Mitali Group: a role model for women empowerment  initiatives

adv-06

Mohammad Nurul Alam

MitaIi Group, a premier garments-manufacturing company in Bangladesh that was established in 2000, specializes in knit and fleece quality garments products. The energetic management and dedicated professional team make MitaIi an excellent sourcing hub for international brands, while Mitali has proven itself to be an unparalleled manufacturing name in the country. With more than two million pieces of production capacity ranging from Men’s, Women’s and Kid’s wear, Mitali currently consists of a skilled workforce of around 10,000 men and women, out of which approximately 85% are female.

Photo: Tania Ahmed, Director, Operation, Mitali Group

As part of regular interaction with the RMG leaders, Textile Focus had a discussion with two dynamic female leaders from the management of MitaIi Group who are actively involved in the operations of the company and have earned their position as influential figures in the day-to-day running of the business.

Tania Ahmed, Director, Operation, Mitali Group, joined the family business in November 2012 and earlier gained extensive personal and professional experience through her corporate experience at Grameenphone. She completed her  Post-Graduation in Economics from Dhaka University.  She is an embodiment of success, her determination and sheer intellect make her an iconic example of woman leadership in the apparel industry of Bangladesh.

Photo: Maisha Abdullah, Director, Mitali Group

Maisha Abdullah, Director, Mitali Group, completed her LLB from Queen Mary, University of London and Bar Vocational Course (Law) from City University, University of London. Apart from being a Barrister-at-law, she is also an enrolled advocate in the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, where she had practiced for several years before joining the family apparel business. Her confidence, determination and vision of the future are examples of the renewed vigor of the next generation of the industry. Having made a shift in her career from law practice to apparel manufacturing, Maisha jokingly remarks that the apparel business is in her blood and it was an inevitable shift that was bound to happen one day.

In the long conversation, Textile Focus spoke to them about the present situation of the industry, geo-political impacts on business, as well as future prospects of the Bangladesh RMG sector. Another major topic of conversation was how MitaIi Group is working towards women empowerment within the organization and how industry players can encourage further women’s immersion in the managerial roles of the sector.

According to Tania Ahmed, overcoming the present crisis situation of Bangladesh’s RMG sector is possible by collaboration and collective efforts. She says “The major challenges of Bangladesh RMG industry today can only be realistically resolved and overcome when there is true collaboration among the manufacturers”. She further adds “We need to come together as one industry to solve our internal issues”. She expressed her concern regarding many factories running at less than 30% capacity due to order crisis, and that too at unreasonable and unfeasible prices due to increasing costs.

Tania urges that RMG manufacturers need to adopt a long-term approach by investing more in research and development and in new growth areas and specialized products. She said, “Though our RMG industry gained a 50 billion dollar benchmark, we have to strive towards strengthening our position in the supply chain, so as to have better leverage to attract better prices and being in a better bargaining position with the buyers, and such can only be possible by working on our manufacturing strengths “.

She mentions that Bangladesh’s RMG industry is the driving force of our country’s economy that generates the highest employment which directly creates a positive impact on our overall economic situation of the country. She further expressed her pride in being part of the apparel industry which is generating the largest contribution to society and economy.

The post-COVID-19 period and the economic downturn caused by the Russia-Ukraine war in the apparel business is now at a crossroads having both opportunities and challenges, opined Tania Ahmed. “Due to the potential threat of a global recession, brands and buyers began taking cautionary steps to place orders, but alongside many of our factories are going for the new expansion to produce innovative products”. She added that Mitali Group has always emphasized strongly on innovation and diversification for sustainable business.

A glimpse of the women leadership in the management structure of Mitali Group.

Maisha Abdullah, Director, MitaIi Group expressed her views in regards to women empowerment in the RMG industry and shared how she shifted career paths in the apparel business from the law profession. She said “The Bangladesh apparel industry is currently employing more than 4 million people in the country, out of which 85% are women. As a result, these factory-working women have earned themselves a high status as the driving force of the industry contributing significantly to the country’s economy”.

She further added that despite being the production driver of the industry, a woman has to overcome many challenges at home and at her workplace. She has to face various hurdles and unfavorable circumstances that at times, prevent her from taking on leadership roles. Maisha states “This is the biggest barrier for the female in the RMG sector- to enroll herself in leadership roles and build her career beyond the production floor”. Maisha adds that an example of this occurred a few months ago at her factory when they recommended five women from their production unit for a scholarship program at a well-reputed educational institution. However, sadly enough, none of the women were allowed by their families to participate in the program.

However, despite these hurdles, Maisha is optimistic that the women of today’s Bangladesh are much stronger and able to overcome impediments more constructively. She believes that woman empowerment at the grassroots level starts by increasing self-esteem, self-confidence and a sense of self-worth”. In this context, MitaIi Group strongly encourages its female employees to reach higher potential by gaining in-depth practical experience and knowledge, and eventually enrolling for leadership roles in the organization.

When asked about her thoughts on the second generation entering the apparel manufacturing industry, Maisha states “Our fathers have toiled for long years, building factories and a customer base from scratch. They sowed the seeds and have been watering the soil, so that we can now reap the benefits”. She adds “My father knows the factories like the back of his hand, because he built it himself brick by brick. We, the next generation, are blessed to have been handed ready-made factories and decades-long customers. Now it is our responsibility to take the industry forward”.