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Dutch bag brand sets up Fairtrade production in Bangladesh

MYoMy makes luxury handbags in India in a responsible manner. The brand is very successful, which explains why the Dutch company has now opened a second production location in Bangladesh. "Without prefinancing from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency's International Financing programme, I would not have taken this step."

Video: watch the interview with Marja Baas and Taslima Miji

Good working and living conditions

Marja Baas, the owner of MYoMy, noticed that manufacturers in the fashion industry did not always follow the principles of corporate social responsibility – far from it, in fact. "I saw an opportunity to contribute in that area by making luxury handbags. That was the start of 'MYoMy do goods', a brand that makes sustainable leather bags and accessories. MYoMy focuses on good working and living conditions at the local production facilities in India and Bangladesh."

Tannery in Bangladesh

In 2017, the growth of the MYoMy brand created a need for a second production location. Marja read a research report about the awful conditions in the leather industry in Bangladesh. "I asked the author of the report if he knew of a project that could use some extra support," Marja says. The author directed her to Taslima Miji, a female entrepreneur who owns a small tannery in Bangladesh. "I was aware of the terrible working conditions there, as well as the oppression faced by women. I wanted to make a difference."

Setting up a production line

After an initial test order, Baas decided to continue working with Taslima. "But setting up a new production line for leather bags calls for huge amounts of time and money. I knew this because of my existing partnership in India. That was an experience I was not at all eager to repeat."

Prefinancing via the Dutch Good Growth Fund

At a conference in Albania, Marja found herself talking to an adviser from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. They told her about the possibilities for support from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency's International Financing programme. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency provides support to Dutch businesses looking to invest in or import goods from developing countries. MYoMy benefited from the Dutch Good Growth Fund Technical Assistance programme. "It allowed me to pay for consultants of my choosing, who I hired to buy the hides and provide training and coaching to Taslima and her employees. I also received prefinancing for the first shipping container of bags."

New jobs

Together, MYoMy and Taslima were able to set up a full-fledged production line in ten months’ time. The bags are now being sold in 200 stores in the Netherlands and abroad. "It's a dream come true. Especially because we've now given nearly 45 people jobs in a safe, protected environment in Bangladesh. Over half of them are women. We can adjust this number at any time based on demand. Without the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, I would not have taken this step." The expectation is that this business will grow into a leading manufacturer, offering hundreds of people a safer future.

Would you like to know more?

The Netherlands Enterprise Agency supports MYoMy via the Dutch Good Growth Fund Technical Assistance programme (DGGF TA). This fund helps Dutch companies that do business with developing countries and emerging markets to become successful.

If you are looking for financing for your international investment, send us an email. Our advisers will happily contact you to provide advice based on your specific situation, without obligation.