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Australian High Commissioner hails the ‘incredible success’ of Living Blue
September 22, 2015
The Australian High Commissioner to Bangladesh has praised the growth and effectiveness of Living Blue, a social business initiated by CARE Bangaldesh.
Visiting the Nijera Cottage and Village Industries (NCVI) in the village of Rajendrapur in Rangpur Sadar on 21 September, His Excellence Mr Greg Wilcock learned about the production of natural indigo and the way that Living Blue utilizes this indigenous plant to create a luxury fashion product and a successful business run by local men and women. He congratulated the businesspeople on their ‘incredible success’.
Living Blue was founded in 2008 by 200 extremely poor people, mostly women, to use local cultural knowledge to address the lack of economic opportunities in this underprivileged region. The artisan members grow and extract the indigo, then dye, craft and trade the products. Visiting the farms and factories, the High Commissioner was fascinated by the process of turning this plant into high-quality, handmade textiles. Artisans at Living Blue use the local stitching tradition to create kanthas (known locally as khetas), scarves, stoles and shawls over several months: each piece is a hand-dyed and completely unique work of art.
The Board of Directors and artisans shared their stories about how the initiative has created numerous vocations and jobs for poor people in the area – including plant cultivators, indigo dye extractors, manufacturers, dyers and quilters.
They also explained that, in this unusual social enterprise, the artisans not only get a fair wage and democratically manage and run their own businesses, but also have total control over profits.
The surplus generated contributes to the general well-being of local communities and help to create sustainable social, cultural and economic life. The workers described the way profits are used for the growth and expansion of the organization, the welfare of the workers’ and artisans’ families, and the welfare of the artisans themselves: their health is especially well taken care of. As in previous years, Living Blue has organized an Eye Camp, in which the organization offers the artisan assessments of any eye problems, and bears all costs of treatment.
Sumanto Kumar, the NCVI Chairman, and Salma Begum, the NCVI Managing Director described the organisation’s startling growth. Living Blue is now exporting their luxury products and natural indigo to the USA, France, Japan, Australia, Canada and India. After starting small, they are now operating in 5 Districts – Rangpur, Dinajpur, Nilphamari, lalmonirhat and Gaibandha, and around 2,000 households are directly benefiting.
‘Our dream is to create employment for 20,000 extremely poor in the future, Mr Kumar added. The High Commissioner thanked NCVI and all others involved in establishing and growing this social enterprise.

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