On 15th October, we had the privilege of hosting the inaugural Fair Play Forum in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Convening social businesses, NGOs, artisan producers and fashion students involved in the craft and artisan sector, the Forum provided a platform for each of the stakeholders to engage with each other in meaningful conversation. Leaders from Arayana, DEW, FRC Bangladesh, Hems & Hues and Fashion Revolution Bangladesh had an opportunity to not only share successes and challenges, but explore ways in which collaborations could be fostered within the sector. Recognizing the need and value in cross sector collaboration, leaders from the various social businesses discussed means by which they could not only support each other as they work towards having a larger impact in the sector, but how they can engage and create awareness with local consumers too. With the rise of the middle class and the affluence it brings, the participants present were keen to engage local consumers in a dialogue about the sector and impact it has within the community and environment.
As the artisan made sector is often the second largest employer (after agriculture) in the two-thirds world, the stakeholders at the Forum all recognized the importance of “investing in people” and “investing in community” through their endeavours in the the sector.
The Forum was also an opportunity for producers to share their stories about how employment in the sector has impacted their lives. Shafaly Akter from the Carpet Workshop, described how through her work in the sector she no longer feels “weak or helpless” and doesn’t feel like she is a “burden on her family”. In spite of her disability, she is now confidence in her work and the carpets she makes. Nurun Nabi from DEW expressed similar feelings about his work in the sector too and shared his satisfaction in being recognized for his workmanship and crafts he produces.
On display were a variety of hand and artisan made products including: home decor products made from bamboo, jute, betel nut and terracotta; carpets made from recycled saris; hand made children’s clothing made with natural vegetable dyes; clothes made from pineapple fiber and; traditional hand woven kantha blankets.
Those convened at the Forum plan to create a network that supports each other via trainings and events in the new year. We look forward to following their success and sharing their stories.
To see photo’s from the Forum, click here.
To see additional photo’s from our recent visit with producers and partners in Bangladesh, click here.