IFC facilitates $50m programme to make garment industry safer
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is providing funding to local Bangladeshi banks in a wide-ranging program in an effort to make the country's garment industry safer for workers.
Under the program, IFC will provide $10m 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 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 has signed separate cooperation agreements with the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety and the Accord on Fire Safety and Building Safety in Bangladesh, 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.
Bangladesh’s ready-made garment industry employs more than 4m people—mostly women—in about 4,500 factories and accounts for about 80% of the country’s exports. Despite a strong desire to improve worker safety, IFC says that many factories have found it difficult to access the capital necessary to make the improvements necessary to meet buyer’s standards.