What is the BRICpro Investment Program and for whom?

With the BRICpro Investment Program we want to encourage companies to do outsourcing right. We’re not here to patronize, but to offer a service that we think solves a hand full of issues: Inefficient Client/Supplier Dialogue, Working Conditions (Security & Health), Motivation and Recognition of Staff, and Production Flow. Improvements in these areas have great potential to enhance customer and employee satisfaction in one go. Investing in your supplier means investing in your company as a whole. Successful businesses, forerunners in their fields, realize this – and act upon it. They create holistic strategies, which integrate issues of responsibility and sustainability into product development, production and marketing.

BRICpro helps you initiate, coordinate and communicate production and Human Rights and Labor related initiatives. An Investment Program will be tailored to the specific needs of a given factory and company. It is not a quick fix but a well thought-out plan of action. Together with the factory management we align our clients’ efforts into a coherent narrative that helps the internal and external communication of a company’s practice and purpose, while setting an example for others within the industry.

 

The OceanandMe Investment Program

Emilie RisgaardOceanandMe brings together easy-to-wear cashmere and lounge wear that make for effortless but elegant outfits. As the head of a young company, creative director, Emilie Risgaard wants to do things right from the outset, whichis why she decided to launch an Investment Program (IP) with BRICpro.

Initially, BRICpro helped Oceanand Me find the right supplier for the new cashmere designs. We helped Emilie launch her production last spring which she is now managing successfully. Through the implementation of an Investment Program, OceanandMe and BRICpro now work on some long-term improvements for workers and their families at the manufacturer in eastern China. The invested amount is not mind-blowing, but for the entrepreneur it was a strategically important decision to establish a personal relationship with the factory while outsourcing her production. Even though she is a young entrepreneur, she decided to start factory development with the resources available to her.

 

Preparation

The first priority was to establish communications between BRICpro, Emilie and the factory management. In order to agree on a plan of action, the next step was to analyze the needs and possibilities at the factory, while taking into account economic resources. The solution had to make sense for both Emilie’s brand and the factory staff. That means we had to take into account cultural differences and questions such as what constitutes “well-being” and “a good work environment” for employees in that particular case.

 

Development & Implementation

IMG_4858Once the plan was drafted BRICpro’s Nichlas took a trip to China to introduce the final proposal and start coordinating the implementation together with country manager Bowen. They explained the IP and it’s more in-depth and long-term purpose to staff representatives and set up the new recreational equipment and learning material in the common room and dormitory. Among other things the investment included various books on self-development, sports, entertainment as well as gym-, yoga- and meditation tools and board games.

BRICpro, moreover, interviewed the staff about daily routines, their relationship with the factory management, the general atmosphere and production-specific topics. (The whole process was documented for Emilie and her customers. The insights will soon be available on OceanandMe.com.) The factory management was very moved by the investment and told us they appreciate the efforts to make a genuine connection in this way.

During this IP Emilie received a range of PR material, helping her integrate the wider context of her products into daily marketing and sales activities (e.g. newsletter, pricetags, brochures, website, social media). For now, BRICpro will continue to analyze the effects of Emilie’s investment and eventually process the factory’s feedback which provides a framework for the next IP opportunity.

 

Follow-up and ‘Return-of-Investment’

Prod. St. light arm QC(6)This first IP focused on the physical improvements for the workers, and Emilie sees it as the beginning of a long-term relationship:

As an organization this means that we want to sustain direct relationships with everyone who makes our products a reality, regardless of geographical distance. As a brand, it means we want to let our customers know, by whom, and how the products they buy are put together. “ Emilie Risgaard

As Emilie sees her company grow she will increase CSR efforts over time. The core value of the OceanandMe IP is the recognition of the employees’ well being in terms of mental and physical health, which is rarely factored into traditional supply chain management. The Investment Program boils down to exploring, changing and eventually telling the story of stuff: Emilie’s cashmere sweaters. Now the product has a tangible story, making people more aware about what they buy and consume.

The goal is to build trust and a degree of familiarity between different actors in a supply chain, thereby increasing a sense of mutual responsibility and the motivation to deliver. The Investment Program is meant to introduce a culture of creating long-term benefits for – and in collaboration with – factory staff.

This requires dialogue and subsequent action in terms of how business processes, production and working environment can be improved to render the supplier (and subsequently the client) more sustainable and cost-efficient in the long-run.

Read more in an interview with Emilie on CSR.dk