Bangladesh is one of the largest contributor of the RMG products, usually engaged women (~70%) in the production activity. Due to their high workload and time bound engagement in the production, they does not got chance to prepare nutritious meals in their day-to-day life, which eventually adversely affected in their family nutrition. For improving the situation Apon Wellbeing with support from WorldFish Bangladesh, introduced semi-processed fish in their pre-installed Apon Fair Stores in the factory premises. Apart from offering fish, these stores also offered health support and information associated with intake of nutritious food also being promoted among the workers of this sector. Discounts and credit facilities on every products, especially on fish, is the part of social responsibilities of this innovative social business model.
Apon Wellbeing operates 24 stores in RMG factories in 3 geographic clusters, which host the regional supply chains and from those, nine stores were selected and capacitized to handle fish. To maintain a sustainable business model, match market prices and keep the price affordable to the lower income factory workers, Apon decided to purchase fish from local suppliers as purchasing fish from WorldFish’s farmers was estimated to be higher. Twenty-five farmers were contracted to supply fish to the Apon target customers. With support from WorldFish, branding, marketing, sales promotional deals and offers were strategically implemented to attract factory workers to increase fish consumption. Customers at the RMG factories were regularly communicated via PA announcement, floor visits and promoted sales by enhancing branding and marketing.
Exceeding the target of 27 tons, Apon sold a total of 31 ton of fishes over the 12 months of operation leading to a sale of BDT 166M. Almost 63% of the total fish sold were Rohu fish while Prawns and Pangasius held large shares among the rest. The introduction of the fish in such stores also triggered the demand of other perishables and identified the new business channel for Apon, which created avenue of introduction of vegetables, eggs, fruits etc. Rice contributed 35% of the overall revenue in early 2021, where fish and other perishables contributed average 38% of the overall revenue in mid-2022 and data showed a positive progressive trend in the business margin for Apon. Customer penetration followed a month-to-month trend similar to fish sales – a rise in the first six months followed a dip due to the planned closure of cash supply to introduce ERP and then gradual increase over the later months. A positive trend was observed for fish and other perishables purchase, which eventually indicated the increase of nutritious food intake among the customers, especially for the women and their family members.
The rising demand for on-premise shops with quality nutrition products at affordable prices indicated the need for expansion of the model. Besides vertical growth, focus should be given on horizontal growth in terms of greater customer penetration. Continuous improvement of the supply chain facilities is needed to increase affordability. In addition, more strategic and innovative communication approach is needed to increase awareness among the customer groups.