Our relationship with our producers, BRAC-Aarong

Established in 1972, BRAC is the largest Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in the world, employing 90,000 people.  It supports and protects the livelihoods of over 70% (100 million) of Bangladesh’s population through its social, health, employment and education programs. Only 20% of BRAC’s funds come from donations via development partners (through organizations such as AusAid), while the remaining 80% is self-funded through commercial projects set up by BRAC.  In 1976, BRAC started a program to train impoverished women in handicraft skills, from which “Aarong” was born.  Aarong is the retail venture that organizes the network of artisans that produce BANG consortium’s products.

Aarong is a commercial retail venture that focuses on providing sustainable employment for up to 35,000 rural Bangaldeshi artisans, 85% of whom are women.  It was established in 1978 to ensure spot payment for handicraft goods made and to market the traditional skills and handicrafts of the Bangladeshi people.  Literally translated, Aarong means “village fair”.  Working alongside Aarong to produce the goods it sells is the Ayesha Abed Foundation, established in 1981, which runs 9 main production centres and 282 sub-centres to channel materials and quality control expertise throughout Bangladesh, employing over 15,000 workers who are paid on the spot for their output and given on-the-job training to become registered workers, the benefits of which include participation in a retirement fund, medical clinics etc. The final piece in Aarong’s production chain are 20,000 independent artisans in 800 locations, to whom Aarong provides design and product development expertise, payment on delivery, quality control and working capital loans.  Aarong’s products are sold through their many retail stores located throughout Bangladesh, and also through a London retail store - click here.

Aarong exports 6% of its annual production capacity mainly to North America and Europe, to customers such as Oxfam.  Aarong is in the process of registering with the international fair trade body IFAT as a fair-trade handicraft producer.  To learn more about IFAT, click here

Our jute bags are currently made at Rishilpi and the making of our cotton bags involves several production locations through Bangaldesh, depending on the detailed needlework and printing involved. 

At BANG consortium we are proud to have created new products and a new market in Australia for the beautiful hand-crafted goods produced by the network of artisans involved in this wonderful organization.

What is Fair Trade?

To learn more about the fair trade movement in Australia, visit The Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand (FTAANZ) is the industry organization responsible for administering the fairtrade licensing and labelling system in Australia, which is based on international standards.  At present, this system applies only to produce-based goods (tea, coffee, sugar, rice, quinoa, cocoa, chocolate, cotton) and sports balls.  Fair trade handicraft organizations (such as our producers, BRAC-Aarong) are currently registered under a separate system administered by an international body, IFAT.  FTAANZ has recently become a member of IFAT in the Asia-pacific region, and will be more closely involved with both produce and handicraft-related fair-trade labelling and licensing systems from 2007.