SAI hosted a virtual launch event for FairCapacity, an innovative blockchain-enabled platform that helps manufacturers and buyers improve capacity and production planning, responsible sub-contracting, and purchasing practices.
Social Accountability International (SAI) and technology partner Vertru held a virtual launch event for the FairCapacity platform on Dec. 10, 2021, which brought together speakers from India’s Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC), the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Cloth Manufacturing Association of India (CMAI), the National Institute of Fashion Technology New Delhi, Neetee Exports, International Labor Organization (ILO) India, The Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS), and SAI. AEPC, the co-host for the event, represents over 7,000 apparel and accessories manufacturers/exporters and assists them with dissemination of market intelligence, conducting trade promotion activities, and addressing various issues and challenges faced by member exporters.
The FairCapacity Platform seeks to aid suppliers with their production capacity measurement and planning, encourage responsible sub-contracting, and help forge better buyer-supplier relationships. The Platform connects buyers and suppliers, giving buyers greater visibility into their supply chains and rewarding responsible suppliers with access to buyers. It includes a Production Capacity Calculator and a mechanism for improving capacity measurement and forecasting practices. Buyers and suppliers are now able to register for the platform and utilize the available features.
The FairCapacity launch event kicked off with keynote addresses from the AEPC, ICC-CMAI, GFEMS, and SAI. Keynote speakers emphasized how this platform and partnerships between brands and their suppliers can generate more responsible business practices and benefit the bottom line.
“Companies that proactively make sustainability a part of their business strategy will drive innovation. With these tools and platform, industries can effectively manage the risks and demonstrate the good compliance mechanisms in place.”said Dr. A. Sakthivel, AEPC Chairman
Similarly, Mr. Sanjay Jain, Chairman of ICC and Managing Committee Member of CMAI added,
“In today’s world of digitalisation, such a verified B2B platform will enhance trust, transparency, and credibility between importers and exporters.”Mr. Sanjay Jain, Chairman of ICC and Managing Committee Member of CMAI
Speakers also noted the platform’s potential to mitigate forced labor.
“We know that while apparel is a huge driver of economic development in many countries, rapid growth in countries’ production sectors is accompanied by a high risk of forced labor. We believe that this platform addresses the structural issues that drive forced labor, with the potential to drastically change fundamental practices in the apparel industry.”said Hope Spector, Senior Grant Programs Associate at GFEMS
The panel discussion, with representatives from industry apparel associations, suppliers and NGOs highlighted both the significance and challenges of adequate capacity planning in the garment sector in India. Panelists noted how the platform can help bridge the gap between buyers and suppliers using the build back better approach and blockchain technology, a major hallmark of FairCapacity.
“The weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the global apparel supply chain exposed during [the] pandemic has necessitated the industry to embrace innovative solutions and technology like never before. But a very important challenge is the cost, the accessibility, and the fact that it is not a replacement but a solution to the human resources we are lacking.”Prof. Girija Jha, Associate Professor at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi
Dr. Singhal, Secretary General of AEPC, addressed the cost of technology and government incentives for businesses:
“There is the technology upgradation Fund scheme wherein we enable the manufacturers to have incentives from the government for getting technology upgrades. There is huge opportunity for FDI and joint ventures for capacity building, technology upgradation, [and] creation of integrated infrastructure for the entire value chain.”
During the event, all participants and speakers were able to view a live demonstration of the FairCapacity platform’s functionalities. Panelists fielded questions from participants concerning how suppliers would be able to sign up and use the platform, how businesses can benefit from using the platform long-term, and the importance of businesses ensuring social responsibility in the supply chain.
“Transparency and accountability needs to be maintained throughout the supply chain. There should be respect for core labor standards to reduce decent work deficits.”Bharti Birla, Chief Technical Advisor at the ILO in India
Unlike other buyer-supplier platforms, FairCapacity will help factories and suppliers meet social compliance requirements, promote responsible subcontracting, increase consumer confidence, and demonstrate due diligence on forced labor, including at lower tiers of the supply chain. Even for those that do not have serious concerns about excessive work hours or unauthorized subcontracting in their supply chains, there are still many ways buyers and suppliers can benefit from this project. Learn more on SAI’s website.
The FairCapacity Platform is part of SAI’s Supplier Capacity Program, which aims to improve transparency and working conditions in the global apparel supply chain. SAI began the Supplier Capacity Program in Bangladesh in 2019 with the support of the European Commission and extended the program to India in 2020 with the support of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, UK Aid, and Norad.