., due to the need of increasing the competitiveness relative to Asian competitors who all want a part of the large US market. The European Union (EU) is the leading market for apparel, with a share of world apparel imports of 42 % in 1997. The EU imposes no quotas on textiles and clothing from least developed countries including Bangladesh. Textiles and clothing from the least developed countries also enter the EU duty free. Bangladesh relies heavily on the European Union and the United States for exporting clothing. Japan is the third largest market for textiles and clothing after the European Union and the United States. In recent years Japanese textile companies have increased investments in Asian countries such as China and Vietnam. The market share for Bangladesh in Japans apparel imports was only .6 % in 1997. During the last decade or so, Bangladesh has substantially liberalised its trade regime, moving away from costly protectionist policy toward a more export-friendly trade regime. The current industrial policy have identified the textile and clothing sector as one of the thrust sectors in the country. The experiences of textiles and clothing producing countries seem to suggest that a labour-abundant country, which is in an early stage of industrial development, is likely to specialise in only one component, as for instance clothing. As the country moves into higher stages of development, it acquires the capacity to develop other components such as yearns, fabrics, synthetic fibres, chemicals, textile machinery. 8

Recent years have seen concerns being raised about the viability of the clothing sector in Bangladesh, due to the heavy dependence on imported outputs. Export-oriented sectors such as clothing have little linkages with domestic-marketoriented sectors as for instance the handloom industry. It had been argued that Bangladesh may loose its competitive position relative to other South Asian and East Asian countries in a liberalised trade environment because the clothing sector of Bangladesh lacks backwards linkages (UNCTAD 1998). Sadequel Islam concludes in his book The Textile and Clothing Industry of Bangladesh in a Changing World Economy that positive development is only possible if trade and industrial policy instruments must be coherent and consistent with the stage of industrial development, shifts from assembly-type operations to exports of high value added products require development of a well-integrated textiles and clothing industry, and the system loss due to corruption and government failures in implementation of policy instruments needs to be reduced, in order for government policy to become credible. The future for Bangladeshi textile production lies in high-value-added production. High-value-added production requires a host of highly qualified, internationally oriented designers.

JUTE Jute is the major textile fibre growing in Bangladesh. During the British colonial time, jute was taking over where earlier a very fine cotton had grown, used for the famous Dacca muslin. Nowadays, the production of cotton and silk is much smaller than the demand and most often these fibres have to be imported. India is the worlds largest producer of jute and also its leading consumer of jute. Bangladesh is the only other major producer of jute. Bangladeshi jute is supposed to hold a high quality. Jute has, however, a low price image in the local market In Bangladesh, 70 % of the population is working in the agricultural sector. 25 % of the population is directly affected by jute production and many more on the industry. Jute provides a necessary break between rice crops and helps to enrich the soil. It also provides a vital cash flow for people who live at the very margins of subsistence.7

The jute industry is a so-called sunset industry. Synthetic substitutes play a great role in the downfall of the jute industry, as many of the earlier jute products, i.e. packaging and carpets, now have been substituted by synthetics.

Most of the information on jute is taken from Vinay Chands report for Norad.

The entire jute industry in Bangladesh is loosing money, my sources said. The government-owned mills are losing the most. Investment is available with great reluctance. Pubali Jute Mills Ltd. has reduced its losses the past year thanks to a product being developed in the wake of the jute project, - a gardening product using jute wraps to shield the roots of plants during transport. Jute is now also used in paper production. Chands report states that there are positive signs in export markets for food grade sacks that do not use machine oil during processing natural fibre geotextiles garden products all jute carpets

Jute qualities There are now four qualities of jute products: Traditional jute This sack like weave still provides the backbone of the jute industry, being used for shopping bags and packaging, webbing, substrates, barrier fabrics, tarpaulin, reinforcement, belts, canvas, carpet backing cloth and Hessian. This quality is also suitable for geotextiles. Finer weave The finer weave is today the minimum threshold for consumer products, being used for soft luggage, industrial fabrics and as substrates. Mixed Fibres In 1992 UNDP launched a Jute Development Programme in India in order to search for and develop diversified, high value added jute-based products and then to encourage entrepreneurs to commercialise results through an incentive credit facility. This project managed to achieve production of blended yarns where jute was mixed with cotton, linen, ramie, viscose and polyester in union blends. The Jute Research Council in Bangladesh has produced a blended 60 % cotton/40 % jute yarn that has successfully been used in a variety of handloom fabrics from the craft business Prabartana. The new jute, the so-called Bengal Linen The new fabric uses a lighter yarn compared to anything previously available in the market. This lighter yarn is based on the highest quality jute fibres available in Bangladesh. A series of treatments, mainly based on chemicals, result in a softer and smoother fabric. The treatment overcomes problems associated with jute fabrics as shedding, hairiness and stiffness. However, the new fabric still suffers from 10

weak rub and light fastness. Bleaching helps, but does not prevent fading. Dyeing delays it. The natural colour is most vulnerable to fading.

The Norad Project The Development of the Jute Industry in Bangladesh The participants in the Norad jute project were 2 mills, Sonali and Pubali, and four craft producers: two craft businesses, Esheeta and Swajan Crafts, and two NGOes, Concern and CORR - The Jute Works. The NGOes have been working with women in rural areas, giving them the opportunity of a cash income. Working solely with the private sector is not the usual donor practise. The project has also been exceptional in the mixing of the large production plants with small crafts producers, giving the crafts producers the chance to demonstrate the versatility of a new and, until now, unknown soft jute fabric. The project has succeeded in producing a new, soft jute fabric in light and heavy weights and in different colours, lately also with prints. The market focus has been home furnishings and all the participating craft businesses have made cushion covers. One NGO has also produced tassels. The fabric and the home furnishing products have been presented every year, starting 2001, at the Heimtextil fair in Frankfurt, Germany. The crafts producers claim they have had success with the jute products on the western market. Also a greater quality consciousness has grown out of working with niche products for an upper-grade market. The Dutch design company LA Colours worked as consultants in the projects first years. The project participants grant much of the honour for their success to the Dutch designers. The fact that the project was not planned in detail, allowing for development and changes during the project period, is also mentioned as a positive experience. Thirdly, the length of the project period is seen as positive. Getting started in a serious manner took a long time, says one of the mills. The interior decoration market is a much smaller and specialist fashion driven market than the textile market. The markets that can be targeted by the fabric itself are ten times bigger than those than can be targeted for the treated fabric. Chands report states that the ideal growth pattern for the jute industry is to supply large buyers with industrial products. The need for diversification of the jute production in order to obtain greater volume, will have to be one of the conditions for potential product development projects.

The Jute Mills Two jute mills have taken part in Norads jute project, Sonali and Pubali. According to Chand, they are both known for their forward looking strategy. Sonali is the largest enterprise with one of the largest spinning capacities in the country, having 1500-2000 employees producing 13 tons per day.


As is often the case in Bangladesh, the owners of the jute mills are pointing out as a positive factor that the jute production is very labour intensive. The jute is travelling through a number of middlemen and markets on the way from the farmer to the mill.

The Jute Research Institute The Jute Research Institute is a government body and is, as such, heavily criticized for inefficiency and lack of overall perspective. The jute mills do, however, mention a study trip to France arranged by the Jute Research Institute as very useful. Prabartana (one of the small craft businesses) has been able to get hold of blended jute/cotton thread from the Jute Research Institute. The next journey to Bangladesh should include a visit to the Jute Research Institute.

Product development Both the jute mills have positive experiences with the product development processes that were part of the Norad jute project. It was new for Sonali to work with consumer-oriented products. Now they are producing a lot of Espadrillo-type shoes and also handbags. Working with dobby looms was also new to Sonali. Mr. Patwari says that they often gave up, but that the designers never gave them up, always demanding a thorough explanation of a problem. The designers would then try to find solutions and return with suggestions as to how the problems could be solved. The designers would come several times a year, each time staying several weeks, coming to the jute mill one day a week. This way of working made progress possible The mills emphasize the need of continuing product development, but in a manner that minimizes the risk. The jute mills still need training in product development Sonali First of all, Sonali wants to rationalise the production process of the fabric, but is finding financing difficult. Fire resistance is mentioned as a necessary development of the fabric. Secondly, but closely connected to the production of the fabric, is the desire to develop a soft jute thread. Now the fabric is softened after it has been woven, - the thread is not yet soft. The soft thread would have an even greater market potential than the soft fabric. Sonali expresses eagerness to develop blended yarns. The entire field of gardening/landscaping where jute can be used as an environmentally sound product, is also very interesting. The concept of DTC, The Design and Technology Centre for Product Development, is seen as interesting. Internships in western companies are mentioned as a possible positive measure. Pubali Managing Director Kamran T. Rahman expresses a special interest in product development of non-woven textiles. Jute is also used in composites, replacing wood. Mr. Rahman thinks this has a future in the local market. 12

Bangladesh has an established place in the history of textile trade. In the capitals of the world the region was known for the high quality of its products, its unique designs and techniques of production. Especially the exquisitely fine cloth from Bengal, known as Dacca Muslin, was very highly prized. This cloth was so delicate that it could only be woven at dawn whilst the dew still hung on the threads, and the surest test of quality was that a full sari length (6 yards) could be pulled through a womans ring. Today textiles make out 60-70 % of the total crafts production in Bangladesh. The NCCB claims that crafts still employs the second largest segment of the population, after agriculture. It is therefore critical to the NCCB to undertake programmes, which will not only promote the fine traditional skills of the country, but also stem the flow of urban migration of millions of artisans in search of a livelihood. Some say that crafts could have been the breadbasket of Bangladesh. Others claim that crafts is another domestic commodity that developing countries can use to help balance their export / import books, just like coffee, jute or sugar, but that it unfortunately is not credited with the same level of investment. In the Bangladeshi society craft work and industrialisation seem to be co-existing quite happily. The divide between hand made and machine manufactured known from the times of the Industrial Revolution in the western world, does not appear to be taking place in Bangladesh, certainly not at a pace one might expect. Therefore it can be just as feasible, in terms of cost, to order a hand made chair to your specifications as it is to purchase a machine made one. Jackie Corlett writes that a possible reason for this is caste. Before Bengal was conquered by the Muslim Moghuls in the 13th Century, the indigenous religion had been predominantly Buddhism and Hinduism. Much of the Hindu culture remains, particularly in special celebrations and the strictures of the caste system. Many of the traditional, as opposed to the trained, craft workers are from Hindu families who have practised the same craft for generations. Most craft work tends to be a low caste activity, clay for example is of the earth and therefore not given a high status, similarly leather workers have a low status because they deal with shoes and the feet. Craft work is generally seen as a low status activity, albeit admired in its final results There is quite a number of crafts shops8 in Dhaka selling clothes, accessories, home furnishings, and to some extent, basketry, ceramics, candles, cards etc. A Norwegian, having lived in Bangladesh for six years, complained that there had been little innovation regarding the assortment in the shops during her stay. The crafts shops are selling mostly traditional Bangladeshi clothes and crafts, but many are also making new collections and new products, like the youth collections of Aarong and Prabartana mentioned in this report. One shop, The Salvation Armys Sally Ann, differed from the other crafts shops, selling a home furnishings production line with a western look. The shop Essentials, selling the Misty Waters jute/cotton/silk fabric collection, was run by some young Bangladeshis and had a westernised interior design profile. How representative this is, I do not know.

I visited Aranya, Aarong, Folk Bangladesh, Kumudini, Prabartana and Sally Ann. 13

CRAFT BUSINESS OR NGO? Most crafts businesses are just that crafts businesses, but the picture in Bangladesh is a little more confusing, as many NGOes also produce and sell crafts as part of their activity. The NGOes focus mostly on rural development, assisting low-income craft producers, most often women, through crafts development and marketing. Most NGOes in the crafts sector are working with poor and unskilled women. The crafts business part of the NGOes is sometimes a separate legal entity being able to put the obtained surplus back into the crafts business. There are, however, also NGOes where the surplus from the crafts business is used to finance other activities, i.e. health services. Many of the businesses and NGOes that I visited in Dhaka, have 30-40 persons employed while giving work to 3004500 craftspeople, but I have to add that there are so many working in this field that these numbers may not be representative. Aarong is by far the largest crafts businesses, giving work to around 30 000 craftspeople in all of Bangladesh. Besides visiting Aarong, I also talked to the directors of crafts businesses Aranya, Esheeta, Prabartana and Swajan Crafts in addition to the NGOes Concern and CORR the jute works. Also I went to see the crafts trade organisation Banglacraft.

SKILLS On the one hand the skills in textile crafts, i.e. the embroidery skills demonstrated in finished products, are quite impressive, on the other hand are many of the craftspeople initially unskilled, taking a lot of training to produce the necessary quality. The labour is cheap, but, accordingly, largely unskilled. Some of the crafts businesses try, however, to find workers with at least basic skills in reading and numbers. One particular aspect of working with unskilled labour, is that it is often difficult to make people do something that they are not used to. Many are illiterates used to doing routine work. There are many and varied textile skills in Bangladesh. I have concentrated on getting to know the techniques selected by the NCCB for the exhibition planned for October 2003. The other techniques mentioned, I have come to know during my stay. Dyeing As synthetic dyes have to be imported, it is worth noting that at least one company, Aranya, is working with natural dyes. Weaving Naturally there is a lot of impressive woven fabrics, mostly saris, especially impressive considering the technology used. The thin, transparent Jamdani saris with their distinct decorative patterns, seem to hold an especially high status in the Bengali society. Being the work of two people in one month, the price for a Jamdani sari lies well above the ordinary level of textiles. Also the brocaded borders of many saris are elaborate and exclusive. Most of the hand-woven fabrics, however, are woven in simple, plain weave, like i.e. the lungi, a sort of skirt worn by the men. 14

Printing and tie-die It seems to me that block print is still the major printing technique, using handheld blocks. I have also seen some examples of wax printing and freehand batik, with wax covering part of the fabric stopping the dyestuff from entering into the fabric. Tie-die is also available, sometimes combined with wax print in the same product. Embroidery There are many examples of time consuming embroidered decorations on clothes and home furnishings. The Kantha embroidery technique, a simple stitch, is used for all kinds of products, from tea cosies to cushion covers. Originally Kantha embroidery was made in the homes, sewing layers of worn out clothing together to a quilt with a characteristic rippled surface. The women would compose their own Nakshi Kanthas. This embroidery technique has a long past in which it developed as a way of recording stories and events using needle and thread in a spontaneous style. Now, Kantha embroidery products are made on a commercial level, being designed by professionals. The stitching technique and the designs do not hold the same quality as in the old Nakshi Kanthas. However, a number of embroidery techniques are being used, including application and mirror work. Sewing Sewing is the common denominator of all the textile crafts products, except for the saris. Also in this field, the lack of basic skills can be problematic. I was told that the tailors were good at making traditional regional clothing, but that sewing westernised clothes were more difficult, as few were able to take correct measurements and shape patterns accordingly.

Products Textile crafts products in Bangladesh are versatile and can be divided into three main categories: Fashion This includes all kinds of clothing, but, because of the tropical and subtropical climate, what we would think of as summer clothes. The traditional saris and shalwar-kameezes for the women and the long shirts for the men, are being supplemented by international style clothes as shirts, jackets and kimonos as well as fusion clothes, often preferred by younger people. As far as I can see, the Bangladeshi are doing well at supplying clothes to the local market and possibly have a market in the entire subcontinent where saris and/or shalwar-kameezes are worn in all countries. The clothes that are made for a western or international market, however, are not the kind of high-value-added items directed at niche markets that will be needed for exports. The need for western or international design input is quite obvious, probably more in the cut of the clothes than in the weaving or decoration.


Fashion accessories Scarves are an important part of womens clothing in Bangladesh, always being used with the trousers and long blouse of the Shalwar-Kameez. Large scarves, called throws, are used to cover up in the so called winter. Hand bags is also a large product category. Home furnishings All kinds of bedspreads, table cloths, curtains and cushion covers are seen in the crafts shops, as well as almost any kind of imaginable textile product for the home. In order to appeal to a western or international market, there is a need of product development, especially regarding materials, colours and sewing. The Production Process The production process in the crafts sector in Bangladesh is different than the one known in western machine or hand production. There are many elements, each maybe involving new people and separate financing. The dyer is not the weaver, the weaver may not be the one preparing the warp, the printer is yet another person etc. The complexity of the production process is a challenge, both as far as planning production, getting the desired quality in the end product, and getting the desired quality on time. Most crafts businesses and NGOes try to establish work centres to avoid working at home. Home work increases the risk of soiling fabrics, making them unfit for sale. This is one example of the elements in a production process: Buying yarn Dying yarn (quality control) Supplying yarn to the weaver Instructing the weaver Weaving the fabric (quality control) Treating the fabric Decorating the fabric with block print/tie die/wax print/embroidery (quality control) Sewing the finished product (quality control)


In this example, quality control is being executed four times. That is what Aarong, for instance, is doing with their products. The designer in the crafts sector will have to be prepared to take part in the entire production process, producing samples that can be shown a customer. Even when the order is placed the designers input in the process is not over. Very often the designer will be the one to take the order to the craft producer, often in a remote area, and may also assist with the purchase of raw materials. Whilst production is underway the designer will make the occasional supervisory trip, and then also be involved with quality control before the order is packed and shipped off.

EXPORT The total crafts export is estimated to 34-35 mil. Taka per year (Banglacraft). Some craft businesses work 100% for the export market. Most likely the majority would like to have a 70/30 percentage with exports making out 30%. This is certainly the case for Aranya, whose director Ruby Ghuznavi, claims that 1-2 export orders per year would suffice. She then calculates with 3 months delivery time. Other countries in the region, like India and Thailand, have achieved great success in promoting their textiles worldwide. They have done so by developing institutions for design and technical support, matched by well documented publications and promotional exhibitions within their countries and abroad. The Export Promotion Bureau is supposed to be promoting Bangladeshi products to the world markets

The Export Promotion Bureau The Export Promotion Bureaus is a governmental institution, giving priority to a number of activities, some mentioned here9: Simplifying export procedures, and helping the private sector achieve efficiency. The Govt..desires more and more involvement of the private sector while the govt. will continue to play its facilitating role Enhancing technological strength and productivity and facilitating reduce cost and attain internationally accepted standard of quality of exportable products and thereby consolidate their competitiveness Participation in the international trade fairs, specialized fairs, single country exhibitions abroad and also sending out trade missions, with a view to consolidating our position in the existing market and creating new markets; Organizing regularly international trade fairs and product-specific fairs with the country Making appropriate development and expansion of infrastructure conducive to export Making arrangements for necessary technical and practical training for development of skilled manpower in the export sector Ensuring maximum utilization of financial and other assistance extended by the World Trade Organization to the Least Developed Countries

http://www.epbbd.com/ExportPolicy.html June 22nd 2003 17

Extending technical and marketing assistance for development of new products and for finding appropriate marketing strategies The Export Promotion Bureau is being widely critisized for making exporting more difficult that actually helping the craft businesses. The EPB do take the businesses to tradeshows, though, and even if the there is very little exposure space for each participant, the participation is subsidized and can be made useful.

Trade shows or agents? The participants in the Norad jute project have taken part in the Heimtextil fair in Frankfurt several years, and will continue doing so. The jute products are niche products needing to be exposed in exhibition halls with other high quality products, not in a 3. world-context. The jute project participants have succeeded in getting a good exposition position at Heimtextil. Aranya has also taken part in international trade fairs with good results, but ms Ghuznavi finds the cost of participating very high and would rather have an agent connecting Aranya to the buyers. So does Prabartana. Esheeta, on the other hand, does not want an agent because ms Dewan does not want anyone to become sole agent. Even so, it is obvious that agents would bridge the gap between Bangladeshi producers and the international market, providing the missing link in the producers way to new and unknown markets. In the report on the Norad jute project, mr Chand suggests that the buyers should rather be attracted to the sellers through the internet, editorial publicity and a few well placed advertisements, than spend a lot of money on participating in trade shows.

THE HANDLOOM INDUSTRY Most of, or maybe all, the fabric used by the crafts businesses and the NGOes involved in crafts production are handwoven. The handloom industry10 has long been the premier source of employment in Bangladesh outside of agriculture. At least up to the mid-1970s, from time immemorial, the handloom industry has been the predominant source of clothing for the majority of the people. Even today it is said that the handloom industry supplies 77 % of the textiles for the local market. Nearly one million people are directly employed in production activity, and also a large number of people are indirectly employed in yarn and cloth trade linked with handlooms. The position of the handloom industry in Bangladesh is unique, because a much larger share of the total production is still being provided by informal handlooms than by the organized mill and power-loom industries.


Most of the information on the handloom industry is taken from Muhammad Abdul Latif: Handloom Industry of Bangladesh 1947-



Materials Bangladesh has remained a net importer of yarn at least since 1947. Almost all yarns are imported, warp silk from China, cotton from China and India. Some local silk and cotton can be used for weft. Jute, which is locally grown and an important agricultural crop, has a lot of potential, especially the softer material developed in the Norad project as well as blends. The Jute Research Institute has made an interesting 40 %jute/60 % cotton yarn. Jute/silk experiments silk warp and jute weft - have also been conducted, showing that a softer jute yarn is needed. One textile designer claims that Interesting yearns are made only for exports. Thin yarns for the handloom industry are machine spun. Hand spun cotton is used in the fabric called khaki, a thicker cotton quality. Linen also has to be imported and is too expensive to be used in any quantity. Synthetic dyes are imported. Natural dyes, except madder, which has to be imported, are grown locally. Some international designers using the Pantone colour system face problems, because they do not take the availability of dyes and the working process of the dyers into consideration.

Technology It is believed that one of the major drawbacks in the Bangladesh handloom industry has been a low level of technical development, which is reflected in the low productivity in the industry.

The Waist Loom The Waist Loom is used by the Hill Tribes only, producing characteristic tribal textiles.

Pit looms and frame looms The Throw-shuttle Loom This very simple pit loom is used for Jamdani and Bonsai saris, being operated by two persons: One throwing the shuttle, and the other receiving the shuttle and throwing it back. This type of loom can also be operated by one weaver, depending on the width of the weave. The Fly-shuttle Loom Most of the fly-shuttle looms in Bangladesh are pit looms, even if frame looms are also available (but more expensive). The fly-shuttle pit loom is the most extensively used handloom in Bangladesh for producing a range of fabrics from superfine to common utility varieties. It can be operated by one person. The main products are sari, lungi, dhoti (scarf), table cloth etc. The superfine Tangail sari is woven on this loom.

The Chittaranjan Loom, also called The Semi-automatic Loom 19

The Chittaranjan loom is made completely of seasoned timber, and the construction is almost like a fly-shuttle frame loom with the added feature of long length cloth winding devices and an iron wheel attachment. The former mechanism facilitates the use of long warp, usually 500-600 metres, and the latter expedites the battening as well as the shuttle throwing operations. The jacquard attachment in this loom is more comfortable than in the pit frame-shuttle loom, as it is controlled by the wheel.

Huttersley Pedal Loom This loom is made completely of steel and iron castings. The improvement of this loom over the Chittaranjan loom is that shuttle throwing, battening and shaft propulsion are done on this loom under the power of a wheel operated by pedalling, which synchronizes all the movements. The limitation of the Huttersley Pedal Loom is that the exertion demanded of the operator is very great. This loom can be easily converted into power-loom by using an electric motor. Due to the expansion of electrification in the 1980es in the areas where this loom was being operated, almost all such looms have been converted into power-looms and no longer can be regarded as handlooms. Capacity Normally a pit loom weaver can make 4 yards a day. It is possible to make a sari a day, that is 6 yards, on a fly-shuttle loom. On a Chittaranjan the daily output can be up to 18 yards, equalling three saris a day.

Organizational Structure According to Latif, the weavers can be classified into four categories: Independent weavers This group of weavers is characterized by the ownership of both fixed (looms) and working capital (cash). However, most of the weavers have to borrow to finance their trade and are thus dependent on the fanciers, mostly yarn traders. This group is sometimes called self-employed weavers. Dadan Weavers The dadan weavers are also characterized by the ownership of looms and accessories, and have their own establishments, but they do not have working capital. They produce goods for their mohajan known as the dadan master, with the raw materials supplied by him. Dyed yarns are usually supplied by the mohajan to the weaver on a weekly basis to produce cloth of a prescribed pattern. At the end of the week, the weaver hands over the woven cloth and receives payment on a piece-rate basis, and gets fresh supplies of yarn for the coming weeks weaving. Master weavers 20

The present day master weaver does not have to know weaving or come from the weaving community, he is simply a merchant. There are two types of master weavers: the first type owns the production establishments and mainly employs outside labourers. The other type does not own any production n equipment and is a true merchant, being known as dadan masters or mojohans, as described above. Workers or karigar weavers These weavers are simply the workers employed on a wage basis. They possess neither the looms and the accessories nor the working capital. This class of weavers is said to come mainly from the landless agricultural class and the dadan weavers. It is important to understand that weaving is considered easy work, probably because it is compared to agricultural work and rickshaw-cycling.

Competition in the local market The mill industry can influence the hand-weaving industry in two ways. It can affect the decentralized handloom industry favourably by concentrating on spinning and supplying yarn. On the other hand, large-scale mills can adversely affect the demand for traditional handlooms by expanding their supplies of cloth to the market. The small-scale powerloom industry as well as the import of cloth also play a competitive role with the handloom industry. The smuggling of fabrics from India in addition offers competition.

Export potential Grameen Uddug has done a great deal to develop the handloom industry for export, concentrating on the so called Grameen check fabric. The Grameen Uddog deals with 100 000 weavers, also being able to meet their credit needs, to provide an institutional infrastructure to buy yarn in bulk, have it processed, enforce quality control and marketing the fabric to the RMG industry as well as exporting it.11 Mr. Latif suggests that it is possible to build forward linkages from the handloom industry to the Readymade Garment (RMG)/Clothing industry, strengthening the export potential of both industries.


Rehman Sobhan in Muhammad Abdul Latif: Handloom Industry of Bangladesh 1947-90


Product development makes sense only where there is a defined marketing strategy based on sound market research, says Viand Chand. This may be so. On the other hand, market research can only answer to the known needs and wishes and has to be combined with innovative product development. Innovative product development based on solid market knowledge, is the job of designers. The general problem in Bangladeshi textile production is the small numbers of available designers. It is difficult to know how many there are, as there is no designer organisation with a membership list indicating the numbers. The lack of designers also mean that whenever a designer, trained in-house, move on, there is no one of equal ability to step into the vacancy. There are very few designers in the garment industry or in crafts with a degree in design. The ones that do have a design education are educated abroad, - many in India and some in the West. Some of the designers working in the craft businesses have an education from Dhaka Institute of Fine Arts. Although this educational background in combination with experience from the craft businesses, in many cases seem to work well, some say that a lot of people in the trade do not understand the difference between an artist and a designer, Design is planning step by step and the artists do not know how to do that. Others say that the creativity exists, but that the understanding of the market is lacking. One of the first classes Jackie Corlett taught in her workshops in Bangladesh in the early 90ies, tackled the similarities and differences between artists and designers. It drew some very enlightening responses, she says. Some very clearly thought design activity was some lower form of artistic life, notably those with MFAs, others could not see any difference at all at first. It was important to establish that it was not qualifications that made a designer but rather a certain outlook on life, and attitude to learning. It seems to me that there are more fashion designers than other kinds of designers, this also being reflected in the educational system. I heard of only two product designers and both were from other countries (Germany and Australia). The level of graphic design is supposed to be comparable to the 60ies and 70ies in the Western world.

PRODUCTION It is important to understand that the Bangladeshis, both in the large mills and in the small crafts businesses, put a lot of emphasis on labour-intensive production. There is no social security system taking care of the unemployed.

Technology The general level of technology in one of the least-developed countries, is naturally very different from the level of technology in a developed country like Norway. The simplicity of the available technology is obvious in the handloom 22

industry. The jute mills say that they can often use old European machinery, i.e. has Sonali bought old flax machines from France. The mills have to use machines made for other raw materials than jute as there is no jute machinery being produced, anyway. The DTC, the Design and Technology Centre, claims that some government institutions do have jacquard looms and computers, but that they do not know how to utilize the equipment.

Quality The topic of quality is regarded as a very important, and quite difficult one, by all my contacts in Bangladesh. The distance between the rural women and the market is tremendous, and the comprehension of the term quality is not consistent. How can a poor rural woman comprehend the life style of well-off Westerners or the urban middle class in Bangladesh? All the businesses and NGOes that I have spoken to, work very hard securing quality. Quality control is entered into the production process at different intervals. These major challenges are described by some of my contacts: The quality of the fabric itself, regarding i.e. colourfastness etc The quality of the work, i.e. the sewing The understanding of sizes in general and also the need for all the products in a production line to be of the same size. One of the companies commented that the buyers always want all products to be just the same as to colour and size, but that this, however, is not always important to the consumer, who is only going to buy one piece, anyway. The delivery to the buyers - Delivery can often be a problem, as there is a certain unpredictability in the service of the Bangladeshi shipping harbours. ISO certification is not being seen as important to the small crafts businesses. This may, however, be different in the larger industries.

CREATIVITY Many of my informants touched upon the question of creativity, saying that it is a great problem in the Bangladeshi society that the school system does not stimulate to creativity. The children and students are taught to repeat what they are told by the teachers, not to think themselves. There is no arts or crafts being taught in the public schools. Teaching at the new design oriented institutions like the BIFT (see chapter 8), is a challenge because of the lack of creativity exposed by the students when they start their studies. 23

One designer said that the true creativity in the Bangladeshi society is to be seen by the very poor, who would not survive if they were not able to develop creative survival strategies.

DESIGN The tasks that should be undertaken by companies using design effectively include responsibilities such as: Submitting considered schemes at a management level on how design can be integrated into the company's aims and objectives Thinking and planning strategically how design can be placed within the company's structure to ensure optimum interaction Recommending the use of design as a business resource to generate revenue and encourage cost reductions to benefit the company Assessing the risk factor in new design ventures and managing innovation Actively seeking appropriate opportunities to use designers' skills within the company Giving guidance to designers and others when necessary, on design practice in relation to the overall design strategy12 The list mentioned is not exhaustive but does show some of the crucial points which can be put to good effect in the context of businesses in countries like Bangladesh. Obviously however certain resources are required in order to encourage these kind of practices, most notably trained designers who are also able to manage design. This use of design as a resource in business is a long way off in Bangladesh. The consequence of a notable lack of formal design education in Bangladesh does not appear to preclude an ability to carry out job responsibilities. With an involvement of the designer at all stages of the production cycle there is a fuller understanding of the considerations necessary when actually designing a product in the initial stages. This is where designers in development situations can be in an advantageous position. Based on my own impressions, I have categorised different approaches to working with design in Bangladesh into a number of models:

The buyer model In The buyer model the buyer brings materials and designs, often including patterns, to the producer. The producers learn how to make one particular design, but do not learn anything about the market research and trend analysis that lie behind the design nor about the actual act of designing and the design management process.


Corlett, J Is there a design manager in the house?, MA, Middlesex University, London 95 24

In the clothing industry it is even often so that apparel assembled in one country has had parts cut to shape in another country. Even flat goods such as bed sheets, linen, scarves and handkerchiefs are not necessarily cut to size, hemmed and sewn, in the same country. Here the producer is seen as a machine. The entire design process is made elsewhere.

The Jute Project model Most of the participants in the Norad jute project especially mentioned the learning effect of the cooperation with the Dutch designers that were working on making a softer fabric as well as designing cushion covers etc. Naturally, they were also very pleased with the designs, having proved successful on an international market. This model is characterized by the designers branding each company within the common concept of making cushion covers, giving each company/NGO a distinct product profile regular visits by the designers, app. four times a year, keeping the development process going the external designers working in workshop-like settings with internal designers and craftspeople the local people becoming assignments between visits The Dutch group of designers were Anita Kars, Remco Kemper, Annyta Lollyta, Yvonne Laurysen and Wim Schermer. As the experience with this way of working seems to be very positive, I suggest that the next phase of this DwB project will include a more thorough look into this method.

The Private Initiative Model Naturally, there is also private initiative in Bangladesh seeking innovation. Mr. Shamim in Prabartana has collaborated with a British-born textile designer, Jackie Corlett, and an Indian textile design student, Namrata Jshas, in creating the fabric collection Misty Waters. Namrata Jshas did it at her last school project. All the three partners are getting 10 % royalties of sales and the fabrics are being promoted both by Jackie Corletts company Motif and by Prabartana. An ISO 9001 certificate has been issued. The fabrics are made of different combinations of jute, cotton, silk and metallic threads, being a real challenge for the weavers that took part in the project development. The textile designer worked with a weaver, sharing a loom. Prabartana is eager to export the Misty Waters Collection. Later, Prabartana engaged Namrata Jshas to design a collection of fusion clothes for young people. Mr. Shamim sees this as a good investment that was worth the 150 000 Taka he had to pay for 90 days of work. He believes that this collection will last a year.


Prabartana has, on its own initiative, developed handmade paper from the left over threads from the weavers warp. Mr. Shamim is interested in focusing on documentation and on the planning process in future design projects, and wants to learn to run his business according to the principles of design management. This model of self-sufficiency is a very good one, - in a sense, this is ideally how the companies should be able to work. The problem, however, is the scarcity of available designers and the need to strengthen the design knowledge on all levels of production. The process has just begun and needs to be continued.

The Jackie Corlett model The British-born textile designer Jackie Corlett made an introductory course, an in-training programme, called Discovering Design, when she was working for the NGO Heed in the early 90-ies. Jackie Corlett writes that the designers in Bangladesh were becoming Western designers by proxy. The majority of their work was simply a matter of interpreting what a buyer wanted into what a craft worker could make, ensuring that everyone was happy. This is still a very important concern in developing this training programme, but it is essential that designers gain confidence in their own innovative abilities. This is a much stronger resource to compete with, in the international market that most of these people are in, than being good interpreters. She has later, writing a Masters Thesis, developed a training program with this long-term aim: to provide well designed products for Bangladeshi export markets in order to keep up with the competition and become pro-active in those markets, as well as being able to seek new ones, by recognising both renewal and innovation in the design process to source local markets for these products, or adapt versions of them, in order to reduce reliance solely on export trade and to raise the quality and desirability of nationally made goods to use their design skills to impact problems in the designers own local environments and communities so as to raise awareness of the importance of design as an effective resource for problem solving The course consists of 24 classes. Jackie Corlett is using a lot of her course material in her teaching position at the BIFT. However, as far as I know, this course has never been implemented in the work place, as it was intented. I suggest that Jackie Corletts training model should be further investigated on the next phase of this DwB project.

The Training or Service Centre Model Knowing that the formal design education institutions will use a long time providing the much needed design competence, the idea of training or service centres has developed. The intention is that the producers here can buy shortterm services in order to strengthen their design and product development competence. The two existing/planned service centres in Dhaka are described in Chapter 8. 26

None of the craft businesses that I have talked to, are enthusiastic about the idea of a service centre, neither the existing DTC or the prospect of a new one as planned by ECOTA13 and Traidcraft. This lack of enthusiasm is most likely based on experience. The failure of the government-initiated Common Facility Centres, supposed to create helpful institutions for the handloom industry, is also not forgotten. The weakness of the training centre model is that the craftspeople are not easily included in the training. They rarely take part in this kind of activity. It is better that they are trained in the production process.

MARKETS Initially, all the people I talked to in Bangladesh, talked about exports, how important is to export and how they are lacking the necessary design competence to reach the export markets. During the prolonged talks, I realised that there are nuances in this approach. The importance of the local market, with its 130 million potential consumers, became clear. This does not mean, however, that export is of no importance. On the contrary, for the large mills the export market is crucial and even for the craft producers there is a wish for app 30 % of the production to be exported.

The Local Market The local market in Bangladesh is large, considering the countrys 130 million inhabitants. Even if many are poor and have little money to spend, there is a large and growing middleclass with spending power. The Western influence is obviously getting stronger in Bangladesh as in other countries. This year (2003) both Aarong and Prabartana have launched fashion collections for young people, selling colourful east-west fusion clothes. Aranya has been carrying a young range for a while. This trend, looking to the West for whats cool, will most probably continue in the coming years. The textile crafts certainly have a local market. Aarong, the largest crafts producer, has done market research showing that the rising middle class is buying clothes and presents at their shops. Also the Expats are well-to-do crafts consumers. The new jute fabric will probably have a local market in Bangladesh. Some say that the price so far is too high. If the craft producers of the Norad project decide to participate in the NCCB exhibition in the National Museum in October, it will be give some indication of the reception in the local market. Designers, of whatever level of training, who can work for a home market are undoubtedly at an advantage. The practice in trial and error is certainly of value and a lot less costly than if the market is an overseas one; the exposure to shifting

ECOTA is a fair trade network of NGOes, now opening up to crafts businesses also 27

trends allows a designer to develop a sense for the market and, in time, the ability to predict market trends and design with confidence to meet them. Therefore, Bangladeshi (or even Indian) designers are best suited for product development for the local market.

The Regional Market The regional market must be divided into two: 1. The Asia Pacific Region including Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Indonesia as well as the Asian Tigers and the Indian subcontinent 2. The subcontinent, consisting of Pakistan, India and Nepal, has the advantage of being a market with cultural similarities, i.e. in ways of dressing. Bangladesh can only compete with India when making products that are not made in India or making products of a better quality, some say. Designing for the subcontinent should be done by designers ingrained in the culture of the area. This is also true for the Asia Pacific Region, meaning that there is a need for special competence about, for instance, Australia or Japan. This market knowledge will currently have to be brought into Bangladesh from other countries.

The International Market The international trade of textiles is highly competitive. Skill, design and quality are essential. But, equally important is the need to assess national and international demand and integrate it into the production process. NCCB wants Bangladeshi crafts sold in the international markets, the main reason being that the local market cannot absorb all that is produced. Norad is planning an international market study as the next step after the jute project. Hopefully, this will be useful not only for the large jute mills, but also for the crafts producers using, or interested in using, jute in their production. There can be no doubt that very few of the Bangladeshi designers know the international markets. There is a unison cry in Bangladesh saying that they do need help from foreign designers to be able to make products that can be sold internationally. This is even more the case if the products are going to be developed into high-value niche products.


Design education does not yet seem to have reached the agenda of either pro-active donor involvement or the multinationals. There does not appear to be an awareness of the integral part in a nations industrialisation that well trained designers can and should play. From Jackie Corletts Master thesis Jackie Corlett also writes that the central key to understanding why design education is important in development situations, is the learning the way in which designers think and tackle problems. There are apparently skills that designers possess in analysis and synthesis which could be used for purposes other than the creation of objects. A.S.M. Sayem, a M. Sc. student at the Technical University of Dresden, Germany, suggests in a paper 14 that there is a need of at least one textile and clothing graduate (speaking of as diverse a group as textile and clothing technologists and engineers, textile chemists, fashion technologists etc.) for the existing 3000 running garment factories and in average five graduates for the existing about 500 different textile mills including spinning, weaving, knitting and dyeing printing mills, totally there is a need of 5500 textile graduates in the textile and clothing industry at this moment. Designers not necessarily included. The Bangladesh College of Textile Technology, a constituent of the University of Dhaka, has successfully graduated 1500 students. Mr Sayem writes that Ahsanullah University has opened a textile department, but this is so far unknown to me and will have to be researched before the next trip to Bangladesh. The BGMEA, The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers Export Association, has opened a fashion and technology institute in 2000, the BIFT. Not mentioned by mr Sayem is another new institution, the Shanto-Marian University of Creative Technology, having started this year (2003), but with ambitions of becoming the design university of Bangladesh. All the same, there is a large gap between the needs of the textile and clothing industry and the supply of graduates, be it in textile technology and/or design. It should also be mentioned that no institutions in Bangladesh offer Masters level education or the opportunity of MPhil or PhD research works in the field.

HIGHER EDUCATION I visited the BGMEA Institute of Fashion and Technology and the Shanto-Marian University of Creative Technology:


Paper of January 10th 2002, as presented on the web June 18th 2003


The BGMEA Institute of Fashion and Technology, BIFT The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers Exports Association, BGMEA, started an institute of fashion and technology in 1999, realising the need of trained designers and skilled managers in the clothing industry, especially after 2004 when the MFA (the Multifibre Agreement) is ending. Both India and Sri Lanka have invested in academic institutions training people for the readymade garment sector. The four year degree programs start out teaching basic skills in designing and making apparels. Then the students can go on to a B.Sc. in Pattern Cutting & Design or a B.Sc. in Garment Manufacturing Management The hope is that trained designers will not only enlarge the market for clothing but will also generate demand for a whole range of products manufactured indigenously and industrially in Bangladesh, as the school will turn out designers and merchandisers trained to operate in the global market. Scottish Sheena Falconer, previously teaching textile design and clothing at the Robert Goldens University in Aberdeen, was the first principal at BFIT, but did not get her two-year contract renewed in 2002, after having problems with the internal politics in the BGMEA. She is now Pro Vice Chancellor at the even newer Shanto-Mariam University of Creative Technology. The British-born textile designer Jackie Corlett is presently the only design teacher at BIFT. The students start at the age of 16-18 after having finished second division in both SSC and HSC, or A-levels (British system) or high school (American system). There are currently 200 students in this private school. The cost of a degree is approximately 270 000 Taka. This school is equipped with sewing machines, but do not have computers for the students. The standard of the classrooms is very simple. The BIFT try to find business placements for their students, hoping this will make future employment easier, i.e. one student is working 3 hours 5 days a week at Prabartana. Outside of the BIFT, there seems to be a certain pessimism as to the students actually getting jobs. Some claimed that many companies do not want to employ an educated designer, thinking that the designer will soon leave for a new job. They would rather rely on the people with less education who will stay in the job.

The Shanto-Mariam University of Creative Technology The Shanto-Mariam University of Creative Technology is a new private university, consisting today of Bangladesh Institute of Art, Design and Technology (BIADT) and the Shanto-Mariam Academy of Creative Technology, the first offering education in art, design and computing and the latter planning cultural training centres for children in rural Bangladesh. 30

The first students started at the BIADT in the beginning of June, 2003 for a two-year course. The plans are to develop into the design university of Bangladesh. Professor Falconer is interested in all kinds of cooperation that would add competence to her faculty and/or faculty to her school. She also wishes to develop a joint program in Development studies with a crafts profile, with higher education institutions in Europe. The facilities were of a higher standard than the BIFT, the students also having access to computers (at least the ones studying computing).

BRAC Univ + DTC? Advisor Syeda Sarwat Abed in Aarong told me that they were discussing starting a designer education at BRAC University. Someone else mentioned that this might be done in collaboration with the DTC, but ms Abed mentioned prestigious Western institutions as the FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York City as potential partners.

TRAINING OR SERVICE CENTRES Knowing that the formal design education institutions will use a long time providing the much needed design competence, the idea of training or service centres has developed. The intention is that the producers here can buy shortterm services in order to strengthen their design and product development competence.

The Design and Technology Centre, DTC The DTC started out as a joint project between Dhaka Camber of Commerce and the German Technical Cooperation, the GTZ. Now it is becoming its own legal entity, although financially supported by the GTZ until 2005. By then private enterprises will have to come in as owners. The German Couple Karin and Franz Bauer are Team Leaders at the DTC. Franz Bauer is an industrial designer having run his own company for twenty years. His speciality is leather design. He claims that the concept of design is relatively unknown in Bangladesh. The DTC is a facility of design services, selling to potential customers in, primarily, the large industries. Mr Bauer does not see the crafts sector as potential costumers. Experience has shown that it is not easy to reach the craftspeople, for instance has a textile workshop been postponed because no craftspeople would attend. The craftspeople have no tradition in using a service centre for further education. 31

There is a group of Bangladeshi designers working at the DTC. One of them emphasizes that DTC wishes to establish the industrial design discipline in Bangladesh. The designers also point out that the complexity of a product development is not well known in Bangladesh. The DTC cannot, and will not, offer the fast return that the Bangladeshi companies expect. They are often unwilling to pay for the field work and analysis that is a necessary preparation for the actual design work. Wanting to be an alternative to the brief designer visits so well known in Bangladesh, the DTC wishes to supply training as well as designs. Mr Bauer wants the DTC to be a platform for cooperation with donors like Norad on design projects. He finds the idea of working with industrial design students intriguing, as his teaching experience from German design schools has taught him how important it is for the students to experience the hard process of changing production processes. Mr Bauer thinks that the DTC can play an important role implementing research results, i.e. in the field of jute.

Ecota + Traidcraft? Traidcraft, a UK-based fair trade organization, is working on a proposal for a service centre, supplying: market information product development males promotion ECOTA, a fair trade network in Dhaka, has expressed interest in this idea.


In addition to the principles that are part of all DwB-projects, I have taken the liberty of formulating some principles for development projects in the field of textile design in Bangladesh that I find especially important for future projects.

PRINCIPLES In order to create lasting effects, the aim of any DwB project should be to leave as much expertise in Bangladesh as possible. An aspect of this is the length of a programme, which is also being stressed by our Bangladeshi contacts. Potential project participants from the West, will have to learn about local skills, materials, production processes etc. in order to make suggestions and designs that will have a long-term positive effect. Participation in a project should always represent an investment for the participants. Only then will the motivation for development be present, there should be no such thing as a free lunch It is the nature of organising projects as a means of developing, that everything cannot be planned in advance. There must be room for adjustments within the project process. Because the supply of designers is so little and the time it will take until the educational institutions can provide qualified graduates is so long, the emphasis in development projects should be on training in the workplace, enhancing existing skills. As a consequence hereof, product development should be combined with training in the workplace. A German industrial designer claims that training should be 50 % of a design job. Developing projects in Bangladesh should be done in such a way that all participants feel ownership to the project, if possible having cooperated in developing the project plan.

PROJECTS FOR WHOM? As pointed out by mr Chand in his report on the Norad jute project, the large mills and the smaller crafts producers do not have the same importance to the economy of Bangladesh. Only the backing of the mills can provide a production volume that will give substantial gains to the economy. The crafts producers are economically important in a different way, mainly by offering jobs to the rural population, especially women, mr Chand writes. The economical importance of the Crafts Sector should, however, not be underestimated, as the entire handloom industry, supplying 77% of the local market, could not do without the crafts businesses.


The needs of the large mills and the small crafts producers will be different. The Norad jute project has so far combined the different needs in a creative way, using the craft producers to make products demonstrating the usability of the soft jute fabric, thus promoting the fabric as well as their own products. This strategy has led to positive response for the soft fabric in the market, but has not led to the large volume sales that are needed in order to invest in the production process and to get the price down. Norad is now making efforts to differentiate the agencys activities directed toward the two groups.

WHICH MARKETS? If a designer is required to design for a foreign rather than local market, then certain skills are not able to develop in a full and relevant way. The problem is the same for designers either in industry or crafts. In many respects they are being asked to design for virtual situations only. After all, very few of the designers in these businesses will ever get the chance to visit the markets they design for, let alone be able to spend time enough in them to really develop an understanding of the nuances of a situation. Accordingly, western designers can best help with designs for the export markets of Bangladesh. However, as the local market is changing rapidly due to the increasing buying power of an internationally oriented middle class, the products designed for the export market may very well have a future in the local market.

TARGET GROUPS Concluding my investigations in Bangladesh, I have found it useful to make three potential target groups for project proposals, as these groups, as far as I can see, have different needs. 1. The Jute Mills 2. The Crafts Producers 3. The Design Education Institutions

PROPOSALS FOR THE JUTE MILLS The jute mills still need support in product development, as claimed in the Norad report and confirmed by talks with the mills. As there, so far, is no industrial design education offered in Bangladesh, this support is hard to find. The support needed as described by the jute mills can be divided into these areas:

Product development of the traditional jute

This industry needs designers who can see the potential of the fibre in big markets, i.e. geotextiles, and who are able to develop products for these markets. 34

Product development of non-woven textiles

Further development of soft thread and fabric

As mr Chand writes, it is a good way to look at the new jute fabric treating is as a material, the first step in the development. The development of a softer thread will open up large markets. Research, producing a softer thread, is also important for the crafts producers. Sustainable development of blended threads undoubtedly has a large potential. Some of the craft producers express interest in testing mixes of jute/pineapple, jute/banana etc.

Training in companies in the West

This was mentioned as a means of supplying further education to employees in the mills.

Potential partners As potential partners for these project ideas, have been mentioned: DTC South Asia Enterprise Development Facility, SEDF Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, BUET Educational institutions in the West Design companies Finding the right partners will need further investigation.

PROPOSALS FOR THE CRAFTS PRODUCERS The product development in the craft businesses should focus on making products that cannot be made by machines. This is the only way of successfully competing with machine-made products. It is, however, hard to sell something because it is handmade, - the design and the quality will have to be convincing to the buyer. Another focus should be on developing indigenous traditions, materials and skills. Having learnt a little about Jamdani, Kantha embroidery, handlooms and tribal textiles during my stay in Bangladesh, I find that the Bangladeshi crafts producers are sometimes commercialising their textile traditions, i.e. the Kantha embroidery, to an extent that is questionable and should be discussed. I personally find that i.e. the Jamdanis should be sold in a regional market, or rather, in the sub continental market. Jamdani is a product of high status in Bengal. As the status is important to keep the price high, the Jamdani saris should be sold in a market that accepts this high status. The Western markets will only see a piece of transparent cloth, however beautiful, unable to understand the preciousness of it. I am aware that my position is not shared by the NCCB. 35

Most of the crafts producers that are interested in export, are small businesses and have a limited production, making, or wanting to make, crafts products for niche markets. Reaching out to high status niche markets, design, quality and ability to deliver will be the deciding selling factors, not the price. This is to the best for Bangladesh producers, who neither in the short nor in the long run will be able to compete with China and India on price. A proposed project for design and product development in the crafts sector can be divided into different smaller projects or seen as steps in a larger project:

Step 1. Evaluation of existing crafts products

NCCB thinks that a Step 1 in a crafts export development strategy should be to evaluate the potential of existing products (and skills) in order to define existing products with an international market potential. An evaluation process would secure focus on indigenous traditions and make a good starting point for further product development, as it should make clear which products need development before they can be sold on the international market.

Step 2. Market research

The NCCB is hoping that the international market research going to be undertaken by Norad will include the crafts sector giving information about international, South Asian, sub continental and local markets.

Step 3. Market strategy

Based on steps 1 and 2, the third step would be making a market strategy for the crafts producers. Helen McGree in UKbased Traidcraft is the only person I have met during my stay in Bangladesh who is able to cooperate with the crafts producers making a market strategy. One alternative market strategy can be called The Sotheby strategy after Sotheby initiating the LOSA project: Six top international designers such as Tom Dixon, Natalie Hambro, Kate Blee and Julia Leakey are all involved in a project called London-South Africa, or LOSA, designing accessories made in rural villages in the South African province of Kwazulu-Natal. Rachel Barraclough is the curator at Sotheby's that initiated the use of the well known designers, arguing that their names would open the doors to the European market for the South-African craftspeople. The Africa Bank Foundation has also taken part. The project has made a big difference financially to those involved in South Africa. The creators of LOSA think that it could become a global business because it combines the skills of Europe's top designers with the best craftsmen and women of the world's poorer nations.15

Step 4. Training and Product Development

As emphasised throughout this report, the most efficient way of developing design competence in Bangladeshi companies is to combine product development and training in the workplace.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/2131142 June 20th 2003


Further investigations into the experiences of the Dutch designers and the training programme made by Jackie Corlett will be needed before making concrete suggestions on the content of a product development and training program. A product development and training program should be of a certain length, possibly several years. The NCCB has expressed s wish for a long-term person who could work for 3-4 companies. The program should be developed with a low-cost profile. A program would have to start with extensive fieldwork and analysis. Internships An element in a training and product development program could be internships, for instance in the design department at Aarong. Here app 20 designers work together and a visitor from the west could both teach and learn.

Potential partners As potential partners for these project ideas, have been mentioned: National Crafts Council of Bangladesh (Bangladesh Jatiya Karushilpa Parishad) Banglacraft Traidcraft Voluntary Service Overseas International design education institutions International design companies International design and crafts organisations

The potential partners are described in the Appendix at the back of the report.

PROPOSALS FOR THE DESIGN EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS Design awareness does not have to be learnt through experience, it obviously can be taught. The educational institutions in Bangladesh as described in the report, are few and far between. The BIFT and the ShantoMariam University of Creative technology are both very young institutions, the BIFT being the oldest was established in 1999. These institutions are not only young, they are also weak. There are many warning voices being heard in Bangladesh as far as cooperating with non-established institutions that may be too weak to survive. On the other hand, the weaknesses also make a need for support very obvious. The one aspect will have to be weighted against the other in the farther discussions within the DwB. The support needed as described by the BIFT and the Shanto-Mariam University of Creative Technology can be divided into these areas:

Visiting faculty

The schools certainly want international designers to teach at their schools.

Teachers further education

The teachers need further education, either going abroad visiting schools or entering internships in (fashion) companies.

Teacher exchange programmes

The levels of the higher education institutions that I visited in Bangladesh were much lower than the level of the Norwegian higher education institutions, and, even if the teachers very much want a teacher exchange programme, I do not find the idea a feasible one at present.

Student exchange programmes

As far as student exchange programmes can be developed, this would most probably have a positive effect both in Bangladesh and the cooperating institutions.

Potential partners International design education institutions International design companies International design and crafts organisations

The potential partners are described in the Appendix at the back of the report.


The future of the Bangladeshi textile production lies in the development of high-value-added products, suitable for, in the short term, export markets, but, in the long term, the local market. In order to develop such products, Bangladesh needs strengthening of its design potential. This should mainly be done training Bangladeshi designers, but for, short term gains in the export markets, the use of foreign designers will be necessary. The foreign designers should, however, have training in the worjplace as an importaintegrated part of their work. This way, product development and training in the workplace will be combined, giving both short term and longer term effects.. The garment industry and the jute mills need to export to large and varied markets For the crafts producers the much smaller high value niche markets are the most important. Accordingly, the proposals for the further involvement of DwB, is divided into two, concentrating on the large jute mills and the smaller crafts producers. I have not made any project proposal for design and product development in the clothing industry, partly because this is a large sector of which my knowledge is limited, and partly because I believe that supporting the newly established schools teaching designers for this industry, is important at this time. 1. The Jute Mills

The proposal is to concentrate on innovative product development in all, or selected areas, of jute production in collaboration with, for instance, the Industrial Design Department at the School of Architecture in Oslo, Norway, and/or the NTNU University in Trondheim, Norway. 2. The Crafts producers

The proposal is to establish a program consisting of several elements, where the role of DwB is to develop a product and training program built on the experiences made by the Dutch designers in the Norad jute project and the textile designer Jackie Corletts ideas and experience on training in the workplace. 3. The Design Education Institutions

I do not recommend establishing a cooperation programme with the design education institutions, as they are very young and weak. However, the design institutions should, if possible, become integrated in the other programmes in the sense that designers or design students involved in program 1 and 2 also can take part in teaching, training and learning activities in and in exchange with the schools.

FURTHER INVESTIGATIONS My recommendation is that further investigations in Bangladesh should be undertaken, especially looking into other product development programs run by NGOes and donors potential partners 39

Also contact-building activities towards the Norwegian and international community of designers and design education, should be carried out in order to develop new cooperation project proposals.

A Second Visit to Bangladesh In order to meet representatives for the above mentioned institutions, it will be necessary to go to Bangladesh for a second visit. The second visit should make it possible to attend the World Crafts Councils South Asia Regional Meeting on 6 th-10th of October. The seminar Crafts without Barriers is especially interesting in this context. NCCBs exhibition will then be open and will offer an interesting view of the innovation capacity of Bangladeshi textile design. It will be important to arrange a meeting at the Norwegian Embassy as the contacts from my first visit have all left the embassy, making it necessary to establish new contacts in order to secure future cooperation.


Chand, Vinay: Draft Report on Norads Jute Project Corlett, Jackie: Discovering Design - design education in a development situation, Middlesex University 1995 Gnuznavi, Sayyada Ruby: Rangeen Natural Dyes of Bangladesh, Dhaka 2002 Islam,Sadequel: The Textile and Clothing Industry if Bangladesh in a Changing World Economy, Dhaka 2001
Latif, Muhammad Abdul: Handloom Industry of Bangladesh 1947-90, Dhaka 1997

Sayem, A.S.M.: Paper of January 10th 2002, as presented on the web June 18th 2003 Zaman, Niaz: The Art of Kantha Embroidery


AIDS TO ARTISANS Will have to be investigated. AHSANULLA UNIVERSITY Will have to be investigated. AUTEX ASSOCIATION FOR THE UNIVERSITIES OF TEXTILES Will have to be investigated. BANGLADESH HANDICRAFTS MANUFACTURING AND EXPORTER ASSOCIATION, BANGLACRAFT. Banglacraft is the crafts businesses trade organisation, which currently is busy planning to build a design and research development centre in Dhaka. Membership is compulsory by law. Around 200 crafts businesses are members. The organisation is the seat of political fractions and is critisized for being inefficient and unlawful. BANGLADESH COLLEGE OF TEXTILE TECHNOLOGY16 This college under the Dhaka University is teaching students of textile. I heard little about it in Bangladesh and also found very little information is available on Internet. Academic director: M. Rahman. Address: Tejgaon 1 1208, Dhaka Bangladesh Some say this government institution does have computers with CAD-Cam programs but that the college does not know how to use them. THE BANGLADESH JUTE RESEARCH INSTITUTE, BJRI Bangladesh Jute Research Institute (BJRI) was established in 1951 in order to do research to improve jute crops and products. Presently, the institute is active in the following areas: 1. 2. 3. Agricultural Research on Jute and Allied Fibres Technological Research on Jute and Allied Fibres Economics and Marketing Research


http://www.penrose-press.com/IDD/edu/cards/E4204.html June 18th 2003



Jute and Textile Products Development Centre

BJRI has developed many new jute-based products. The future plans focus on improvement of the crops and diversification of jute products. In spite of, or because of, the negative attitudes towards the Jute Research Institute displayed by most of my informants, the Institute should be regarded as a potential contact, also in the prospect of a product development project for the large jute mills. BANGLADESH SMALL AND COTTAGE INDUSTRIES CORPORATION, BSCIC BSCIC provides a package of services to private sector entrepreneurs in the small and cottage industries sector. Small industries are defined as those engaged in manufacturing or processing or service activities whose total fixed investment is limited to Taka. 30 million (US$ 0.75 million), while cottage industries are those engaged in manufacturing or servicing and generally run by family members with a total investment limited to Taka. 0.5 million (US$ 12,500) only. BSCIC also provides assistance in all other matters relating to development and expansion of small and cottage industries (SCI). Its major functions are as follows: Promotion and registration of small and cottage industries Conducting advisory and industrial promotion services including training of entrepreneurs, skill development of artisans and craftsmen, creation of jobs for SCIs etc. Construction and development of industrial estates with necessary infrastructural facilities for SCIs. Development of linkages between SCIs and large and medium sized industries. BSCIC has developed a total of 30 industrial estates throughout the country to foster the growth of SCIs in a balanced manner, planning, development and construction works for another 54 estates are under execution so that there is at least one industrial estate in each district of the country.17 Having not met anyone from the BSCIC during my stay in Bangladesh, this organisation should be visited later. We need to know more about their activities and their degree of success. BANGLADESH UNIVERSITY OF ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY, BUET Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, abbreviated as BUET, claims to be one of the most prestigious institutions for higher studies in the country.18 About five thousand students are pursuing undergraduate and postgraduate studies in engineering, architecture, planning and science in this institution. The total number of teachers is over four hundred. The BUET campus is in the heart of Dhaka. It has a compact campus with halls of residence within walking

17 18

http://www.betelco.com/bd/bdsbus/promo.html#bscic June 18th 2003 http://www.buet.ac.bd/academics.html#fce June 18th 2003


distances of the academic buildings. The physical expansion of the University over the last three decades has been impressive with construction of new academic buildings, auditorium complex, halls of residence etc. Faculties Faculty of Architecture & Planning: Faculty of Civil Engineering: Faculty of Electrical & Electronic Engineering: Faculty of Engineering: Faculty of Mechanical Engineering:

GRAMEEN GHANASHASTO TEXTILE MILLS LTD In the chapter on the handloom industry, it is mentioned that Grameen Uddogg is running a successful export hand weaving business selling Grameen checks. It is interesting to find out more about their export strategy and design experience. THE NATIONAL HANDLOOM BOARD I have not been able to find information on the Bangladesh Handloom Board on Internet. INTERNATIONAL DESIGN EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS It will be necessary to find good cooperation partners in Norway or other Western countries if DwB is going to realise any of the project proposals. INTERNATIONAL DESIGN COMPANIES It will be necessary to find good cooperation partners in Norway or other Western countries if DwB is going to realise any of the project proposals. INTERNATIONAL DESIGN AND CRAFTS ORGANISATIONS It will be necessary to find good cooperation partners in Norway or other Western countries if DwB is going to realise any of the project proposals. NATIONAL CRAFTS COUNCIL OF BANGLADESH (BANGLADESH JATIYA KARUSHILPA PARISHAD) The National Crafts Council of Bangladesh (NCCB) was established in 1985 to research, develop and promote the indigenous crafts of the country. There are 200-250 members. The NCCB plans to undertake a major project to research, document and publish a book, Textile Traditions of Bangladesh, on the four prime textile traditions of this country; Jamdani, silk, indigenous weaves and Kantha embroidery. It will study and document the traditional techniques, the looms and other ancillary tools, yarns and dyes used in the production process. An important component of the project is the following up of the creative interaction of four of the best designers with the finest weavers and embroiderers of the country. 44

SOUTH ASIA ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT FACILITY, SEDF The South Asia Enterprise Development Facility (SEDF) was launched in October 2002 to support sustainable growth and development of the SME sector in Bangladesh, Northeast India, Bhutan and Nepal. The bulk of SEDFs resources are geared toward assisting Bangladeshs SMEs, which account for over 80 percent of the industrial labour force and 50 percent of the nations output. Boosting competitiveness and productivity of the SME sector will translate to higher incomes for its workers and greater employment in an economy where half the population, representing 60 million people, remain in poverty. Partnering with IFC, the World Bank Group, other development institutions, as well as the public and private sector, SEDF is strengthening local SMEs through programs based on four strategic pillars: Access to Finance providing banks training courses, technical assistance (TA), workshops and seminars to improve their operating efficiency and increase their SME lending assisting SMEs in writing loan applications and good business plans Business Development Services Programs to train the trainers or build capacity of local training institutions and consultants so they can then offer local firms highly flexible, affordable, and more SME-focused technical and managerial training opportunities Business Enabling Environment working with SMEs, SME business associations and policy-makers to mobilize efforts toward greater SME advocacy Special Projects establishing linkages between SMEs and large corporates in key sub-sectors (e.g. agribusiness and ready-made garments) as a source of SME growth and job creation increasing inter-regional trade between Bangladesh and Northeast India Headquartered in Dhaka, Bangladesh, SEDF is managed by the IFC SME Department. Donors include UK, Canada, ADB, IFC, DFID. This institution should be included in the program for the next visit to Bangladesh.

TRAIDCRAFT Traidcraft is the UKs leading fair trade organisation, which was set up in 1979 to challenge the unfair way in which international trading systems are usually structured. Traidcraft operates on the principle that by paying a fair price for the products we buy, and establishing long-term relationships of partnership and co-operation, we can help poor 45

communities to work their way out of poverty and create a more equitable world. Most of Traidcrafts trading partners are community-based enterprises and associations of smallholder farmers organised for the benefit of their producers and growers. Traidcraft can give producers access to credit, which allows them to buy the raw materials they need. We also support training programmes, which develop the skills and knowledge of our producers. Traidcraft is a Christian initiative, which welcomes co-operation with all who share a concern for fairer trade.19 VOLUNTARY SERVICE OVERSEAS The VSO is a Britain-based NGO helping volunteers to find positions in developing countries. The VSO has designers among their volunteers, having received requests for craft, product and technical designers to work in countries as diverse as Nepal, Zambia, Namibia and Bangladesh. VSO volunteers with a background in craft or product design work in two main types of placement. Some work in educational institutions training students, others work with local craftspeople and small enterprises, advising on the design, production and marketing of goods produced with local materials. Relevant degree or HND with two years related experience is necessary Qualifications. Marketing experience will be required for some posts. Maybe the VSO can be a partner in part of the program that Design without Borders will be developing.


http://www.traidcraft.co.uk/indext2.html June 22nd 2003 46