An international virtual competition – “Innovation Challenge to futureproof the female workforce in Bangladesh RMG sector” launch


In a unique partnership, the H&M Foundation, BRAC and The Asia Foundation launch the “STITCH for RMG Global Innovation Challenge” – an international virtual competition aimed at sourcing tech-based innovations to spur positive impact on women employed within the Ready-Made Garment (RMG) industry in Bangladesh. Application is now open and to be submitted by 25 November 2021.

The challenge welcomes any team around the world with an idea, ready prototype, pre-commercial, or post-commercial innovations contextual to the Bangladeshi RMG industry and its women workers. 6 winning ideas will be chosen to receive incubation support and up to $30,000 from a total grant of  $180,000.

The aim of the innovation challenge is to empower women and increase female employability.

The use of automation and digital technology is making its way into the textile industry. The transformation provides great opportunities but also risks for millions of jobs, especially for women who represent most of the workforce in the RMG industry and who have routinized jobs at high risk of automation. There is an urgent need to create a skilled female workforce to save jobs, create new job opportunities and promote gender equity in factories.

To empower women and increase female employability, the H&M Foundation, BRAC and The Asia Foundation have joined forces to equip women textile workers for an automated and digitized future work in Bangladesh. The “STITCH for RMG Global Innovation Challenge” is designed to identify the most impactful local and global business innovations that have the potential to improve the industry competitiveness and livelihood of women garment workers.

The competition is the second part of the STITCH for RMG pilot project undertaken by BRAC and H&M Foundation. The first part was a global virtual Conference bringing together relevant stakeholders in the RMG industry ecosystem to foster communication, collaboration and co-creation. The Innovation Challenge is curated based on the insights and knowledge generated from the Conference. The goal of the project is to create an environment that safeguards and advances women’s economic empowerment. Innovators from around the world are welcome to submit viable solutions to safeguard the jobs of women in the RMG industry of Bangladesh, promote gender equity and increase the competitiveness of factories.

“There is a real need for new approaches to support women in the future garment industry. We have high hopes that the STITCH for RMG Global Innovation Challenge will result in innovations that have the potential to improve the industry competitiveness and livelihood of the women garment workers. Our long-term goalis to prepare and equip the women to work successfully alongside AI and automation, and by this safeguard their livelihoods.”- Charlotte Brunnström, Strategy Lead at H&M Foundation

Six winning teams will get incubation support and up to $30,000 to pilot their innovations! We welcome ideas that have an explicit gender lens within these themes:

Automation and efficiency

How can we improve industry efficiency and business automation while protecting the careers for women garment workers?

Sustainability and circular fashion

How can we move towards a greener circular ecosystem where both the RMG industry and women garment workers can thrive?

Product design, diversification, and raw material

How can we diversify the products that the industry manufactures, while improving gender equality in the factories?

Skills development and women’s careers

How can we create an ecosystem for upskilling, re-skilling, and training support for women RMG workers to help them progress in their careers?

Enabling environments

How can we back women garment workers in their gender-based challenges, by providing an ecosystem of support at work and beyond?


  • Any group with 2 to 3 members with innovative ideas, entrepreneurial attitude and commitment to take their idea to the next level.
  • Any existing Startups/ Social Enterprises with bold ideas or new features that can be an extension of their existing initiatives.

The challenge is open for innovations in prototype, pre-commercial and post-commercial stages. The application is open until November 25th. Learn more at and apply to the innovation challenge at

Previous articleBangladesh is one of our biggest production markets and will continue to be very important to us. Ziaur Rahman, Regional Country Manager, H&M