Meet the man on a mission to establish a traceable, data-driven RMG sector

What made you decide to start Merchant Bay?  

After I got into the local RMG sector through my family business, it really did not take long for me to realize that the country's single-biggest export earner has a lot of scope for improvement in terms of marketing and operations. 

The world is going through the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) and here we are, making decisions based on intuition. Initially, I blended deep into the current process to understand it from the inside, which gave me the idea of working on a solution.   

I took baby steps to founding my startup as digitization and RMG have many failed cases and the overall industry has always had a reluctance to internal changes. It is difficult to align the mass workforce towards digitization. 

But when the pandemic hit the world, we faced the most difficult time this industry has ever seen. We realized how vulnerable we are. Everyone started looking into survival strategies and this opened their minds towards adapting to changes. 

We started realizing how crucial of a role technology and digitization can play. This got me to roll my sleeves up and dig deeper into creating a solution that can use the power of data and digitization to give an unparalleled advantage to our industry. I believe that we need to go beyond our daily micro tasks and build a long-term market expansion strategy.  

With this intention, Merchant Bay, the RMG-tech start-up, was launched in 2020, with the dreams of bringing digitization to the RMG sector to connect globally and increase internal efficiency.

Where do you get the data from for breaking the cycle of making intuition-based decisions?

You would be surprised to know how much data is generated in garment factories every day. 

To collect that data, you would need softwares embedded across all steps of operations, which would give out data-sets for you to analyze and make a data-driven decision. 

That is why Merchant Bay develops business intelligence tools, which do not require complex changes in the existing operation model but help factories to easily organize the important data.

How would you say the overall adoption of technology in the sector is?

As I said, it is the 4IR. The whole world is adopting, and we have seen this during the pandemic. 

However, Bangladesh's apparel industry is just at the tip of its digitization journey, and it is crucial to integrate such a process into broader transformation at an accelerated pace.  

We need to utilize data more and more while making business decisions, as well as focus on both micro-macro variables of production, such as the practice of lean manufacturing, that reduces waste and increases productivity. 

We have to move into the kinds of digitization that helps in cost optimization, support the industry in capacity building, product diversification, improving predictability, efficiency, decision making, accuracy, and cost optimization – not just in sourcing, but throughout the entire business process. 

Bangladesh has always been resilient and I am optimistic that we will adopt more soon.

What are the barriers to the current process of adopting digitization?

We will need a change in the overall mindset as we need to overcome some prejudices for this fast-changing element. 

A major barrier to adoption to digitization is our priority list. As business flow starts again, the daily operations stay the priority and we often skip the improvement part. 

Digitizing our marketing and operations has promising ROI value, but for this, the organizational culture has to be set by top and mid management, and partial effort has to be given to see the significance. 

I agree that digitizing the entire system of a labour-intensive manufacturing unit is not easy. Hence, we have to take it step-by-step. This will help us expand our business and reach bigger milestones.

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