Progoti is a Toronto-based social enterprise with a difference. We deliver smart, casual designs to dress up or down while helping improve the lives of garment workers in Bangladesh. Our aim is to reform Bangladesh’s garment industry by establishing a direct link between conscientious customers in the global north and garment workers on the ground.
We source our garments ethically by partnering directly with factories that uphold safe working conditions, maintain standard wages, and treat their workers with dignity. Although our partner factories maintain better labour practices in the region, the industry itself does not grant retirement insurance for workers. Through our unique business model, we offer customers the opportunity to voluntarily contribute to retirement policies with each of their purchases. But we don’t just want to change individual lives; we want to slowly but surely improve the industry itself. Over time we hope our approach can become a reference for how other entrepreneurs can implement progressive business models successfully.
The Bangladeshi garment industry has become well-known for both the immensity of its production (as the world’s second-largest clothing manufacturer) and the low standards of its working conditions. The 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza in Dhaka, for example, claimed the lives of over 1,100 people and brought global attention to the dangerous conditions endured by workers. Widespread and immediate reform could not be more urgent and workers lives hang in the balance. We are confident that through small but mighty acts of collaboration, we can advance the necessary systemic improvements that will allow workers to look to the future with hope and security.
Unlike most businesses, our bottom line does not hold us hostage. We prioritize a different bottom line—the well-being of workers in our industry. The human dimension of fashion production cannot be sidelined any longer, so we are building a safety net for each worker, woven by our customer base. But we can’t reform the fashion industry on our own. Our fashion is global. We believe our compassion must be too. To learn more about our vision and journey, please listen to this interview with our founder, Nurjahan Begum