Ethical Corporation shortlists Primark for ‘Most Effective International Community Investment’ award

25 September 2015

Primark is pleased to announce that Ethical Corporation has shortlisted Primark for its ‘Most Effective International Community Investment’ category of the 2015 Responsible Business Awards.

This shortlisting recognises the work Primark has carried out with BRAC bank in Bangladesh to develop financial literacy and inclusion for the recipients of financial compensation from Primark, following the Rana Plaza building collapse.

Notes to Editors:

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster Primark provided food aid and $2 million in short-term financial aid to everyone who had been in Rana Plaza building, or their dependents, irrespective of whether they worked for Primark’s supplier or for one of the other suppliers in the building making clothing for competitors.

In order to receive financial aid, workers, or their dependents, needed to register. Given most recipients didn’t have a bank account Primark’s partnership with bKash, a BRAC bank company, was fundamental in delivering transparent and secure payments to individuals. To receive a payment, recipients needed to own a mobile phone. If a recipient didn’t own a phone, Primark gave them one. Through bKash’s facility over 3,500 families received payments from Primark.

Primark also committed to providing $11 million in long-term compensation to the 672 workers of New Wave Bottoms (its supplier), or their dependents.

After developing and implementing vulnerability assessments, based on WHO methodology and tailored to the Bangladesh context, we learnt that many of the people we were supporting had little or no experience of the banking system, had low levels of literacy, and limited knowledge of their rights.

In partnership with BRAC, and a number of other organisations, Primark decided to hold an event to give long-term compensation recipients independent information and advice on how to manage, and protect their money. The aim was to empower vulnerable individuals to discuss financial management and to make informed decisions.

It was held in Dhaka over 17 days and over 751 people attended.

Daily at the Mela (‘fair’), Kamrul Hasan from BRAC Bank, delivered an interactive lecture on the savings options available (including Government Bonds). He explained how bank accounts worked and how they offered a safe and secure option for savings. Attendees also received specially designed picture books on the basics of banking, interest and maturity rate explanations, and a how-to guide on withdrawing money.

Participants spent the day considering many of the options available, along with the associated challenges, such as buying land, starting a business or saving money.

At the end of each day everyone was given the time and support to develop their own financial plan for their future. BRAC Bank sat with each and every person to discuss their plans.

For the first time ever BRAC bank offered individuals the opportunity to open savings accounts using fingerprint technology, ensuring the inclusion of the illiterate.

At the end of the event 96% of attendees had opened a savings account, including everyone responsible for a child receiving money. Recipients committed over $8.7 million of their compensation to their own savings accounts.

Six months after the event Primark interviewed 180 participants for their feedback.
67% said that the event had taught them how to keep their money safe
78% found the booklets easy to understand
77% subsequently used the booklets in their daily life
95% said the knowledge they acquired from the event helped them to solve various problems in their everyday life

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