SE Forum

“Empowering 3.6 million textile workers in Bangladesh."

Blogginlägg   •   Feb 14, 2013 14:17 CET

What is your social initiative about?
I am working on developing the Bhalo Hub, an initiative to, through multi-stakeholder collaboration, improve working and living conditions for textile workers in Bangladesh. 

How is a typical day being you?
At the moment I am busy as a bee, adding piece after piece to a foundation of stakeholders and initiatives in order to build the network, the tools and the systems. And I am also looking at finding financial support for the first stages of the Bhalo Hub initiative, for the set up phase and the pilot phase. 

How come that you took exactly this path that you have chosen? How has your journey been so far?
Every morning the streets of Dhaka are crowded with cars, buses rikshas and an almost endless stream of young women and men, hurrying to their jobs in the textile factories. These people have little or no knowledge of their rights as workers, as women, as human beings.

During my four years of living in Bangladesh I visited textile factories and plants in order to, for CSR reports and annual reports, investigate if and how codes of conduct and CSR programs makes an impact on working conditions, on awareness and on attitudes.

I did see a positive change and it made me realize that business driven initiatives make a difference.

Since then I have, on assignment for enterprises, been working on building effective tools for improving conditions and awareness levels for employees in textile factories in Bangladesh.

I am convinced that business can be a strong force, a drive towards change. And that everyone, not only the people that stitch the garments we wear, gain from that change.

What’s your next step? What’s your dream/vision?
I truly believe in working together. I want to see people make choices, choose paths, based on a holistic and sustainable view.

I want to see employees, companies, factories, consumers, governments empowered by the choices they make, individually and together.

Being a social entrepreneur is most often not to follow the straight wide road. Can you tell us about any road less travelled that you’ve taken and how it turned out?
In the beginning of 1990 I spent 6 months in South Africa to, with my camera, tell the story of change.

I was very fortunate to be there when Nelson Mandela was released on February 11, 1990. This was my chance to capture the historic moment of Mandela’s first steps in freedom.

Amongst herds of journalists on ladders and chairs I was waiting for him to appear. I had found myself a good spot but the very moment Mandela stepped out of the prison door I was knocked down on the ground. When I managed to get up again Nelson Mandela was gone … I grieved so at my failure and still do.

Three days later, thanks to a friendly TV team, I entered the home of Nelson Mandela. Not only did I get great photos of Nelson Mandela, (that made the cover of the Swedish edition of his biography) but most importantly a warm welcoming hug as we met in his living room.

So why am I telling this? Well, with a little help you can achieve what you want even if you do not have sharp elbows. Building friendship, network is a great force.

What impact do you aim to make? What impacts have you seen so far?
Improved working and living conditions, empowering 3.6 million textile workers in Bangladesh, 3 million of them women.

Why does the impact you are trying to make, improved working and living condition for textile workers in Bangladesh matter to you?
I wear the clothes that these people make.

Tell us one thing about you that not too many people know about you. Any secret talents?
In my next life I will be an architect, designing sustainable houses. 

Why are you participating in the SE Outreach Accelerator? What are your expectations and needs? How has your experience been so far?
The Accelerator is a way to speed up the process of developing the initiative: I expect to get access to expertise, feedback and contacts that will enhance and refine the Bhalo Hub. I enjoy assisting my fellow team members in their developments too.

I am truly inspired by the team, the set up and the workplace. I love the way and the frequency of the question: What do you need?

Any good tips you want to share with the outer world?
When you get angry – take a deep breath and you will find a constructive way to deal with your problem.