In a landmark , Bangladesh joined the select group of countries that manufacture world-class, large-scale Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by shipping 6.5 million PPE gowns to US brand Hanes, for ultimate delivery to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
To mark the occasion, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam and US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller attended a function and saw off the first shipment at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Monday.
Speaking on the occasion, Shahriar Alam said like the rest of the world, Bangladesh is also facing the toughest of times in trying to cope with the Coronavirus pandemic.
“And in these trying times, it is remarkable to see that within this short span of two months Bangladesh was able to foray into this very regulated market with such a sensitive healthcare product, with just not ten or twenty thousand pieces but 6.5 million pieces. What an achievement,” he said, lauding Beximco for its contribution to the Bangladesh economy.
US Ambassador Miller said the event marked “the first major shipment of PPE into the US.” In which case, embattled US President Donald J. Trump may be expected to notice.
As the global spread of COVID-19 has bloomed into a pandemic, it has become clear that there will be a desperate need of PPE to keep medical professionals and the general public safe.
Beximco has proudly joined the fight against the pandemic by moving swiftly to add manufacturing capabilities in PPE items such as gowns, masks and coveralls, said Beximco CEO and Group Director Syed Naved Husain.
He said the COVID-19 had changed how the world works, and that Beximco had to urgently respond. “In just two months, we’ve unleashed our world-class manufacturing, technical and design talent to switch over and start making personal protection equipment and help increase the supply of PPE which is urgently needed in Bangladesh and worldwide.”
Husain also pitched that Bangladesh was well-positioned to become a new hub for PPE manufacturing. This would help keep people safe and secure worldwide while helping Bangladesh`s own economy and ensuring that the large workforce of 4.1M in the garment sector can still make a good livelihood.
"Everyone in Bangladesh wants to turn the tide and help save lives. Beximco is leading the way in this regard,” he added.
The US Ambassador said all this happened in less than two months.
“US welcomes Bangladesh’s world-class large-scale PPE production to the global marketplace. The Beximco-Hanes partnership is another great example of how our two great nations are combating the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
“Imagine, two months from the request from the US, Beximco and Bangladesh were nimble enough to turn production lines around so that we can put badly-needed PPE on this aircraft behind me and send it to the US. That’s absolute bureaucratic and entrepreneurial light speed.”
Speaking at the event, Dr Jamaluddin Ahmed, chairman of Janata Bank, said: “Janata Bank is proud to be associated with Beximco in financing them. We are going to finance the other exporters also as economic machine should run or else everything will fall apart.”
Managing Director of Beximco Pharma Nazmul Hassan MP termed the event historic. “Today we join the club of first-class large-scale PPE manufacturing countries.”
He said in the initial days of pandemic, there was huge local demand for PPE and Beximco took the initiative of providing PPE’s to local healthcare services through import.
“But there was severe shortage globally as demand was increasing. We, therefore, decided to manufacture them to meet the demand. Today we are not only providing these to our local healthcare services but also exporting them to very highly regulated sensitive markets.”
Beximco’s Textile Division is a heavyweight in the region, known to be one of South Asia`s largest, fastest, agile/flexible ,most innovative, and sustainable vertical Textile and Fashion Apparel manufacturing operations.
It employs 40,000 people, shipping around 400,000 garments daily to gold standard companies like Target, USA, Zara, Michael Kors, PVH, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Amazon, C&A.
Beximco has effectively leveraged their Best in Class Pharmaceutical division resources, combining those with the Textile Division to create the new Beximco PPE Division.
A new PPE Industrial Park is being rapidly set up 10 minutes away from Beximco Industrial Park (which is built like a campus on 350 Acres and is Certified Leeds Green).
Beximco has also established a strategic partnership with Chicago based Geste Designs and are examining the feasibility to jointly invest and establish a PPE manufacturing Hub in Detroit with support of the state of Michigan, and the city.
Geste is already supplying essential PPE to the city of Detroit.