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What financial inclusion obstacle are we supporting low-income people to navigate? What financial capability are we attempting to enable or develop? What – gives you access to MFO’s select publications organized around the content of a financial education curriculum or training manual. You can also gain access to the full set of Global Financial Education Program materials here.

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Boarding the Digital Lifeboat

In our first Garment Worker Diaries blog for 2021, Boarding the Digital Lifeboat, we focus on the support, and perceived support, that garment workers in Bangladesh received last year as their wages were digitized. In the Spring of 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic convinced the Bangladeshi government to send out monetary assistance payments to garment-producing factories, which would be passed on to workers. Among other factors, social distancing requirements obliged that these payments be paid out digitally, keeping workers from having to stand in line in close-quartered factories to receive cash payments. The Spring of 2020 would have marked the first time most of these workers received a digital wage instead of cash.


Businesses and governments can do a lot to ease that transition, and to instill trust in new processes. Our data suggest that there were support systems in place, but that perhaps the systems were not comprehensive enough to reach all workers; or, that the systems were not convincing enough to win the buy-in from all workers.


In a time when further government support for the garment industry (paid out digitally) may or may not be needed, there are important lessons to learn here about how factory managers and government officials can ensure that workers both acknowledge the assistance they are receiving, and are able to feel empowered to take part in a new way of life.


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November 2020 Update: Another Support Package for the Garment Industry?

In our final Garment Worker Diaries blog post for the year, November 2020 Update: Another Support Package for the Garment Industry?, we both summarize the status of the garment workers in our study through the end of November, and also discuss what some are predicting might be a tough winter for the RMG sector in Bangladesh.

In short, we aren’t seeing the signs of a second garment-production crisis as told to us through our respondents’ data. It might yet be just too early, and we might never see the signs if the government steps in to support the industry with a second stimulus package. But you can be sure that no matter what happens, our data will reflect what’s really going on among the workers, just as we captured the rapid uptick in digital wages in May, and the mini-prosperity the industry has buoyed upon over the summer and into the fall.

We do hope it will be a good winter, and a better year in 2021 for all.

In the meantime, take a look at where in the world, of all the places the garments they make are shipped to, garment workers would like to visit. Some of them would like to just stay home, which is completely relatable. If you have any questions for us, or the garment workers, please send them to questions@workerdiaries.org and we’ll be sure to pass them along.


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Keeping an Eye on the Gender Gap in Digital Empowerment

In this week’s Garment Workers Diaries blog we return to the theme of attitudes towards digital financial services as measured by customer empowerment and satisfaction.

As usual, we take care to mind the gap between female and male garment workers when it comes to feelings of positivity towards DFS. In our blog from a few weeks ago (“Cash or Bytes? Garment Workers’ Payment Preferences“) we demonstrated that female workers tend to prefer digital payments to cash payments less frequently than their male colleagues. For this week’s blog, we’ve tried to go a bit deeper to see if we can uncover any more hints as to why this might be the case.


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Announcing a New Partnership with Primark

MFO and South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM) are pleased to announce a new partnership with the international retailer Primark, that aims to strengthen the voice of garment workers throughout the company’s supply chain, in Bangladesh.

Primark is seeking to better understand the views, perspectives and workplace experiences of workers in a number of the company’s suppliers’ factories. Although the project will use MFO and SANEM’s “Garment Worker Diaries” (GWD) financial diaries methodology, whereby workers respond to a series of questions asked repeatedly over a defined period of time, this collaboration is separate to GWD and will use its own set of questions, a separate sample group, and a new and unique field team. By the completion of the project, Primark will have clearer, deeper, and direct knowledge of how workers feel and think about such topics as health and safety at the workplace, wages and bonuses, and retrenchment. The project will engage with 400 workers across various factories who will be recruited via community networks and who will be paid for their time. Finally, while the data from this project will not be made public, the project is rooted in our commitment to give voice and provide greater visibility to those who make our clothes.


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Factory Blogging: Two New Blogs from the Garment Worker Diaries

Garment-producing factories in Bangladesh are the unit of analysis in this week’s Garment Worker Diaries blogs. And yes, that’s correct, we’re publishing two blogs this week, in part to make up for taking a blogging holiday this week past.

We use factories as the unit of analysis less often and with great caution. One of the reasons we take such care analyzing factory-specific data is that factory names are notoriously difficult to verify. To that end, we’re publishing “What We Can Learn From Bangladeshi Factory Names“, written by our guest blogger Jonah Tauber who interned with us over the Summer. We hope that his blog will be able to accurately demonstrate for you some of the elemental frustration trying to standardize factory names creates!

In our second blog, we take a look at the evolution of digital pay within factories. Analyzing six months of data from April to September has yielded some interesting trends and possible correlations. As many factories begin reverting to cash wage payments since their unprecedented adoption of digital wage payments, it will be important to ask why this digital evolution was not longer-lived.


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