Ferdoushi Howlader, MCC Bangladesh job creation project supervisor, walks past the entrance to MCC's research and design facility in Mymensingh, Bangladesh. MCC also created a fiber research center to develop new materials and techniques for processing pineapple and banana leaf fibers used in creating thread, yarn and fabrics.
The MCC research and design facility also works with partners to develop products out of recycled and natural materials. Hasna Begum paints a papier-mâché elephant for a partner project. (Begum is a common surname in Bangladesh) Many of the handicrafts are exported to fair trades stores around the world including Ten Thousand Villages.
Bundles of pineapple leaves are stacked for processing. Custom machinery was developed, starting in 2007, to turn the various plant leaves into fiber. Bangladesh is one of few countries producing material out of these exotic fibers.
Banana fiber and papier-mâché animals both dry before they are turned into final products. The research and design center does not mass-produce products. The goal is to create new products and create new jobs through this research.
Selina Begum spins fiber created from leaves into thread. This hand machine is used to try out different combinations of fiber. Once a good combination is found it then can be produced in greater quantity.
Nasima Begum, left, and Deslima Begum work at their looms to create fabric from different fibers such as cotton, pineapple and banana. Research and development with exotic fibers is important to find products that have strong appeal in local and international markets.
MCC Bangladesh Designer Abir Das displays a scarf made from exotic fiber created at the research and design facility. Designers play an important role in choosing patterns, colors and style of new products.
MCC Bangladesh is one of only a few organizations, working with handicrafts, to research how renewable indigenous materials and processes fit together to create new and durable products. Helping to sustain the livelihoods of disadvantaged women in Bangladesh is the mission of this center through research and design. Check out the Spring 2011 issue of A Common Place to learn more about MCC projects in Bangladesh.