Direct exports without middleman lead to better margins and more learning opportunities for the factories…..

Dhyana Van Der Pols,   Program Manager,  CBI   
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Centre for the Promotion of Imports (CBI), the part of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency is funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, contributes to sustainable and inclusive economic development in developing countries through the expansion of exports from these countries to Europe. CBI established on 1971. In Bangladesh, it started its work in 2014 through ‘Export Coaching Program’ and it is coming to an end in 2017. The goal of this program is to help a number of garment manufacturers in Bangladesh to move up from the low end of the market to higher EU market segments. Dhyana Van Der Pols, Program Manager of CBI, attended the CBI trade show in Dhaka on 10 July. Recently the Program Manager has discussed several key issues with Textile Today. Here is the brief of the interview for our readers.

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Figure: Dhyana Van Der Pols, Program Manager, CBI giving interview to Akhi Akter, Sub Editor, Bangladesh Textile Today

Textile Today: Could you please share us the mission and vision of CBI (Centre for the Promotion of Imports)? How could the organization help the Bangladesh RMG sector to promote its export?

Dhyana: The CBI has got 42 years’ experience in export coaching. CBI involves factories in coaching and work around 4-5 years to help them to work directly in distribution with the buyers and retailers in the Europe. We recommend them not only to work with Netherlands, but to entire Europe, where we offer them a network of over six thousands buyers. The Centre for Promotion of Imports was established by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs to promote value addition in the garments sector and to ensure their foothold in new market other than traditional market. We have done the coaching programs in many countries already. This is the second time that Bangladesh is a subject. And current project is for five years. In the project we help them in marketing, with compliance, with chemical management and with all the requirements of buyer’s today. In the last phase of the project, we also bring the buyers here and this year we have done it on 10th July. This is a trade show where buyers join and directly interact with the participating factories.

Textile Today: How does the CBI operate ‘export coaching program’ and what are the output of it?

Dhyana: This program began in 2014 and will end in 2017. After selecting and auditing companies, we began to train and coach them. The process is of three phases, which is like the acquisition phase, where we do a selection of companies. We only work with small and medium enterprises, meaning that we want to establish a strong mid-segment manufacturing within all the developing countries we work. Bangladesh is one of the preferred nations because still a few exports only is for higher market segment, it’s a transitional county with an ambition to become middle income country and that is also one of the aims of CBI. We do this by providing technical assistance, consultancy and funding of traders for participating in foreign events to have a durable economic position and one of the aims is to elevate country from poverty.

Textile Today: What kinds of products do you inspire to export in EU and how could this help to increase export in EU from Bangladesh?

Dhyana: Bangladesh still exports commodities like low price T-shirt, jeans that already are not enough for some years. With export coaching program, we want to inform buyer about product diversification of Bangladesh. We inform buyers that you can buy not only low price T-shirt, jeans from Bangladesh but also more elevated products like lingerie, swim wear, footwear and many more. Therefore, what we aim with the project is to show the product diversification of the sector, which has already taken place, but very few European buyers are aware of it.  We have seen from the former project that after the five years; as we also bring the buyers, we could help a group of front-runners to reach higher market segments. This should serve as a positive example for the sector, inspiring them to begin to add more value to their products too. That way the garment industry will contribute to more sustainable economic growth in Bangladesh. We monitor also the turnover, so what we actually want to make their export sustainable, durable and profitable.

Textile Today: How the Accord and Alliance help CBI in Safety issue?

Dhyana: No, when we design the project and presented it to our ministry, it was before the tragedy of Rana Plaza building collapse. We already believe that the capacity of trading across underutilized in Bangladesh. We choose those factories, which have right mentality willing to export directly without help of buying house. We are also training the companies in direct exports as most of Bangladesh’ garment exports are sold through local buying houses. This means smaller margins for the manufacturers and they have no contact with European buyers and cannot learn about European buyer needs. Direct exports lead to better margins and more learning opportunities. Of course, there is necessary working with Accord and Alliance, but sustainability and compliance in building and fire safety is very different from product safety. We focus on more real business. It is encouraged that all the companies to be compliant by Accord and Alliance, but we never refuse if they are not compliant by them.

Textile Today: What kinds of Technical support are offered by CBI in developing countries to increase the export of value added product?

Dhyana: Yes, this is nice question. We coach the factories where we train them on how to find right buyers in EU market, how to profound your company, how to make a good connection, how to do the price negotiation, how to make a balanced offer etc. We have compliance expert, who coach the companies on affluent water treatment, on chemical storage, on legislation on rich and zero discharge etc. We work for building a product range, product development and design. Product and collection development are good ways of moving up into a higher market segment, so it is very complimentary discipline.

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