Interviews

Shahriar Rahman, Country Manager, Kutumbita

Ever since the Rana Plaza collapse, RMG manufacturers have grown increasingly cautious and the risk in the industry has reduced. Now, top compliant manufacturers are focusing on the well-being of their workforce by engaging with them in dialogues, training and even with session on their rights. This is where Kutumbita changes everything.
Kutumbita is a tech startup headquartered in Singapore that focuses on empowering workers in the garments industry through an application designed to foster communication between employer and employee in firms which are too large for traditional communication channels. Kutumbita’s product is an Android app, a channel which workers can use to voice their complaints and concerns to their employers, while a check-and-balance system ensures the employers act on the issues raised by their employees. This helps the management create the means for clear and equitable communication despite the size of the workforce and address the major issues in the garments sector in Bangladesh – from labor unrest to work-related grievances. While reporting a problem, such as the common occurrence of a blocked fire exit, the workers can attach images to better identify the problem and provide photographic evidence. Kutumbita is working on allowing users to upload video and audio along with complaint reports in an upcoming version. In short, Kutumbita tackles the challenge of logging grievances from a large non-desk worker population.
Because of Kutumbita’s role in digitally empowering the workers, apparels manufacturers can now acquire better rating for their factories and yield more revenue in the long run while giving their workers access to a platform which is designed to boost productivity and job satisfaction. IBT spoke to Shahriar Rahman, the Country Manager of Kutumbita in Bangladesh to get an inside-out look into their work.

Kutumbita App

How is Kutumbita doing?
It was a great quarter for us last year. From our first deployment we gathered feedback from the field, and now we are incorporating them into our next version of the app. It is not an unknown fact that factory employees often have trouble communicating with the management and vice versa. Through this app, a manufacturer or company owner can streamline the communications process and increases employee engagement between different levels of a factory. So basically, we are uniquely solving the problem that has been persisting for ages.

THROUGH THIS APP, A MANUFACTURER OR COMPANY OWNER CAN STREAMLINE THE COMMUNICATIONS PROCESS AND INCREASES EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT BETWEEN DIFFERENT LEVELS OF A FACTORY.”

What is the feedback from the market?
In a word, phenomenal. We have been receiving great feedback from the market. The brands, the buyers, the manufacturers, the auditors and global partners. The Daily Star did a story on us, and it was later picked up by most prominent dailies of France, Czech Republic, Singapore, and Switzerland. In addition to that, we have received numerous accolades from many brands, manufacturers, bodies and International organization working in this sector.

Why do you think the garments manufacturers are going to opt for Kutumbita?
It’s really simple: the value this app is adding to your business – it alone is good enough reason to go for this app. To be even precise, we have made our app in such a way that it can ensure compliance in the factory which no factories could. Higg Index, a parameter set by Sustainable Apparel Coalition, was kept in mind when we were developing this app. So, with this app fully deployed in a factory, the manufacturers can opt for up to 32 points in Higg Index.

KUTUMBITA FACILITATES TWO-WAY COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN WORKER AND THE MANAGEMENT WHICH INCREASES THE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE OF THE WORKFORCE.“

What are the other benefits of using Kutumbita?
Kutumbita helps your workers spend less time managing their schedule and more time being productive. It brings their schedule to life and makes it easy to see what’s ahead. Kutumbita makes sure your workers are well informed about their rights and responsibilities. Informed employees equal more productive employees. Kutumbita facilitates two-way communications between worker and the management which increases the trust and confidence of the workforce. With streamlined & centralized application and grievance processes, industries can reduce overall operational costs up to 25%. Centralization through Kutumbita allows HR departments to monitor and comply almost the social audits. This in long-run will make continuous improvement a priority. Turn your data into an asset by harnessing new opportunities. That, in turn, leads to smarter business moves, more efficient operations, higher profits and engaged workforce.

Currently how many factories have you deployed this app in?
So far we have used our app in four factories. Three more factories are in the pipeline for deployment. We are seeing more and more factories signing up for Kutumbita, but we are deploying the app on a rolling basis.

Kutumbita App

Most shop-floor workers don’t have smartphones. How are you planning to bring them onboard?
Before launching Kutumbita, we have researched a lot about the TG, the industry, their behavioral pattern. From the study, we gained valuable insights about their livelihood, and from that, we developed several packages with top handset brands and operators particularly to cater this TG the shop-floor workers. The garments management can opt in for those packages if they want to, to deploy the app. We have a proven systematic process of deployment through which we can ensure maximum deployment in the shortest amount of time.

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