We are excited to announce that SAI has received a €625,000 grant from the European Commission to develop a technology that will incentivize good purchasing practices by brands and improve transparency in apparel supply chains.
Even as brands are increasingly aware of and motivated to improve working conditions and human rights in their supply chains, outdated and deeply entrenched industry practices often undermine those intentions. Common purchasing practices—like unpredictable ordering and persistent price cuts—force unsustainable costs to suppliers. To stay in business in the face of these pressures, suppliers often pass those costs on to workers in the form of excessive overtime, diminished wages, and unsafe working conditions. These practices coupled with the widespread use of intermediaries that decrease supply chain visibility contribute to pervasive illegal subcontracting, often to unregulated facilities with far worse conditions.
SAI has always promoted mutual ownership over workplace conditions between brands and suppliers in our work with companies on both sides of the supply chain. But working with individual companies or within single supply chains does little to move the needle on systemic problems. This grant from the EU will allow SAI to convene stakeholders across the supply chain in collaborative problem solving around these deeply ingrained practices; bringing together brands, suppliers, and workers to co-create a solution.
We envision an online platform that will help suppliers track capacity and productivity based on a realistic understanding of how working hours, productivity, sourcing practices, and other variables affect each other in the supply chain. Buyers could then use the platform to connect with suppliers that have capacity to take on new orders without overloading their workforce or resorting to illegal subcontracting. We hope the product will be an early, practical demonstration of how new technologies like blockchain can be used to advance human rights in supply chains.
Over the next year, SAI with our technology partner, Sundar, will facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogue and conduct technical consultations to design and build the technology. Once the initial product is ready to test, we will run a pilot with volunteers from European apparel brands and their suppliers in Bangladesh. This project will take place over a three-year period, with the goal of rolling out the final product on a wider scale after the test period.
Co-funded by the European Union