[Rangoon, Burma] - [June 7, 2014] - Today at a signing ceremony attended by U.S. Ambassador to Burma, Derek J. Mitchell, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)/Burma Mission Director, Chris Milligan, Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) announced that the company is partnering with USAID to invest in the social and economic growth of Burma. By producing its products from two factories in Rangoon, Gap Inc. becomes the first American retailer to enter the Burma market. The company's partnership with USAID will help lay the foundation for Gap Inc. to provide growth and economic opportunities for women in the country.
The garment industry stands poised to become a significant source of jobs, exports and opportunity for the people of Burma. Similar to its entry into other new markets over the past few decades, Gap Inc. is applying industry-leading best practices, which include audits by a well-respected non-governmental organization, to ensure that internationally recognized human rights and labor standards are upheld in the factories from which the company is sourcing.
As part of this commitment, Gap Inc. will partner with CARE International in Burma to deliver its award-winning women's advancement program, P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement), in the factories in which it does business by the end of this year, and in select communities where CARE is involved. Started in 2007, P.A.C.E. aims to promote the advancement of female garment workers by providing life skills education and technical training to help them become more successful both personally and professionally.
Through its partnership with USAID, Gap Inc. will work with Indiana University and Hewlett-Packard (HP) to further expand the P.A.C.E. Community Program. By leveraging their shared knowledge and expertise, the partnership will recruit and engage participants in HP LIFE Centers in multiple communities throughout the country.
"USAID is pleased to partner with Gap Inc., one of America's leading corporations, to improve the economic well-being of the people of Burma. Through partnerships, such as this one today, we are working together to ensure that communities benefit from an economy reentering the international marketplace. Through this effort and other initiatives,we are encouraging responsible investment to improve the welfare of all people of this country," said Chris Milligan, USAID/Burma Mission Director.
These efforts are consistent with Gap Inc.'s efforts to improve working conditions and build local capacity in garment factories around the world.
"This is a historic moment for Burma and we are committed to working with the U.S. government and local government alongside local and international NGOs, to help create the economic opportunities that the citizens of Burma so richly deserve. By entering Burma, we hope to help accelerate economic and social growth in the country, and build on our track record of improving working conditions and building local capacity in garment factories around the world," said Wilma Wallace, Vice President, Global Responsibility, Business and Human Rights, Gap Inc.
Gap Inc.'s decision to source garments from Burma was taken after a rigorous due diligence process which saw the company engaging extensively with US government officials, industry and union representatives and international and local NGOs in Burma in order to better understand the opportunities and challenges of doing business in the country.
As part of the company's commitment to transparency, Gap Inc. will voluntarily disclose and publish information about its practices in Burma consistent with the United States Government's reporting procedures. Gap Inc.'s vendors in Burma will be bound by the company's Code of Vendor Conduct.
Gap Inc. clothing made in Burma will be available in stores this summer.
About Gap Inc.
Gap Inc. is a leading global retailer offering clothing, accessories, and personal care products for men, women, and children under the Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, Athleta, and Intermix brands. Fiscal year 2013 net sales were $16.1 billion. Gap Inc. products are available for purchase in more than 90 countries worldwide through about 3,100 company-operated stores, over 350 franchise stores, and e-commerce sites. For more information, please visit www.gapinc.com.
Launched in 2007, Gap Inc.'s P.A.C.E. program creates opportunities for women to advance in their careers and personal lives. The garment industry is one of the world's largest employers of low-skilled women workers. Despite their large numbers in the workforce, relatively few female garment workers advance to management positions, as many do not have access to the education and training that will propel their professional advancement. Research shows that P.A.C.E. graduates have lower rates of absenteeism, advance faster in the workplace and are more productive than factory workers who do not participate in the program. Not only do the women participating benefit from the program, but the factories also benefit by developing a more skilled and reliable workforce.
P.A.C.E. was designed and developed in partnership with Swasti Health Resources and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). CARE International is a key implementing partner. To date, more than 25,000 female garment workers have participated in the program in 7 countries.
For more information on Gap Inc.'s P.A.C.E. program and other community investments, please visitwww.gapinc.com/socialresponsibility.
Download hi res images of our P.A.C.E. participants from around the world.
USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential.
source: The Wall Street Transcript