Our impact, Their voices

Advancing productivity, quality improvement and decent work in Ethiopia’s garment industry - results so far.

The ILO Programme on Advancing Decent Work and Inclusive Industrialization in Ethiopia (SIRAYE) identified that a majority of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Ethiopian garment industry experienced low productivity and poor working conditions. To address this and to establish a robust, sustainable and inclusive compliance system, the ILO SCORE Programme piloted productivity, quality and lean production techniques in selected garment factories, with attention to continuous and measurable improvements.

Article | 01 June 2022
The ILO SCORE Programme’s approach to productivity improvement in SMEs is rooted in promoting cooperative working relations and shared benefits for both enterprises and workers. As step zero, SCORE trainers conduct a baseline assessment to identify existing gaps and opportunities for improvement in SMEs, and measure change through Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

The SCORE Programme began intervention in Ethiopia in November 2018. Since then, it has trained a total of 1,746 workers and managers (44 per cent women) from 64 enterprises in the garment, leather and horticulture sectors. These interventions produced remarkable results in beneficiary SMEs, with participants’ satisfaction rate as high as at 89 per cent.

As of December 2021, 60 per cent of all SCORE trained SMEs reported increased productivity, and more than 40 per cent of SMEs improved worker participation in decision making. Almost 50 per cent of all SMEs also showed reduced labour turnover, absenteeism, end-line defects and costs. In addition, thanks to SCORE Training, more than 45 per cent and 35 per cent of SMEs reported fewer accidents and worker complaints respectively.

SCORE Training Results in Ethiopia (up to December 2021) 

Even during the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, the SCORE Programme joined forces with ITC-ILO to offer online training to help Ethiopian SCORE trainers to adopt e-learning strategies and training courses. Not just this, the SCORE Programme also continued to collaborate with LAB ADMIN/OSH and Vision Zero Fund in 2020 to develop combined training modules “COVID-19 Safety and Health at Work” and “COVID-19 Business Continuity Planning” to help businesses to reopen, stay open safely, and recover from pandemic related disruptions. To date, a total of 20 Ethiopian SMEs have benefited from the adapted SCORE COVID-19 training module.
“Since the outbreak of the virus, workers feared coming to work. In many cases, workers took their salaries and never came back. However, since we established the [Productivity Improvement Consultant] Committee and committed to having 10-minute morning meetings with workers everyday, the absenteeism rate has decreased. Workers started expressing openly their fear of the virus to managers and supervisors. They also suggested preventive measures. This is not only useful for workers, but it was extremly valuable to the factory’s performance in general.”
Getnet Aregaw
Production Manager, CBA Garment

SCORE Training incorporates techniques for productivity improvement in SMEs

The pilot enterprises in Ethiopia implemented, among others, daily worker-management meetings, employee suggestion schemes, 5S (Sort - Set in order – Sweep – Standardise - Sustain), and tracking tools for KPIs related to worker retention, safety and health, and product reworks and rejections. Results from SCORE trained SMEs show that, on average, structured information sharing led to reduced absenteeism to 4.2 per cent, as well as lower turnover rate to 1.9 per cent.
Table 1: Improvement data from SCORE pilot lines in Ethiopia; Source: Progress reports by SCORE trainers.

Companies incorporating 5S also reported improvements in their physical workplace and workplace organization. New measures to ensure uncluttered production floors, proper storage, and size-based placement of threads reduced search time for tools, raw materials and production equipment from 2 minutes before SCORE Training to 15 seconds after. Additionally, the percentage of products meeting international standards went up to 85 per cent, and workplace accidents dropped to 0.

Enterprises are complex operations that constantly face a myriad of challenges on a day-to-day basis. Workplace cooperation plays a critical role in addressing these challenges. It constitutes a competitive edge for SMEs through building up a highly motivated and efficient team of employees to improve the quality of products and services offered to its customers.

CBA Garment located at Gelan town in the Oromia region provides a case for this. It underlines SCORE Training’s emphasis on small yet effective techniques for worker-manager cooperation and productivity improvement in its trouser and shirt lines, which contributed to enhanced team performance and individual worker morale.

Table 2: 2020 productivity data from CBA Garment compared to 2020 baseline data; Source: Progress report by SCORE trainer; Note: The decrease in productivity in the shirt line in April 2020 is related to pandemic related closures
“I never really felt that I had a responsibility to bring change in the company, it just felt like a routine job carried out for my survival... they give us orders and we work accordingly.... We never saw the fruits of our work. Now, we are speaking to the managers, we jointly discuss what we achieved yesterday and what we need to achieve today, it's also displayed on the board. We tell them what we need, and they hear us. They also started giving incentives for achieving targets. This has created a spirit of competition and motivation to achieve more.’’
Meron Jemato
Line Supervisor, CBA Garment

SCORE Training promotes a quality assurance culture for increased customer satisfaction

Continuous quality improvement ensures that customers are satisfied and increases customer loyalty. SCORE Training in Ethiopian garment factories puts an emphasis on customer needs, helping managers and workers to improve product and service quality through a quality assurance culture.

As of 2021, SCORE trained SMEs designed 13 standard operating procedures (SOPs) for mid- and end-line inspection sets, developed inline inspection mottos (e.g. “do not accept, do not do, and do not pass if a product or component is defective”), and adopted defect identification tools for “why-why” and root cause (Pareto and Fishbone) analysis.

This, alongside a systematic arrangement of reworks and rejections across production floors, led to reduced rejection rate from 1 per cent to 0.5 per cent in one of the factories, and rework rate from 35 per cent to 6.75 per cent in another factory. Data also indicates a significant decrease in defect rates, as also illustrated by improvements recorded in Gaber Garment, where SCORE Training was piloted in Ethiopia.

Table 3: Defect rates (%) in Gaber Garment before and after SCORE Training

SCORE Training’s attention to product design, process design and process control helped Ethiopian garment businesses to recognize the increasing linkage between quality and customer satisfaction, and identify quality as a significant aspect that separates a business from their competitors. It fostered joint problem-solving and responsibility for quality control and quality assurance, which is an essential ingredient for creating a sustainable business.

SCORE Training introducing lean manufacturing techniques to improve factory flow

The “SCORE Lean Manufacturing” module is dove-tailed with the ILO Better Work Programme to create a comprehensive solution to low productivity in Ethiopia’s apparel factories. The SCORE Programme advocates industrial engineering techniques to improve processes by eliminating or minimizing time, money, man-hours, materials, tools, energy and other resources that do not add value to the product or service. In particular, it promotes a work culture of systematic recording and examination of ways of doing things, as well as measuring the work content in the task (for instance, how long should it take a qualified operator to perform a defined task under specific conditions of work).

Table 4: KPI data on clean/lean production in Ethiopia; Source: M&E Database, December 2021.

‘’We have developed a systematic way of recording, organizing and analysing data. This helped us to manage and focus on improvements.’’
Daniel Getahun
Quality Manager, Gaber Garment
Results from SCORE trained factories indicate significant and tangible improvements in production capacity and productivity. Augusta Garment in Addis Ababa, for instance, established 2 new production lines and increased its space utilization by 40 per cent (against 2020 baseline data). The factory also established a Productivity Improvement Consultative Committee (PICC), which developed an action plan for performance improvement, and put in place preventive measures to create safe and healthy workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, Edget Garment and Gaber Garment factories in Addis Ababa looked into their cycle time, takt time and operator requirements, and implemented a new line balancing to standardize and establish production targets. As a result, Edget Garment improved its line balance efficiency from 24 per cent to 75 per cent and increased its daily line production from 50 to 120 pieces. Gaber Garment also almost doubled its monthly production from 5, 726 to 10, 829 pieces, with increased labour productivity from 1.2 to 2.3 pieces per minute.

SCORE Training in Ethiopia has generated a wide range of learnings and good practices for the broader ILO SIRAYE Programme of which it is a key component, and are increasingly informing policies at sectoral and national levels today. As next steps, the ILO SIRAYE Programme aims to embed SCORE Training into national policies to increase national coverage, and contribute to the efforts of the Government of Ethiopia and social partners to enhance SME productivity and competitiveness in different sectors

The ILO SIRAYE Programme aims to advance Ethiopia’s industrial productivity to establish a globally competitive textile and garment sector, and encourage accountable government institutions. It draws expertise from key ILO departments and programmes: SCORE Programme, Better Work, Vision Zero Fund, LABADMIN/OSH Branch, and INWORK Branch.

The ILO SCORE Programme is an ILO global programme that improves productivity and working conditions in small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The key intervention of the programme is SCORE Training, which combines practical classroom training with in-factory consulting. The Training demonstrates best international practice in the manufacturing and service sectors and helps SMEs to participate in global supply chains.