The ready-made garment (RMG) industry of Bangladesh has progressed rapidly in the last decade, increasing its annual export earnings from $12.49 billion in the fiscal year 2009-10 to $42.61 billion in the fiscal year 2021-22.
The robust growth in the apparel sector, that helped Bangladesh achieve both international prowess and domestic prosperity, did not come by chance. It has been possible mainly because of modernization and technological upgradation of factories over the past decade as well as the strides made in workplace safety, environmental sustainability, and compliance issues.
Since its inception, sustainability has always been a key strategic priority for the RMG industry in Bangladesh. In about four decades, the industry has emerged as the lifeblood of the Bangladesh economy, accounting for more than 81% of the country's export earnings.
We are living in a complex world where the risks, challenges, and prosperities are interconnected. The values and visions of global businesses undergoes recalibration from time to time, with its focus on sustainability ever increasing. As the RMG sector in Bangladesh aspires to become a leader in sustainable manufacturing, the industry is preparing itself for the next growth phase. Therefore, we have realigned our vision with the SDG goals.
The industry has successfully created a strong foothold in the global apparel value chain through unparalleled efforts in workplace safety and environmental sustainability. Sustainability is about not only fulfilling social, ecological, and economic obligations; it also constitutes how we remain economically viable through innovation, digitisation, diversification, and productivity.
Globally acclaimed as one of the safest and most environmentally-friendly apparel manufacturing countries in the world, Bangladesh has the highest number of green factories certified by USGBC. We are also a front-runner in transparency, which adds unique ethical values to our products.
As a manifestation of the excellence the industry has achieved, Bangladesh is now the second largest garment manufacturer in the world, with its products exported to as many as 167 countries. However, we cannot let complacency set in, and efforts to scale up excellence must never stop. Excellence is a continuous journey that never ends.
Our beloved association, BGMEA, which has been serving for decades as a beacon for the industry, and its time to adopt changes in its philosophy, vision, missions, and in its corporate identity for even greater success. While we were redesigning our logo and revisiting our vision, it was paramount to preserve the heritage of BGMEA. This organisation has provided the much-needed direction to the highest export-earning sector of Bangladesh through prudent and successful leadership.
Over the years, the industry has accomplished significant social and economic strides, effectively transforming into a responsible endeavour. In that process, our successive leaders have guided our industry through thick and thin.
As a result, the new logo's primary colour palette has remained intact. The difference now is that we have a story to go along with the logo's colour and symbols.
Thus, BGMEA is emerging with the new logo, which is coded as 'nine-dots'. The 'dots' will connect the positive forces and stakeholders toward the common global goals to realign our business strategy with the changing landscape of the global economy.
The first dot means, people come first. Our motto is to forever work for the well-being of the people of Bangladesh and humankind at large, inside and outside the industry. Here the underlying principle is to improve conditions for the country's approximately four-million garment workers, contribute to the national economy and improve the fate of the common people.
The second dot represents inclusivity, which is already one of the hallmarks of the Bangladesh RMG industry. Being the country's largest formal sector employer, with around 60% of our employees being women, we want to listen and be approachable. We are open to involving people from across the socio-economic spectrum, without any form of discrimination.
The third dot is about transparency. Now Bangladesh is a front-runner in transparency regarding factory safety and value-chain responsibility. Accountability and access to information are central to building a trustworthy, flexible, and resilient organisation.
The fourth dot is about infrastructure. In the last decade, we have made tremendous progress in making our factories safe, environment-friendly, and employee-friendly. As a result, workplace mishaps have become a thing of the past in the RMG sector. But we cannot let our guard down. This underlying theme of the logo will continue to inspire us to build safe, sustainable, and green factories having modern safety and security apparatus.
The fifth dot signifies innovation. To encourage us to innovate which is key to our survival. The 4th industrial revolution has accelerated the process of automation and virtual prototyping. To keep up with the global trend, significant investment in skill development and R&D is already taking place in factories.
While individual factories are working on their own to innovate and design high-end products for exports, BGMEA has set up a 'Centre for Innovation, Efficiency and OSH' which will cater to the industry's quest for innovation and perfection.
The sixth dot is about circularity, which is very important for the conservation of our natural ecosystem. As an eco-conscious industry, we are increasingly focusing on shifting from a linear system to a circular system. Manufacturers, buyers, and recyclers are making concerted efforts to collect and reuse the textile waste in Bangladesh.
The seventh dot is about strengthening our global network. It will motivate us to strive to be ahead in the world through innovation, pivots, and flexible adaptations.
The eight dot of BGMEA's new logo focuses on Branding Bangladesh. It aims to convey what BGMEA represents, the vital role it plays in representing Bangladesh in the global market, and branding Bangladesh to the world.
Finally, the ninth dot represents environmental sustainability. This symbolises the respect BGMEA has for nature and its dedication to preserving the ecosystem.
These nine dots on the logo are the matrix of BGMEA's scope of work and influence. We have placed the dots in columns to depict our journey from micro to macro, effort to effect, and local to global.
It is a natural change. When we look at the nine dots in rows, the relationship continues. The first three dots highlight 'reach,' the second three highlight 'transformation,' and the third three highlight 'sustainability.' These nine dots signify BGMEA's new identity.
The RMG industry has a long way to go, but the benefits are enormous. The worldwide market trend indicates that Bangladesh has potential to increase its market share. In the international market, it appears that the tide is turning in Bangladesh's favour.
Furthermore, the degree of development we have accomplished thus far puts us in a favourable position to increase our worldwide market share. What we need to do is continue to develop, improve, and diversify. We are rapidly approaching the point when we will be able to establish an annual export target of $100 Billion from this critical industry.
Faruque Hassan is the President of BGMEA.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.