Managers from 4 factories joined SMART Myanmar’s new “Chemical Management & Detox Accelerator” program
On August 21st SMART Myanmar launched a 6 month advanced chemical management training program for garment and textile factories in Myanmar. The training is using a curriculum developed by the Promotion of Social and Environmental Standards in the Industry (PSES) project. PSES is a joint project of the governments of Bangladesh and Germany, implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, which works on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
“GIZ has been immensely cooperative and practical. They have provided us with expertise and knowledge resources which PSES developed over more than 10 years time. With this program we aim to help Myanmar dodge the environmental destruction which so many of the world’s other garment and textile industries have faced” said Mr. Jacob A. Clere, SMART Myanmar Team Leader.
SMART Myanmar is the largest not-for-profit technical training initiative in Myanmar’s industrial sector. Funded by the European Union and co-funded by the German government, the project has trained hundreds of managers and dozens of garment factories on various social and environmental topics. The Chemical Management & Detox program is the newest addition to the project’s several on-site consultancy and training modules.
Mr. Omar Faruq, National Expert from GIZ PSES in Dhaka led the first 3 training sessions on August, 22nd, 23rd and 24th. Site visits were thereafter conducted at 3 of the participating factories to assess them on chemical inventory management, personal protective equipment use, compliance with Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals criteria (ZDHC) and in general evaluating how close they are to achieving international best practices.
Work with the participating factories will be continued for the next several months. In addition, Mr. Faruq is intensively training 3 of SMART’s 10 technical experts in a “training of trainers module” to transfer his expertise on chemical management to the Myanmar garment industry.
The chemical management program also meets the interest of European based multi-stake-holder initiatives, such as the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles. “We are very happy to be able to extend our factory improvement programs and train our staff in chemical management in cooperation with the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles.” said Ms. Julia Dittenhauser, sequa Project Director.
Myanmar’s garment, textile and footwear industry has grown at an average rate of 6-7 new factories per month for the previous 4 years. The SMART project team has more frequently encountered chemical management issues as new wet processing facilities set-up in Myanmar. Ineffective regulatory oversight is creating a potentially dangerous situation for Myanmar’s rivers and watersheds, as some factories skirt the law. As well, chemical intensive washing, dyeing and printing factories present new occupational health and safety risks for employees as well as the local environment.
“During this training I can learn everything clearly… previously I saw many “danger” and “warning” signs in my factory, but I only understand one thing, which is about fire safety. This training is very useful for me and very valuable for me. I now think we have to practice how to properly manage the chemical inventory and labeling. Now, what we are doing is not enough. After this training I know so many new things which I have to do in my factory, especially about gloves, masks, chemical inventory management and storage.” – Statement from factory participant.
SMART Myanmar and the project Social and Labour Standards in the Textile and Garment Sector in Asia (SLSG), implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, which works on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) jointly organized a half-day seminar on labour laws most relevant for factories in Myanmar. Although initially aiming to host about 70 managers and staff, over 200 individuals attended to hear lawyers from Luther Law firm answer questions on existing labour laws in Myanmar.
“Attendance at the seminar far exceeded our expectations. I believe most factories are interested to comply with Myanmar’s existing labour laws, but it is often not simple. Sometimes laws are inconsistently applied and this can create immense confusion for factory managers. We hope today brought some added consistency and clarity.” said Mr. Jacob A. Clere, SMART Myanmar Team Leader.
SMART Myanmar is the largest not-for-profit technical training initiative in Myanmar’s industrial sector. Funded by the European Union and co-funded by the German government, the project has trained hundreds of managers and dozens of garment factories on various social and environmental topics. The legal seminar on Tuesday was designed to broaden the outreach of these efforts and engage a wider audience.
During Tuesday’s event SLSG sequa Project Manager, Ms. Su Tayar Lin presented the smartphone app Shwe Job – an app designed to educate workers in the Myanmar garment industry on labour laws and occupational safety & health in the factory. Since the app’s launch on May 1st Shwe Job has achieved over 3,300 downloads in the Google Play Store, an average of about 1,000 installs per month.
“We’re not promising a revolution, but I believe that by educating both workers and managers on the existing laws healthy industrial relations will be easier to achieve,” said Ms. Lin.
Through implementing partner ADFIAP – the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and Pacific, SMART Myanmar conducted a 2-day SME Financial Competency Training attended by sixty one (61) members of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) and Myanmar Industries Association at the UMFCCI Mingalar Hall in Yangon, Myanmar on May 11-12, 2017.
This training program completes the holistic approach to help SMEs access finance, particularly those in the garment sector which are the target beneficiaries of SMART Myanmar 2.0. In 2016, ADFIAP conducted three (3) Green Finance Training Programs to members of the Myanmar Bankers Association, culminating in the certification of the participants who completed the 3 courses as “Green Bankers”. The training interventions were aimed at building the capacities of the loan officers so they can confidently lend to green projects under a risk-mitigated environment.
The recently concluded SME Financial Competency Training Program provided SME Managers with key advice on how to understand their financial needs; how to choose and secure the right source of funding; what banks look into in financing SME projects; how to prepare a business plan; how to comply with bank requirements; and how to be a responsible borrower. Having capacitated both the banks and the SMEs, SMART Myanmar envisions to fulfill its aspiration of paving the way for targeted SMEs to have access to finance from banks to fund green investments, especially related with energy and water efficiency.
While working with over a hundred garment factories in Myanmar on different social and environmental topics, SMART Myanmar’s technical team has noticed and received more and more questions from foreign-invested factories on how to improve cross-cultural communications within their workplace. Understanding and effectively managing hundreds and even thousands of persons from a different cultural and linguistic background is a particular challenge for many factories.
In order to address this need and facilitate better workplace cooperation and dialogue, SMART Myanmar developed a Cross-Cultural Communications seminar. This was first organized in Nov. 2016 and was held again on May 31st, 2017. The seminar aims to discuss the challenges in garment factories on cross-cultural communications, introduce details and nuances about Myanmar culture and share good practices on how to integrate sensitivity and respect for local culture into factory management systems. So far, 82 participants from 45 companies have attended the seminars and given very positive feedback.
Due to overwhelming demand, SMART Myanmar will continue to conduct this seminar in different languages to support garment factories to improve workplace communications, labor relations and to promote better harmony and understanding in the industry. Another seminar will be held in Chinese/Mandarin language on July 14th, conducted by SMART’s multi-lingual Chinese and Myanmar technical experts.
Following on the roadmap of SMART Myanmar and Business Innovation Facility (BIF) cooperation, in March 2017 senior technical expert Nancy Feng of SMART Myanmar coached eight consultants from three different Myanmar consultancy firms to further enhance their capacities on HR management in garment factories. The five days coaching consisted of the following parts:
• One day classroom training on performance appraisal system aims at raising their awareness on the importance of performance appraisal, broaden their understanding and enhance the in-depth knowledge on the structure, different methods and practices in the garment factories.
• Four days in-factory coaching to give the consultants first-hand experience to apply knowledge learned from the class room training in the real factory situation. The assessment was led by Ms. Feng who explained to the consultants to help them improve their understanding of common issues and good practices of HR general management, employee retention, working hours and salary systems. As one practical task, the consultants were taught how to interview selected production line workers to learn about good interview methods and improve their communications as well as information collection skills. This kind of intervention creates clear links between theoretical knowledge and real life applications.
These actions were further followed up with more practical work in April. SMART’s technical experts Ms. May Mi Kyaw and Ms. Haymar Oo guided the eight consultants in how to conduct factory assessments, in particular checking HR documents and checking on-site workplace safety & health conditions.
In March 2017 SMART Myanmar launched a third round of the SCORE program, an ILO designed enterprise training method. Four locally owned factories joined and after three months of on-site coaching support SMART Myanmar arranged this 3rd joint training session on 16th June 2017.
Productivity, quality management, safety at work and productivity through cleaner production are all topics covered during this session. The workshop was led by four of SMART’s local SCORE certified trainers, who taught each topic respectively. 13 participants attended from the 4 factories with whom SMART is presently conducting the SCORE program. All participants took part actively in group work, knowledge and experience sharing, as well as all other activities.
The first session of the day was led by Ms. Hay Mar Oo and focused on theoretical knowledge based on real life experiences to demonstrate productivity management and lean manufacturing concepts. This session also included experience and achievement sharing among the participants. In the afternoon section the trainers addressed problem solving methods, quality tools and SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) for quality control by doing group work. Mr. Ye Hein Htet continued by explaining occupational health and safety issues in the work place. In the last session Ms. Min Mon Myat lectured about cleaner production and environmentally friendly practices in factories.
During the morning section, Ms. Zin Zin Wai (Factory Manager) from Belle Maison Maple factory presented their progress during the SCORE program. She said that before joining the SCORE program with SMART “There was no 5S system in the factory before and workers did not know about it either. Now the factory is applying 3S practices according to our factory situation. I always talk about the importance of 3S in the weekly meetings and put up posters showing the meaning of 3S on the factory’s notice board. Thereby, workers now recognize what 3S means, they keep these methods in their mind and practice them in their working areas. This is one of the improvements which was achieved in cooperation with SMART Myanmar in the SCORE program”.
In the afternoon session Ms. Thet Thet San (QC supervisor) from Cho Cho Phyu factory in Shwe Pyi Thar shared her experience on the Quality Assurance 7.0 Audit System which was introduced in late April, 2017. She said that “We now apply it in our daily practice in the factory after getting to know this method. It is more effective than our previous method. We are able to detect more types of defects and at the same time our rework rate has decreased and productivity is better than before”.
More still Ms. Than Than Aye, Factory Manager from Sandar Hein, expressed the difference before and after joining the SCORE program. She said that “We see great achievements in the warehouse area which is now re-arranged according to the 5S system. We also separated the specific areas for reused things from unused things in the store room which was messy and untidy before”.
The day’s session concluded with an evaluation. All the participants gave positive feedback and indicated they were highly satisfied with the training approach.
During May 24th-26th SMART Myanmar held the first ‘Human Resources Management Lab’ of 2017.
This workshop is a three-day interactive program module developed by SMART Myanmar to instill and teach best practices in garment factory HR management, especially focused on systems and policy based improvements. A total 30 participants attended this training, mostly middle-management staff from garment factory HR departments. SMART’s HR Management Labs are normally taught 3 times per year and are open to all garment, footwear and textile factory HR staff.
Jacob A. Clere, Team Leader of SMART Myanmar opened the session by welcoming and introducing participants to the 3 day workshop. The sessions were led by Ms. Nancy Feng, SMART Myanmar’s Senior Technical Expert and some sessions were taught by SMART Myanmar’s HR technical experts Zar Chi Tun and Hsu Yin Win.
To conduct effective role playing and group discussions, all participant were divided into five groups, in which they actively participated and and discussed real life organizational HR case studies.
Ms. Feng presented on strategic HR management and responsibility, especially HR planning, the importance of root cause analysis, how to properly calculate and analyze turnover rates, HR action plans, best systems for handling remuneration, recruitment processes, effective communication within large organizations, handling grievances and training development. During the first day of training, Ms. Tun, presented effective problem solving strategies in the factory. During the second day, Ms. Win explained about the PDCA Process. The participants learned how to become more highly organized, systematic and multi-tasking professionals and how to better incorporate responsible business practices into their management approach.
The participants involved were very satisfied with the training workshop, recognizing that the knowledge acquired will be instrumental for their day-to-day HR activities. After completion of three days training, certificates of completion were awarded to each of the participants who attended all 3 days.
“The best thing I learn from SMART Myanmar project is to increase my awareness to think more from workers’ perspective, how to make the communication easier for them. I started to reflect on our orientation training to make it more effective. We are planning to provide refresher training with more catchy, simple posters and explanations.”
~ Ms. Khin Yamone Zaw, training participant from one of SMART’s training programs in 2016.
With support of the European Union and GIZ, SMART Myanmar has developed an educational smartphone app for industrial workers in Myanmar called “Shwe Job”. On International Workers’ Day, May 1st, SMART Myanmar celebrated the public launch of this app in the Google Play Store with local civil society organization, Thone Pann Hla, at the Sunday Café II in Hlaing Thar Yar Township. Approximately 120 garment workers joined the event.
About Shwe Job:
Shwe Job is an app created by SMART Myanmar to teach garment factory workers about good practices for occupational safety & health in the factory and to increase awareness and knowledge of the existing labour laws in Myanmar. This app uses a combination of stories, illustrations and voiceovers.
Shwe Job references Myanmar’s existing labour laws whenever possible, but also supplements in additional recommendations on occupational safety & health based on international standards and best practices. SMART Myanmar’s goal in creating this app is to create a useful and practical educational tool. The app is not meant to be comprehensive or authoritative, but rather is designed to teach and increase knowledge in a format which is approachable to factory workers.
Shwe Job also includes a Salary Calculator – another tool for workers to understand how their monthly salary is calculated.
“When we started working with Myanmar’s garment workers fewer than 1% owned smart phones. Now, over 90% do. This is an amazing shift in just 4 years. It is this incredible change that prompted us to create a teaching tool which can make full use of the latest and most relevant technologies.” – SMART Myanmar Team Leader Jacob A. Clere.
About SMART Myanmar:
SMART Myanmar is a project funded by the European Union and has been conducting training and capacity building programs on social and environmental issues with garment factories in Myanmar since 2013. The project actively supports and promotes sustainable consumption and production (SCP) of garments “Made in Myanmar” – a concept with emphasis on resource efficiency and social responsibility.
During November 2016 SMART Myanmar’s implementing partner ADFIAP (The Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific) conducted their final week of training for ‘green bankers’. This was the conclusion of a 3-week training program for a dedicated selection of bankers from nearly every locally owned bank in Myanmar.
SMART Myanmar managed to provide this green banker training program to managers and loan officers from 28 banks, with a total of 39 bankers participating in the program. The instruction was designed in a classroom format, but also included interactive participatory sections wherein participants had to present cases based on practical scenarios. As a final test, training participants were various case studies and asked to design project proposals. This was an extremely useful practice for them to learn how to appraise green loans, and is also relevant for any project-based loan appraisal.
In Myanmar most banks rely on collateral-based lending and this kind of project-based lending structure is still fairly new. As such, the financial experts from ADFIAP were pleased to educate local bank staff on the advantages of risk evaluation and project-based lending.
Now that the first year of SMART’s “Green Finance Training Program” has concluded its first year, those certified as “Green Bankers” are envisioned to become champions for green finance within their respective banks. During 2017 ADFIAP will conduct further training with local SMEs on applying for loans. This will be followed by a matchmaking pilot, during which a small selection of companies with suitable green projects will be presented to some of the graduates of the green banking program. Both sides will receive technical advisory support from ADFIAP on the merits of applying for and granting loans based on the specific situations.
SMART Myanmar’s green finance initiative is designed to give SMEs access to finance from banks to fund green investments. The training interventions address the gaps in technical, financial and environmental capacities of loan officers to confidently lend to green projects under a risk-mitigated environment, which is identified as one of the major deterrents in green project financing.