Zimbabwe’s clothing and textile experts learning from Bangladesh’s experience.

July 28, 2022

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Fashion Council Zimbabwe jointly organized a talk session on Bangladesh’s Ready-Made Garment and Textile Industry at the National Arts Gallery. The event was attended by business leaders from Cotton procedures, Clothing Manufactures, Textile, Fashion Designers, and Arts & Creatives. UNDP facilitated the visit of the guest speaker of Dr. Rubbana Huq, a female business leader, and former President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA).

The sector acted as a catalyst for the development of Bangladesh, it started off in the 1980s with 384 factories, 120 000 workers, and USD $31 million worth of exports. Ever since then, Bangladesh has grown its economy to be the second largest exporter of ready-made garments in the world, exporting to 163 counties.

Dr. Rubana Huq shared a story of the resilience of the private sector, the lack of women empowerment, and the transition of Bangladesh to a middle-income economy through its Ready-Made Garments Industry.

She highlighted much on the importance of having sustainable business models and global business linkages “It is time and best for all businesses to engage in Business to Consumer (B2C) trading”. 

Participants discussed specific barriers they are facing in accessing raw materials, loans, and access to the global market highlighting the need for collaborative efforts by the Government, Associations, and the Private Sector in support of the local industry.

The increase in the imports of second-hand clothing was one of the key issues discussed, being among the major causes of the industry’s downfall.
“In Zimbabwe, we are a nation of consumers, there are hardly any clothes or fabric manufactured here and we are much dependent on imports. There is a need for control measures to be put in place to protect and promote the growth of our local industry”.  *Dialogue participant 

Mia Seppo, UNDP Resident Representative speaking on the shared vision between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe to become middle-income economies with pressing emphasis on the importance of supporting local designers, said” UNDP is looking into partnering with the Fashion Council Zimbabwe on #WearZim Campaign”

Speaking during the event, Hon. Jenipher Mlanga, Ministry of Women Affairs, Small & Medium Enterprises, Deputy Minister said, “It is important as Zimbabweans to learn from the experiences of other developing countries and the garment industry is very key for development”. 

The clothing industry in Zimbabwe can bring not only a livelihood income but can also be an engine for wealth creation. 

The industry have experienced difficulties over the past decade, operating below its full capacity which is leading to the closure of an increasing number of textile companies in the country and increasing the demand for imports which have had negative impacts on the local manufacturing sector.