Sustainable Garment Education & Production

Projected to be located in the immediate vicinity of our other SGC projects, the sustainable garment education and production facility will be instrumental to the success of the overall system. Initially intended to offer approximately 300 people from the region an opportunity to train and to work for fair compensation under humane conditions, the facility is supposed to generate regular, calculable profits that will be allocated to covering the operating costs of the village school project.


Accounting for 80 % of its exports, the textile industry is Cambodia’s main source of export revenue. Cambodia is well-known for the fact that especially women and girls are exploited in the growing textile industry without any workprotection and insurance. Day by day, hundreds of thousands of people from poor rural areas are trucked to the textile factories in the suburbs of Phnom Penh where they work in what can only be described as sweatshops, earning barely enough to survive. The textile industry is a sector whose proceeds do not beneft the people of Cambodia – quite the contrary: the profts are generated on the backs and at the expense of the workers. At the present time, the minimum wages earned by the garment workers in Cambodia are not anywhere close to affording them a living that is ft for human beings.

Predominantly recruited from areas in the countryside, most of the nearly 600,000 women working at the textile factories are the main bread winner in the family. Worse yet, they are forced to work in conditions that are likely to harm their health and safety. Exposed to uncomfortable chairs, heat, pressure of time, poor ventilation or the impact of handling harmful chemicals 14 hours a day, seven days a week, female Cambodian workers often harbour feelings for utter hopelessness and desperation. The health and safety standards applicable in Cambodia are exceptionally poor. Worse yet, compliance with these insuffcient standards is not at all or hardly ever confrmed.
With its «Sustainable Garment Education & Production» project (SGEP), SGC wants to break this vicious cycle.


We want to offer well organized systematic training for textile workers in the garment industry for young cambodians so that they can subsequently make a living based on their education and skills. The projected sustainable garment education and production facility will play a vital role as an additional pillar in our overall cluster concept. Initially, the business is to employ and to train around 300 local people, paying fair wages and offering equally fair and safe working conditions (if necessary, the factory can be extended in the future). Smiling Gecko provides the infrastructure (including comfortable housing with common and recreational rooms for the workforce) and defnes the framework conditions for the operator. SGC also commits the producers to have their textile products tested and certifed by Bluesign System, an independent standards organisation for sustainably produced clothing.

The production facility offers in-house support programs that are intended to give talented and creative members of the staff an opportunity to flourish and hone their skills. It, furthermore, provides graduates of the village

school project with additional training if they wish to enter into a sustainable garment production career that matches their individual predilections and talents.

In the long run, the income from leasing the infrastructure and from the licences issued is supposed to cover the operating costs of the school house project.

The goal behind the «Sustainable Garment Education & Production» pursued by SGC is to improve the income of people in rural regions and to attain the goal of economic proftability, which also represents a key objective of developmental aid. NGOs such as SGC, therefore, always need to keep the long-term outcomes of their work in focus.

Through these schemes, SGC will ensure that its development aid projects will have lasting positive outcomes for both individuals and the local community.


The textile factory is planned in close proximity to the other projects operated by SGC. It will be built in up to three staggered phases from 2018 on. The entire factory complex is designed in close cooperation with the ETH Zurich (Department of Architecture and Construction) under the direction of Professor Dirk E. Hebel. All workers will enjoy safe and comfortable work places. Modelled after the drafts prepared for the Village School Project, the architecture is characterised by minimalistic modular standard elements that can be produced using simple means.

Construction relies on regional building materials and takes the local climatic conditions carefully into consideration. Key components of the construction such as the supporting columns and the roof construction can – similarly to the village school project – be manufactured and installed by Smiling Gecko’s own carpentry workshop. Around the factory hall, a number of dwellings, communal facilities and recreational rooms for workers are projected to be built.


With «Sustainable Garment Education & Production», Smiling Gecko aims to prove that it is defnitely possible to create a fair income structure and humane work terms and conditions in Cambodia’s workplace and in the educational and/or vocational training environment, while remaining economical and competitive.

All staff and apprentices have regulated work and rest/break schedules. A 40-hour work week is in plan. Breaks can be enjoyed, either indoors in communal rooms or outdoors. A balanced diet of the workforce with 3 meals per day is ensured by the canteen operated by Smiling Gecko. All staff and apprentices will have social insurance, including compulsory health insurance and maternity benefts protection. Local medical care will be provided by the Smiling Gecko health station which is currently in planning.

To ensure the long-term success of the Sustainable Garment Education & Production project, SGC has teamed up with a number of renowned organisations. SGC is currently in negotiations with renowned textile manufatoring companies regarding the operation of the training and production facilities. The project is supported by the ILO (International Labour Organisation), the IFC (International Finance Cooperation) and the Fair Wear Foundation. But that is not all: SGC has also undertaken to have the operator’s textile products tested and certifed by Bluesign System, an independent standards organisation for sustainably produced clothing. Bluesign promotes the ethical production of textiles. To obtain the Bluesign mark, manufacturers must refrain from using polluting or otherwise harmful substances in their production processes.