VF Corp is pledging up to US$10m for fire and building safety upgrades

VF Corp is pledging up to US$10m for fire and building safety upgrades

As part of ongoing efforts to improve working conditions in Bangladesh's garment sector, VF Corp is partnering with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to provide up to US$10m in financing for fire and building safety upgrades in its supplier factories.

The owner of the North Face and Vans brands says these funds are part of its overall $17m commitment to the health and safety of Bangladeshi garment workers.

The financial commitment will see VF Corp provide a corporate guarantee for IFC remediation loans to its suppliers. The programme, it adds, will enable the IFC to award loans at a reasonable cost to qualified VF supplier factories, and help to "accelerate the implementation of needed fire and building safety improvements".

Qualifying suppliers will have undergone structural, electrical and fire safety assessments under the protocol outlined by the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, according to VF. And the funding will be used to implement corrective action plans from these assessments.

Individual loans are expected to range from $100,000 to $1m and must address one of three applicable performance standards: assessment and management of environmental and social risks and impacts; labour and working conditions; or resource efficiency and pollution prevention.

"The safety of the people making our products around the world is an imperative," said VF chairman, president and CEO Eric Wiseman.

"Our programme with IFC helps to ensure that our suppliers have access to the necessary capital to complete safety improvement plans."

IFC's director for South Asia, Serge Devieux, added: "This financing model, which we think could work well for other buyers and suppliers, will help Bangladesh's suppliers improve work conditions and strengthen the country's ability to attract garment manufacturers."