Having vital necessities met does not ensure hope and dignity in a community, if people are not self-sufficient, and if they have no means to shape their own futures. When we began our work in the river island regions of Northern Bangladesh, we encountered many families mired in such hopelessness due to poverty and lack of opportunities.
After ensuring the availability of life-saving services, we create a path out of poverty through economic opportunities and capacity-building.
WEAVING, TAILORING AND EMBROIDERY CENTRES
Often, women find themselves in the most disadvantaged situations in society, particularly in rural Bangladesh.
But the difference between hopelessness and a dignified life is often just a question of opportunity. Friendship’s vocational training centres teach women to weave, dye and tailor fabrics that are later sold by Friendship’s lifestyle brand, Colours of the Chars, in Bangladesh and Europe.
This gives them an income as well as a set of income generating skills. Being breadwinners gives them influence at home and in their communities.
Access to finance can help save or create livelihoods. Friendship offers loans to farmers and fishermen, as well as our extant beneficiaries who need a general loan as assistance to be able to get back on their feet.
The loans can cover everything from nets, boats, engines, tackle, bait and other equipment for fishermen; faming equipment, seeds, fertilizers etc. for the farmers; and a general loan for cash injections to keep businesses afloat over short-term cash shortfalls.
CAPACITY BUILDING AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
Friendship advises farmers and fishermen on how to develop their skills, improve production, and overall financial sustainability, along with technical assistance and advice on gardening, modern agriculture techniques, additional subsistence farming, alternative crops, shrimp or crab farming, etc. In combination with the microfinance options – if they choose to take them, this can assist people to break the cycle of poverty.
ACCESS TO MARKET
Often farmers and fishermen face losses despite good yields, due to unfavourable market conditions.
Friendship connects producers with traders, and inform farmers in remote communities how to obtain market information so that they can sell their produce at a fair price.
We also offer extensive training on post-harvest handling and storage, so that farmers can store their surplus and sell when market prices are higher.
FRIENDSHIP FARMERS’ CLUBS
Friendship Farmers’ Clubs are participatory, inclusive and learner-centred training activity that takes place in the field over the course of a growing season (to cover all the different stages of development of a crop).
Instead of providing farmers with top-down or theoretical recommendations, Farmers Field Schools connect many farmers to exchange practical knowledge based on their practical experience about methods that have been proven to work.
ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT SERVICES AND SOCIAL SAFETY NET
The Government of Bangladesh has social safety net programs, employment programs, and land available specifically for ultra-poor and landless families who are in dire need of assistance.
Access to these programs enables families to lift themselves resources.
Friendship’s community workers assist people in remote communities in gaining access to public services that they are otherwise unaware of.
EMPLOYMENT TO WORKERS OF LOST CRAFTS OF BENGAL
Friendship strives to preserve Bangladesh’s irreplaceable boat-building heritage before it is lost forever and help to create a sustainable livelihood for the boat-builders.
We aim to help develop a sustainable business model for these carpenters, sail-makers and rope-makers by selling their model boats in our Colours of the Chars stores in Bangladesh and Europe or organising exhibitions worldwide.
Working with the last remaining carpenters able to transmit their ancestral technical skills is a way of documenting and preserving this national heritage.