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Otto & Grameen JV to set up 'Factory of the Future' in Dhaka
16
Nov '09
The Otto Goup, Hamburg, the largest mail-order group in the world, and Grameen, have formed a joint venture to set up the Grameen Otto Textile Company. It will be set up as "The Factory of the Future" in Bangladesh and is the first company worldwide in the area of social business (type II), to work on a profit-oriented basis. The profit, though, is managed in a foundation, the Grameen Otto Trust, and serves exclusively to improve the living conditions of the employees, their families and sponsored communities.

The "Factory of the Future" will be set up in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, and will produce clothing for export, under socially and ecologically sustainable conditions. The ecologically-optimised, CO2 neutral building will be fitted with the most up-to-date insulation, energy-saving lighting and optimised air-conditioning systems, paying special attention to the use of renewable energies.

The aim of the project is to give the poor population in Bangladesh the opportunity to free themselves from poverty. Initially, between 500 and 700 people are to be employed, at an appropriate wage and with good social benefits.

Professor Muhammad Yunus adds, "Poor people do not ask for charity, as charity is not a solution for poverty. They want to work in order to earn their livelihood. The Grameen Otto Textile Company creates work for the poor. It will act as an example against poverty in the world."

The Otto Group grants an interest-free loan to cover the investment costs of setting up and running the factory. The loan will be paid back over a period of 10 to 15 years from the profits of the Grameen Otto Textile Company.

The profits will not be distributed as dividends to shareholders or investors, but will serve to expand and modernise the company and to pursue social objectives locally. In the first instance, profits shall be used to offer a healthy lunch for the employees, to carry out further education as well as health care and to set up a day-care centre for children offering pre-school classes. In addition, in the communities, assistance will be given in the health sector, for sanitary facilities and for the education and further education of the population. The project will be a beacon for socially and ecologically sustainable economic activity.

Dr. Michael Otto, Co-Initiator of the project and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Otto Group is confident: "The Grameen Otto Textile Company will show that it really is possible to reconcile ecological and social criteria with economic goals. It should become a model for textile production in Bangladesh and for similar factories all around the world."

The Grameen Otto Textile Company is to grow in a sustainable way. Expansion of the factory at the Dhaka site is planned for the second phase, and expansion within Bangladesh in other countries is possible in a third, long-term phase.

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