Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)
Berendina provides employment to ex-garment industry workers, housewives
Evolving from Berendina’s programme to find sub contracting work for rural youth and women, Berendina Development Services (BDS) commenced the operation of its newly formed garment factory in Kegalle region in January 2013. This is the first “not for Profit” garment industry in the Island created with the key objective of providing employment to the ex-garment workers who are either currently unemployed due to returning to their villages to get married. Located at Bulathkohupitiya, the garment factory provides employment for 70 ex-garment workers residing in the vicinity and hopes to expand this amount to 250 by August 2013.
Specialized in the production of l adies wear, the management maintains the quality standard to AQL 4.0. By providing employment to ex-garment factory workers and housewives, BDS aims to rejuvenate the village economy. Locating a garment factory closer to their homes, enables the village housewives to travel to work from their homes and not disrupting their family lives by been relocated elsewhere. BDS hopes to expand this project based on success and give employment to a further number of women.
The business is owned by Bulathkohupitiya Co-operative which was formed by Berendina and given leadership by the NGO. The capital has been contributed by the Co-operative and by Berendina as a loan to the co-operative. All workers are members of the co-operative and Berendina does not take a share of profit. Thus, this is an example of a Social Business as advocated by Prof. Yunus of Grameen fame. The girls are highly motivated as they are aware that any future profits will be shared among them and not by few owners.
BDS has been liaising with private sector companies to work through sub-contracting arrangements in rural areas to provide full and part time work for youth and housewives. With the ever increasing demand for production of various products and the expansion of various business activities, BDS has partnered 21 companies over the time including 4 BOI companies.
The production centres are managed by cooperative societies formed in the area by the employed youth and women and supported by BDS. Currently, over 300 housewives and youth are benefited by sub-contracting employment, excluding the newly formed garment factory. Other businesses Berenindna’s co-operatives have partnered include computer parts, gem cutting, artificial flowers and car seat belt parts all for export companies. The model here is to provide incentives for private sector companies to provide sub-contracting work for women and youth both in production centres and at home.