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Garment Factories, Palm Oil Suppliers Mapped for End-to-End Traceability

Local data collectors equipped with mobile apps are conducting a census of garment factories in Bangladesh to create a digital factory map. | Image credit: Sourcemap

The team behind digital supply chain mapping platform Sourcemap has been busy. Their latest projects aim to bring a new level of transparency to two of the most notoriously difficult to track industries in the world: clothing and palm oil.

For clothing, the company is starting with a door-to-door census of every garment factory in one of the world’s largest producing regions: Bangladesh. The Sourcemap team travelled to Dhaka in February to begin the process. Administered in partnership with the C&A Foundation and BRAC University (BRAC U), GPS-linked data points are being collected from factory owners, workers and organizations on the ground. The local data collectors are equipped with mobile apps that feed the data into Sourcemap’s platform, which should allow them to create a comprehensive digital map and new level of transparency for apparel companies.




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“A big part of our commitment to have Bangladeshis own and control this data comes down to designing the right interface,” said Rhea Rakshit, Director of Design for Sourcemap. “The goal is to make it as simple as possible to collect data from factories on the ground, and then allow apparel brands and other stakeholders to gain access to it through an easy to use mapping platform.”

In addition to factory and worker statistics, the types of products manufactured and the names of clothing brands that each factory manufactures for will also be captured. The partners plan to upload all the collected data to Sourcemap’s cloud servers and make it visible to the public, which will increase the accountability of brands and decrease risk to workers.

Sourcemap CEO Leonardo Bonanni says it will also add value to Bangladeshi products. “The crowdsourced garment factory map promises to make the ‘Made in Bangladesh’ label an asset to apparel brands and a point of consumer pride worldwide,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the scope for palm oil is more broad thanks to a partnership with Bluenumber, the developer and host of an independent registry of unique digital farmer and worker identities. Sourcemap and Bluenumber have jointly developed two new offerings for palm oil traceability that they claim create end-to-end visibility.

The basic ‘Supply Map’ offering is designed to help buyers show their consumers and stakeholders from where and whom they source palm oil. The more advanced service, ‘Trace & Track,’ gives buyers highly detailed information on the origin, route and handling of every specific Palm Oil shipment received, including every smallholder and every mill involved in each specific delivery. According to the developers, users of their software can “prove with precision that their palm oil supply chain is deforestation-free and socially responsible.”

The solutions use proprietary technology from Bluenumber, including GPS-enabled data collection apps for fieldwork. Bluenumber issues unique identifiers to verify every smallholder, estate worker and facility at every stage in the supply chain (regardless of if they are certified under traditional programs). The Sourcemap platform organizes and visualizes all data necessary to understand and present verified smallholders, mills and other actors. Integrated systems establish the relationships and transactions between these people and places, and the resulting visualization and data analysis shows the activity of smallholders and estates. Risk data associated with each actor or entity allow buyers at multiple levels in the supply chain to make more informed procurement decisions on where and whom to source from.


Launched in 2006, Sustainable Brands has become a global learning, collaboration, and commerce community of forward-thinking business and brand strategy, marketing, innovation and sustainability professionals who are leading the way to a better future. We recognize that brands today have… [Read more about Sustainable Brands]


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