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IFC Teams Up With Leading Banks, Buyers, to Improve Safety in Bangladesh Garment Factories


In Washington
John McNally
Telephone: +1 202 458 0723
Email: jmcnally@ifc.org


Washington, DC July 7, 2015—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today announced a wide-ranging program to make Bangladesh’s garment industry safer for workers, providing $50 million to local banks and forming partnerships with leading international buyers. This is IFC’s first deployment of long term financing to Bangladeshi banks

Bangladesh’s ready-made garment industry employs more than 4 million people—mostly women—in about 4,500 factories. The sector accounts for about 80 percent of the country’s exports. Despite  a strong desire to improve worker safety, many factories have found it difficult to access the capital necessary to make the improvements necessary to meet buyer’s standards.

Under the program, IFC will provide $10 million each in financing to five Bangladeshi banks which will allow participating banks to increase lending to garment factories specifically to improve their structural, electrical and fire (SEF) safety infrastructure. Prime Bank Limited has already signed up to the initiative, and four other Bangladesh banks are expected to follow in the coming weeks.

In addition, IFC signed separate cooperation agreements with the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance) and the Accord on Fire Safety and Building Safety in Bangladesh (Stichting Bangladesh Accord Foundation), who represent dozens of the world’s leading garment brands. The two organizations will assist garment factories to undertake the SEF upgrades, and monitor compliance.

“Broad, innovative partnerships are necessary to improve the safety of workers in this critical industry,” said IFC CEO and EVP Jin-Yong Cai. “Banks, international buyers, and manufacturers have a shared interest in this issue because it’s indispensable to making Bangladeshi garment factories more competitive and sustainable.”

The Alliance and the Accord will each contribute $250,000 to support the program implementation. Together with IFC, the Accord and Alliance  have both provided training to participating banks on the factory remediation process and understanding the resulting SEF corrective action plans (CAPs), and they are monitoring factory progress on compliance against these CAPs.

Speaking at the signing, the Honorable Ellen Tauscher, Independent Chair of the Alliance, said “The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance) is focused on ensuring workers in the garment sector have a safe and secure working environment, Alliance Members have dedicated significant resources to this goal.  Providing long term loans to factory owners to undertake and implement remediation is an ongoing effort and this joint initiative will allow for a wider group of factory owners to have access to financing.  The Alliance is pleased to have this partnership with the IFC.”

Rob Wayss, Executive Director of the Accord, said “The aim of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is to make the RMG sector in Bangladesh safe and sustainable.  Accord signatory companies have invested considerable financial and technical resources to meet this aim.  The IFC remediation financing program is an important contribution to the Accord’s ongoing efforts to ensure necessary remediation at inspected factories and meets an express request of local industry. The Accord is pleased to be working with the IFC in supporting factories, particularly the smaller and medium sized ones, who are in need of access to this type of affordable long term financing.”

It is expected that the program will be scalable and replicable in other countries around the world.

About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. Working with private enterprises in about 100 countries, we use our capital, expertise, and influence to help eliminate extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. In FY14, we provided more than $22 billion in financing to improve lives in developing countries and tackle the most urgent challenges of development. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

About The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety
The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety is a legally binding, five-year commitment between 26 global apparel brands dedicated to improving safety in Bangladesh’s ready-made garment (RMG) industry. The Alliance holds each member and its factories accountable to operating workplaces that effectively ensure building and fire safety. In partnership with the Government of Bangladesh, trade unions and employers, the Alliance helps implement lasting reforms that improve worker safety throughout the Bangladesh garment factories and that ultimately create sustainable and positive economic development for Bangladesh. More information about the Alliance can be found at www.bangladeshworkersafety.org.

About the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (the Accord), signed on May 15th 2013, is a five year independent, legally binding agreement between 205 apparel brands and retailers and trade unions designed to build a safe and healthy Bangladeshi Ready Made Garment (RMG) Industry. The agreement was created in the immediate aftermath of the Rana Plaza building collapse that led to the death of more than 1100 people and injured more than 2000.  The aim of the Accord is to make the RMG sector in Bangladesh safe and sustainable, where no worker needs to fear fires, building collapses or other accidents that could be prevented with reasonable safety and health measures.  More information about the Accord can be found at www.bangladeshaccord.org .