Case Studies

  • Aarong
  • Aditi
  • Farms N Farmers
  • TNPL
  • Suvidha
  • VAPCOL

Aarong Social Audit Case Study

Available in stunning colours and eye-catching designs: from smart-looking rattan furniture to traditional jewellery, Aarong, the most popular retail chain in Bangladesh, has it all. These products have been crafted by underprivileged artisans (85 per cent of them women), with great care and passion. ‘Aarong’, which means ‘village fair’ in Bengali, had its humble beginnings way back in 1978 as a way to empower rural artisans to rise above poverty. Aarong now supports 65,000 artisans with fair terms of trade and is an enterprise of BRAC.

Aarong’s products blend the traditional with the contemporary, making it a household name in Bangladesh. With 15 stores and a hundred fashion and lifestyle products, its presence outside Bangladesh is growing too, through its trade network and online shop, which is backed by a robust supply chain and distribution network.

As an enterprise that implements fair trade norms and social accountability, Aarong has set up an internal control and monitoring system. This compliance system includes 39 standards across 9 areas like cleanliness and sanitation, waste management, chemical management, fire safety and prevention, working conditions, infrastructure, production efficiency, human resource management and product and personal security. Earlier, the field officers used to carry out the procedures manually by visiting the production units. Adding to it, the paper-based reporting system made the entire process time-consuming and cumbersome. Further, a tedious process of data compilation and analysis was required to arrive at a rating for each standard. This rating would then have to be intimated to the producer groups, along with a corrective action plan. The field officers would have to visit the production units multiple times to monitor the progress made on the corrective action plan.

Problem or need

  • Requirement of an application for social audit systems
  • Need to reduce time and effort taken by manual data collection systems.
  • Bring down the cost in implementing fair trade norms and social accountability systems.
  • Requirement for digitizing producers’ information and capturing base parameters at field level.

By deploying SourceTrace solutions

  • Aarong has changed the rules of the game through annual audits conducted through SourceTrace.
  • Support to remote production units have been provided, and these help sustain a safe and environmentally-friendly working environment.
  • All producers’ data is centrally analysed and available in real-time, thus making the consultation process with the producers more efficient.
  • Introduction of SourceTrace technology in the handicraft sector has created a revolution in low-cost mobile applications.
  • No longer will geographical limitations be the reason for ignorance in business practices.

After a thorough review of requirements, it was found that SourceTrace ESE (eServices Everywhere) Certification platform perfectly suited Aarong’s social audit requirements. As a first step, it involved digitizing the producers’ information and capturing all the base parameters at field level. This information is made available at near real time to the management, which helps them with forward planning and corrective action. This helps manage risk and also enables monitoring of producers’ performance across diverse areas. Another unique feature is the use of GPS coordinates as well as visual data of the environment (photos) which is transmitted through the servers so that the management can review whether producers comply with the standards.

Aarong now enjoys several benefits owing to the new digitized system. It has a unique database for every producer, with details of age, gender and education level. The cost of field officers manually travelling in order to collect this data has been reduced to near zero. Digital record-keeping of data enables it to be available anytime, anywhere for the decision makers. The provision of capturing photos and GPS coordinates greatly aids the verification process – as we all know – seeing is believing.