Living Blue is a business cooperative that emerged from this traditional CARE economic development work. As a social enterprise jointly owned by workers, artisans, and CARE Enterprise Inc., Living Blue employs 240 artisans and provides supplemental incomes to 2,700 farmers across five districts in the greater Rangpur region of Bangladesh. Living Blue has been developing and selling high quality products including scarves, stoles, shawls, home textiles, and hand bags – all coloured with organic dye extracted from locally cultivated indigo leaves. With the additional income, poor families have been able to provide education for their children and improve the nutrition status of the household.
Living Blue has been endorsed by:
Living Blue creates employment opportunities by Employing artisans and farmers in Bangladesh to develop and sell high quality products using locally cultivated indigo leaves.
Rangpur, part of the northwestern region of Bangladesh has one of the lowest (less than $2 a day) per capita income rates, the situation is further exacerbated by limited income opportunities pushing households to depend heavily on subsistence farming. Seasonal and traditional agriculture has not been able to afford three square meals, let alone the capacity to invest on health education and other basic necessities by these households. Lack of local industries and alternate livelihoods options meant that they were not able to hope for a better future for themselves and their future generations.
CARE, through its program (Living Blue) in addressing poverty in the northwest of Bangladesh, identified two opportunities that could be connected into an alternate livelihoods option for thousands of poor households. The region historically had developed a natural skill base among its women in creating handmade home textiles and other textile products particularly using quilting and hand stitching techniques. On the other hand, CARE identified an opportunity to generate additional income to thousands of indigo farmers, by creating added value out of indigo dye extracted from indigo leaves. There were many virtues to build on, as indigo is cultivated between two main crops as buffer, fixes nitrogen in the soil and its stems are used as firewood. The idea then got further extended to think through a complete value chain from indigo cultivation to developing indigo dyed specialty products through local artisans and eventually finding high end international fashion markets for those products.
We are seeking USD400,000 grant. The fund will be utilized over a two year period, for:
- strengthening governance structure by raising capacity of the artisans and producers' cooperative through targeted training and exposures for effective participation in policy development, management dialogue, leadership and decision making
-on-boarding new local designers and product developers, through training and exposures to international designers and markets
- product development and marketing promotions to expand the product base and explore new market segments, using an approach to work with local/international design houses, designers and sales agents in international markets
- innovate and develop new base fabrics and manufacturing sources, both local and international
- introduction of new appropriate technologies, in updating production processes and facilities like dyeing and embroidery.
- Impact Measurement: Development of framework and measurement plan for social and economic impact.
Seeking support of:
Types of Financing: Grant
Non-Financial Support: Impact Measurement
Beneficiaries: People in poverty, Women and girls
Sectors: Agriculture, Employability, Livelihood and poverty alleviation
Contact Person from AVPN member:
Saif M M Islam
Private Sector Engagement Coordinator