IFC organizes Africa-Asia Roadshow in Bangladesh

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has spearheaded an initiative to promote south-south cooperation, peer-learning, and joint ventures in the textile, apparel, and footwear sectors through an Africa-Asia roadshow.

With developing countries contributing the largest share in this rapidly growing segment, which is projected to reach $4.4 trillion by 2030 from $2.2 trillion in 2018, the roadshow aimed to facilitate meaningful cross-regional engagement, encourage low-carbon development, share know-how and technology, and uplift communities.

Under the initiative, a delegation of 25 chief executive officers (CEOs) and founders from major African and central Asian textile, apparel, and footwear companies, accompanied by representatives from prominent global brands, visited Bangladesh from June 18 to 19, said a press release.

Over 28 local garment manufacturers hosted them during their visit. Bangladesh is a leading garment production hub in the world which, before the COVID-19 pandemic, directly employed more than 4 million people, contributed about 8 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), and accounted for more than 80 percent of its export earnings.

IFC aims to assist countries and industries in becoming more diversified and competitive to leverage the emerging opportunities.

The roadshow provided a unique platform for African and Central Asian entrepreneurs to foster partnerships. By connecting CEOs and founders from different regions, the event encouraged the exchange of ideas and best practices, driving innovation and growth within the industry.

This initiative has garnered strong support from industry leaders. One of the participating CEOs, M. Ren, Silu,, managing director of Compagnie Ivoirienne pour le D,velopement des Textiles (CIDT) in C”te d’Ivoire, remarked, “This roadshow is a great opportunity for us at CIDT, to connect with our peers in South Asia, exchange insights, and explore possibilities for collaboration. We believe that by working together, we can create mutually beneficial relationships that will propel our businesses forward.”

IFC supports firms in improving sustainability and labor conditions to help increase their productivity, create more jobs, and boost economic growth.

“South Asia is one of the best examples of where more and better jobs have created profound change in people’s lives. Collaboration with Bangladesh is an opportunity for African businesses to capture more of these jobs, leveraging one of the fastest growing workforces in the world, coupled with world-class infrastructure. There is also an opportunity for transferring skills, connecting expertise, and improving market access – for which IFC has been supporting the manufacturing sector in Africa,” said Kyle Kelhofer, IFC senior country manager for Benin, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Togo, based in Accra, Ghana.

“Over the years, IFC has invested more than $7 billion in all sectors of the economy in Bangladesh. The world-class manufacturing sector is the backbone of this amazing country. Bangladesh has a strong internal market, as well as an incredible ready-made garment (RMG) export market, which is already approaching $50 billion a year,” said Martin Holtmann, IFC country manager for Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal.

Holtmann said in the RMG space, IFC and its partners have worked with more than 400 factories, helping improve resource efficiency, labor standards, decarbonization and more, with the garments sector being at the forefront of the green economy in Bangladesh.

“Moving forward, the real growth and development potential is in Asia and Africa. To make the most of this potential, we need stronger cooperation between emerging markets. Direct exchanges between leading entrepreneurs from Asia and Africa will help build collaboration and create stronger supply chains. IFC will support this cooperation as a partner and an investor,” he added.

In Bangladesh, IFC has been working for over a decade to enhance competitiveness and address environmental and social challenges in the garment sector.

IFC’s partnership for Cleaner Textile (PaCT) program is dedicated to building a green and resilient supply chain. Through PaCT, it has helped over 400 factories achieve significant results, including reducing freshwater consumption by 29.5 million m3/year, saving 3.4 million MWh/year in energy, reducing wastewater discharge by 24.8 million m3/year, and avoiding 649,972 tons of CO2 emissions.

PaCT also supports the competitiveness of the textile and apparel sector through interventions such as promoting product and market diversification.

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