For several reasons Bangladesh textile and Ready Made Garment (RMG) industry is far away from its target to attain 50 billion USD by 2021, which was set by the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturing and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the government in 2014. A few days ago, Textile Today’s research showed that human capital transformation could be one of the possible way outs to attain the target and overcome the industry’s challenges. Recently Textile Today team met with Debashish Saha, Executive Director of Fakir Apparels Ltd., one of the leading companies in the garment sector manufacturing with a wide range of products serving to a diverse portfolio of clients. He shared his insights about Human Capital transformation and challenges of textile industry. He also gave a deep insight on his factory, which have taken exemplary initiatives to transform their people. The company recently received award for enhancing dialogue, working conditions and productivity in their factory through successful participation in the Sustainable Supplier Programme (SSP) from the C&A Foundation and Deutsche Gesellschaft Fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GMBH.
Textile Today: Which type of steps Fakir Apparels Ltd. has taken for Human Capital transformation?
Debasish Saha: We are continuing some projects since five years ago even if the project separately is not a business case. We started a training school where unskilled people can admit. They have the chance to get promotion from helper to supervisor position based on their performance. These programs are certified by Bangladesh Technical Education Board (BTEB) from the funding help of H&M, ILO, Sida and CSR of Fakir Apparels Ltd. with the purpose of upgrading their competency level according to the NTVQF (National Technical & Vocational Qualification Framework) Level-1 as well as meeting industry need (Multi-Skill Operator) and others.
The training school is also offering training programs for Management Trainee (Officer Position) to the Textile Graduates of the company where they can uplift their career up to even CEO level. In order to ensure the leadership continuity in key positions and develop intellectual and knowledge capital for the future, they developed ‘Succession Management Programme’. They are providing internal training on Production Staff Development, Quality Management System, Training of Trainers, Essentials of Occupational Safety and Health, Management Trainee, Female Supervisor Development Programme and external training as well.
The best achievement of the training school is that it is contributing in a great deal in Fakir Apparel’s philosophy of ‘Not hiring leaders, rather making leaders’. We have number of examples in our company who are working long time in the company and have been promoted to real top levels from very entry level positions.
Textile Today: Do you think your company’s focus in Human Capital development has helped in technology adoption?
Debasish Saha: We are enjoying number of indirect benefits which we believe are being supported by our Human Capital development activities. While many of the Bangladeshi factories could not adopt production and process improvement software Fakir has successfully implemented them. The positive mindset of our people steered by our Human Resource Development planning has made the differences. We have installed the software “RunStyle-Pro” which handles many IE functions like establishing SMV, preparation of operation bulletins with line balancing, maintaining operator skill matrix, calculating machine requirements and preparing style change schedules. We also advanced in our information system by employing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, Fast React planning system, fabric roll system etc.
Textile Today: From which angle Fakir Apparels is different from others?
Debasish Saha: I would say our strength in design and development is making huge difference. Besides the training schools of Fakir Apparels, we have our own Fakir Apparels Design Studio (F.A.D.S)
established in 2015 with in-house fabric technicians, fashion designers, graphic designers, print technicians, sample makers and fit technicians directed by Europe based designers. We make sure that all the details that go into making a garment are looked into meticulously by making monthly trips to the buyers’ headquarters and trim suppliers. We fulfill our commitment to the customers by making right product within the given lead time.
Textile Today: What type of policy has Fakir Apparels taken for sustainable growth?
Debasish Saha: We have taken number of initiatives to make our facilities environmentally sustainable. Major infrastructure renovations in Fakir Apparels have made Fakir Apparels one of the safest places for us to work within. We focus on reduction of the usage of water by installing modern machineries rather than the treatment of wastewater generation. Industries are actually shifting pollution by making sludge as there is no proper management for sludge. That’s why we have a target to reach 23 litre water/kg of fabric for production. We have a plan to move forward by espousing Cold Pad Batch Dyeing by 2020.
Textile Today: Why the price of apparel exported by Bangladesh is decreasing day by day?
Debasish Saha: As we do not know the marketing intelligence of the business, we are competing with ourselves by reducing the price of the products we are making. Entrepreneurs need to do segmentation for enhancing the capability such as the market positioning of our products, value proposition- the desired types of products and brand and product promotion- the ability of communicating our capacity of making desired product.
In order to achieve long-term results, market segmentation is necessary for the entrepreneurs to know their market area. We need to make innovative products to get higher price of the products as now we are being paid by the price set by the buyers. Factories also need to arrange trainings for the managerial role to enhance their negotiation skills.
Textile Today: To you what are the major challenges our industry is facing?
Debasish Saha: The challenges we are facing now are money inflation, energy crisis, water crisis, growth reduction. We need to improve the safety issues in factory. We could easily solve the problem of shortage of workers if we decentralize the areas of industries.
Textile Today: What is your comment on the export target of 50 billion dollar from RMG sector by 2021?
Debasish Saha: It seems feasible when the target was set looking at our previous 10-15 years growth in the industries. Now it seems quite difficult. But we could still reach this target by doing product development, bringing diversification in the products and creating market segmentation. As we do not have sufficient gas, electricity, power, manpower, raw-materials; increasing industries are not the best solution. So we just need to know the market place of the business and the desired product types for increasing value.
Textile Today: How do you see the future of Bangladesh textile sector?
Debasish Saha: As we still have time for improvement, we need to improve our communication skills. In order to increase the experts within country, we need more textile based institution with strong curriculum. We have to be sure of making innovative products to reach the target of 50 billion dollars export from RMG sector by 2021.
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