Providing employees with access to affordable household necessities and support
Garment manufacturer DBL Group has joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a pledging to provide 24,450 of its employees with access to affordably priced basic household food and health items through its Bandhan Fair Price Shops.
Accessibility to affordable basic necessities has been a major concern in Kashimpur, Gazipur, Bangladesh, where nearly 7,000 DBL Group employees live and work. Established in 1991, DBL Group supplies quality garments to global retailers such as H&M and Puma. The remote locations of DBL’s new factories and lack of shops in these areas has made it difficult for workers to access items their families need at affordable prices.
The financial crisis of 2008 further increased the prices of basic goods, putting them out of reach for many of the company’s workers. Women’s lack of access to affordable feminine hygiene products resulted in high absenteeism and decreased their job satisfaction and productivity responded by launching its first Bandhan Fair Price Shop, offering basic necessities at subsidized prices to its employees. Bandhan’s products are not only sold for less than the usual market price, but in these cashless shops, DBL employees are able to purchase items on credit without being charged interest.
With the success of the first Bandhan shop, five DBL manufacturing complexes established their own Fair Price Shops, benefitting nearly 24,450 employees and their families. These shops’ 370 items – from recognized international and local brands– include food, cooking oil, toiletries, home supplies and beverages. They also include sanitary napkins, which are sold at over 70 percent less than the average market price. Through the company’s Women’s Health Initiative, there are woman present at all Bandhan shops to provide information and facilitate their purchase since women may not feel comfortable buying them from men.
Within three months of opening the first Bandhan Fair Price Shop, the rate of absenteeism among DBL employees decreased by more than one third. It has also partnered with UNICEF to promote good breastfeeding practices among women employees. In tandem with its health programme, the company has established a women’s leadership initiative focused on enabling women workers to become supervisors through a comprehensive training programme.
The company’s BCtA pledge includes providing social and economic empowerment to over 8,550 women at the base of the economic pyramid: its vision is to be the most attractive employer for women in Bangladesh’s garment industry.