METRO GROUP and textile association open Child Day Care Center in Narayanganj Bangladesh

13 August 2010

Representatives from METRO GROUP and the textile manufacturer's association of Bangladesh (BKMEA) celebrated the grand opening of a Child Day Care Center in one of the biggest clusters for garment production near Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, on Thursday. The opening ceremony took place under the auspices of the government of Bangladesh – represented by commerce minister Muhammad Faruk Khan – as well as Holger Michael, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bangladesh and members of parliament. Minister Muhammad Faruk Khan highlighted the significance of the child day care center as an example of corporate responsibility in Bangladesh. The facilities could serve as a role model for other companies. 

The minister expressed his confidence that other companies will follow METRO GROUP’s example: "I am glad to see that METRO GROUP delivered its promise to help the workers in garment production. We have learned from this cooperation, that commitments were given and also delivered on time." The state-of-the-art facility accommodates 60 children of women working in the garment industry. The facility offers them the opportunity to earn their livelihoods and to have a family at the same time. Thus, the facility represents an important milestone in METRO GROUP’s efforts to systematically improve working conditions in the textile supplier industry. The center serves the production area of Narayanganj where about 300 knitwear factories are located – of which many are not suppliers of METRO GROUP. 

Unlike conventional facilities of this kind the Child Day Care Center is more than just a place where children are looked after – a place for education, learning and community building. The number of children will be increased in future. They will be divided into four age groups to ensure proper caring based on age requirements. "We want to set up a show case for an outstanding initiative – also in order to encourage other players in the sector to take over responsibility as well", said Dr. Michael J. Inacker, Head of Communications, Public Affairs and CSR, METRO GROUP, at the opening ceremony. "This project is part of our ongoing efforts to increase social standards and we hope that other companies will follow our example." He called upon the present textile companies "to continually work together witch METRO GROUP to improve social standards." Parents of the children were also present at the opening ceremony and expressed their appreciation about the new facilities. 

The center will be a hub for the community and provides education not only for children but also for their families on topics like hygiene, or health care. METRO GROUP teamed up with the BKMEA, one of the most important associations for the garment producing factories, to have a strong and reliable partner and create a real impact in the community. "We want to create a real value added for the working women and to contribute to improving their quality of life", said Salim Osman, President of BKMEA. He also added that the Child Day Care Center will be a ground breaking initiative for child care in Bangladesh as BKMEA is the first in the history of trade organizations of the country to establish such centralized day care centre for their workers from social commitment. 

For more than 20 years Bangladesh has been an important sourcing base for METRO GROUP, especially in the field of garments. Women make up 80 percent of the workforce in the factories – most of them have children. "As one of the major retailers METRO Group has a responsibility to contribute to the sustainable development in the countries we operate. With projects like the Child Day Care Center we are living up to our responsibility", adds Dr. Inacker. 

BKMEA (Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association) represents the knitwear sector which is the largest export earning sector of Bangladesh and currently positioned third just after China & Turkey. Knitwear export reached US$ 6.4 billion in FY 2008-09 which is about 42% of the national export earnings of Bangladesh. This sector not only contributes to the national economy through export earnings, but also through generating employment for about 1.2 million people of which 70% are female. BKMEA works as a guardian of the sector through various types of primary and development related activities like market promotion, policy research and guideline, productivity improvement of the sector, social compliance monitoring programme, skill development and many other labour welfare related issues.