Responsible & Accountable Garment Sector Challenge Fund
The Responsible and Accountable Garment Sector (RAGS) Challenge Fund supports projects aimed at improving conditions of vulnerable workers in the readymade garment (RMG) production sector. The fund aims to benefit workers in low and lower-middle-income countries in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa that supply the UK market.
The aim of RAGS is to make responsible and ethical production the norm in the garment manufacturing sector supplying the UK. RAGS grants matching funds to NGOs, both for-profit and not-for-profit, associated with labour conditions in the garment sector in poorer African and Asian countries supplying the UK market. This includes private businesses, trade unions and members of both ethical and fair trade movements.
RAGS supports projects that aim to develop or scale up responsible labour practices beyond a single workplace. The seven key areas of intervention that RAGS funds are as follows:
1. Building skills in garment production management: building the capabilities of RMG garments managers and homeworkers in poorer countries in a variety of areas, including production planning, quality management, and the organisation of production lines.
2. Adopting better people management skills: building the skills and capacity of managers in RMG factories in poorer countries to adopt better people management systems and better industrial relations.
3. Harmonising codes and audit requirements: harmonising or standardising private and retailer codes so that one audit is recognised by many buyers.
4. Building awareness of workers’ rights and the capacity to enforce them: empowering women and other vulnerable workers to claim their worker rights through a variety of ways including improvements in collective organisation and knowledge of relevant labour laws, and improved capacity to negotiate and mediate with management.
5. Strengthening local audit capacity: improving the skills and capacity of labour inspectors in the countries of intervention to ensure factories and workplaces comply with national and international labour standards.
6. Capacity building and reach on fair trade principles: building awareness of fair trade principles in the UK and in the country of intervention concerned by improving the quality and design of products made by women and vulnerable RMG workers.
7. Developing of training tools to assist replication and expansion of effective approaches: designing and delivering of training and capacity building initiatives to workers and managers in order to replicate or scale up existing activities.
Areas not covered by RAGS
RAGS does not support projects aimed at improving working conditions in raw materials and fibre production, the wider textiles sector, footwear and accessories, and leather goods other than clothing. Similarly, RAGS does not support projects addressing other social responsibility concerns, such as environmental issues, or proposals aimed at improving the working conditions of non-vulnerable workers.
RAGS is funded by UKaid from the Department for International Development (DFID). Grants are made to companies, NGOs or trade unions who commit to demonstrating sustainable improvements in the working conditions of garment workers in countries supplying the UK market
Funds are made available on a cost-sharing basis. This means that for every grant made the grant holder (company, NGO or trade union) must match public funds with their own finance or in-kind contribution.
Call for Proposals
A call for grant applications took place in 2010 and approved projects from this call are currently being implemented.
The fund supports initiatives in poorer African and Asian countries supplying the UK market and is open to companies, trade unions and NGOs working to improve labour conditions in the garment sector. The fund promotes ethical trading principles, but also includes some projects which work specifically in Fairtrade certified supply chains.
RAGS projects are led by:
1) ActionAid, Bangladesh
2) Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI)
3) Global March Against Child Labour
4) International Textile Garment and Leather Workers Federation
5) Monsoon Accessorize Limited
6) One World Action
7) People Tree Foundation
8) Social Accountability International
9) Tesco Stores Limited
10) Women Working Worldwide
11) Skillshare International
RAGS supports projects located in low-income and lower-middle-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia (excluding China). Projects supported to date are being implemented in the following countries:
Most projects commenced in December 2010 and their lengths range from 2 to 2.5 years. All projects are expected to end by 31 May 2013.
Values of projects and grant size
RAGS provides grants ranging from £50,000 to £250,000. Eleven (11) projects valued at some £3.9 million have been approved to date in which DFID is funding over half (54%) or £2.1 million of their total costs. The average size of a project supported by RAGS is £352,000, in which £189,000 is the average amount of matched funding committed by DFID per project.
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