SGRA Project in Bangladesh (May–June)

In accordance with fiscal 2014 plans for the SGRA (Supporting Grass-Roots Activities through the International Employers’ and Workers’ Network) project in Bangladesh confirmed in April, life support seminars (LSS) and training of trainers (TOT) seminars were held in the three districts where the project is being implemented: Bogra (Rajshahi division), Khulna (Khulna division), and Chittagong (Chittagong division). In addition, monitoring was carried out to ascertain present socio-economic situations of people who completed vocational training in those districts in fiscal 2013.
The life support seminars were attended by a total of 123 people in the three districts (including 38 women). These seminars provided information that is useful in improving the livelihood of informal-sector workers and boosted the motivation of participants to undergo vocational training. For example, Assistant Director Mr. Ekramul Hoque of the Skill Development Division of Thengamara Mohila Sabuj Sangha (TMSS), a nongovernment women’s development organization working in the rural villages of Bangladesh, gave a talk on the usefulness of networking skills. The speaker explained that networks of human relations with local governments, companies and communities function as social safety nets which provide many benefits in finding work after vocational training, obtaining advice on business startups, and sharing information on public support. Furthermore, the speaker talked about the effectiveness of savings, explaining that savings meant sustained investment as livelihood improvement resources and emphasizing the significance of circulating funds (saving jointly) for your own family, for poor people, and for the community.
In addition, as evidence that the project is steadily achieving results, 14 people gave reports on the improvement of their livelihoods since their completion of vocational training in fiscal 2013. For example, a female graduate of personal computer training, who did not have a regular job before she took the training, opened a PC class with a friend who has a computer, and her monthly income has risen to 4,000–5,000 taka (about 5,240–6,550 yen); a male graduate of welding training, who had been a day laborer at construction sites before the training, found a regular job at a welding plant after the training, and his monthly income has risen to about 9,000 taka (about 11,790 yen); and a female graduate of sewing training started a business in March 2013 with a loan of 150,000 taka (about 196,500 yen) and at present has sales of about 7,000 taka (about 9,170 yen) from order-made clothing and about 30,000 taka (about 39,300 yen) from fabric wholesalers (photos 10, 11, and 12). Their stories greatly boosted the motivation of the participants.
The training of trainers seminars, meanwhile, were attended by a total of 49 people in the three districts (of whom 19 were women), including regional working group members. Necessary information was provided on the premise of building independent mutual-aid organizations. For example, secretaries of district cooperative departments in the areas concerned gave details about conditions for the establishment of cooperatives and their management, explaining that (1) at least 6 steering committee members and at least 20 cooperative members (aged 18 years or over; including steering committee members) are required for registering the formation of a cooperative (somobaye); (2) cooperative members must purchase at least one share (price determined by steering committee); and (3) if an application is submitted in the name of an existing organization, the cooperative can be set up regardless of place of residence or occupation of its members. In addition, TMSS Assistant Director Mr. Ekramul Hoque, touching on the secrets of the TMSS’s success, advised that (1) continuing to benefit members is important for the cooperative’s independence and (2) begin with small business or cottage industries rooted in daily life and emphasizing appropriate market needs.
Finally, six working group members expressed sincere gratitude for JILAF’s cooperation so far and requested the participants to go beyond the BC6 framework and cooperate as a SGRA team in order to improve the livelihood of poor people.

※1 taka = 1.31 yen (as of July 3, 2014)

Schedule

DateContents
05/25SunLife support seminar (Bogra)
*Lecture on “The Importance of Networking”
*Lecture on “Introduction to Vocational Training”
*Reports by vocational training graduates, etc.
05/26MonTraining of trainers seminar (Bogra)
*“Outline of How to Establish a Cooperative”
*“Introduction to Entrepreneur Development,” etc.
05/27TueMeeting
05/28WedLife support seminar (Khulna)
*Lecture on “The Importance of Networking”
*Lecture on “Introduction to Vocational Training”
*Reports by vocational training graduates, etc.
05/29ThuTraining of trainers seminar (Khulna)
*“Outline of How to Establish a Cooperative”
*“Introduction to Entrepreneur Development,” etc.
05/30FriMeeting
05/31SatLife support seminar (Chittagong)
*Lecture on “The Importance of Networking”
*Lecture on “Introduction to Vocational Training”
*Reports by vocational training graduates, etc.
06/01SunTraining of trainers seminar (Chittagong)
*“Outline of How to Establish a Cooperative”
*“Introduction to Entrepreneur Development,” etc.

Photos of Participants

Bogra LSS lecture on “The Importance of Networking”

Bogra LSS lecture on “Introduction to Vocational Training”

Report by a vocational training graduate in Bogra

Bogra TOT lecture on “Outline of How to Establish a Cooperative”

Khulna LSS participants

Report by a vocational training graduate in Khulna

Khulna TOT lecture on “Outline of How to Establish a Cooperative”

Chittagong LSS lecture on “Introduction to Vocational Training”

Chittagong TOT lecture on “Introduction to Entrepreneur Development”

A sewing shop in Chittagong opened by a vocational training graduate

The owner of the sewing shop in Chittagong

Some products of the sewing shop in Chittagong