A win-win situation for all stakeholders is the need of the hour in apparel business.
And keeping this in mind, some of the organisations are putting in genuine efforts that are not only pushing good practice in manufacturing, but also promoting the life of village-based women by providing them employment near their home. Industree Foundation, Bangalore, a prestigious organisation which is going to complete 20 years of its inception, is aggressively working to build sustainable livelihoods by manufacturing textile products.
Having clients like Ikea and many more, the foundation is also growing its footprint in apparel manufacturing. In discussion with Apparel Resources, Susan Bhaktul, CEO-Apparel of the foundation who has a long experience of working with Nike and other well-known names of the apparel industry, shared overall strategy, challenges and achievements so far.
The foundation is marking its presence in the textile industry through its initiatives like Bangalore Greenkraft, which is a women majority producer-owned company and making natural fibre products for brands like Ikea, TJ Maxx, etc. Apparel vertical at Industree Foundation, Ektha, started with the brand Mother Earth and now has around 520 machines producing more than 1,00,000 pieces per month in 3 different states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka. Approximately, 1,200 women are producers involved in the manufacturing of men’s shirts, ladies’ tops, boxer shorts, basic pants, men’s and ladies kurtas and pyjamas.
Fabindia Cosmozone, Venga Brand, Culture Clothing and Tenacity Clothing are also some of the clients of the foundation.
Despite all the challenges related to manufacturing and marketing, that too in remote areas, the foundation is further growing as it is in discussion to start facilities in 2 other states of Jharkhand and Maharashtra.
“At work level, apart from initial problems, the main challenge is absenteeism as women go back to fields during harvest season. There are also challenges with respect to continuous power supply at the facility,” says Susan. She further adds, “When we start a facility, we move mid-level management from the cities at a huge cost. These personnel’s responsibility is also to train the local talent to move up to supervisory levels. It is almost impossible to find middle management in these areas. We also hope that these facilities will soon attract people who have left their hometowns to move to cities and they come back home and join our facilities.”
Having production in a remote area seems cost-effective, but there is a strong need to see it from a different perspective as Susan tells, “We are taking garment work to the villages and small towns to give livelihood to the women there. Our aim is that they earn above fair wage and are given the best training online. We do not compromise on the compliance of the facility, which means the facility is completely safe and is up to the standard of a factory that can be audited and approved by brands. It is a wrong notion to think that just because the factory is based in a village or a small town, the wages are being compromised. So, we do not offer a product at a discount. Our pricing methods are scientific and dictated by the minute value. We do, however, work to match targets given by our customers.”
Women workers that work in Industree’s factory opine that the set-up is close to their home and so it’s more convenient to work there than in another garment factory. In Karnataka, Industree is working with producers in the apparel value chain, incubating and accelerating independent producer units in 7 districts, of which projects have already begun in Mandya and Ramanagara districts.
Industree Foundation also organises programmes to train women. So far, 30,000 women have been trained by the organisation. Industree Skills Transform Pvt. Ltd. (ISTPL) is a skill development company that works with lesser known apparel producers, handloom weavers and handicraft artisans.
- Underthe leadership of Neelam Chhiber, Co-founder and Managing Trustee of Industree Crafts Foundation, the organisation is uplifting the lives of women. Awarded many times with prestigious awards, Neelam is associated with several prestigious councils and associations
- Welfare activities are at the core of Industree Foundation; manyhealth check-up campaigns and allied initiatives are taken up for women
- Local crafts are being promoted by the foundation
- 30,000 womenhave been so far trained by the foundation (Industree Skills Transform Pvt. Ltd.)