Linking ethical fashion enterprises in Myanmar to global markets

This partnership targets women's economic empowerment and access to services by working with women in rural Myanmar. The partnership works with women producing textiles and accessories to: strengthen their products and link them to markets; and build their knowledge of rights, access to services and improved opportunities within value chains.

The partnership builds on work supported by ActionAid Myanmar through the Livelihoods and Food Security Trust (LIFT) program since 2013. It supports women from ethnic minorities whose capacity to produce traditional textiles is limited by isolation and lack of capital for inputs, storage and transportation, as well as limited capacity to negotiate and achieve fair prices.

Progress update

January 2018

A new production house was built for the women producers and a mentor was brought in to improve production processes. The partners built relationships with export clientele in Australia and Canada. Training in marketing, sales and English continued at MBoutik, with 240 participants trained to date. Digital marketing by partners reached an online audience of nearly 1 million and engaged 57,000 new audience members. During the reporting period, 55 MBoutik items sold.

Key activities

  • A production mentor was brought in to improve production processes around quality control and communications.
  • A new production house was built in Kyit Tee and new equipment was added.
  • New export relationships were formed with two boutiques and a fabric buyer from Australia, along with Kanekta, a Canadian online ethical trade show.
  • The Women Craft Producers’ Association (WCPA) delivered a week-long training in marketing, sales and English at the MBoutik shop.
  • The Fabric Social and ActionAid Australia conducted joint digital marketing activities. A new website and future marketing activity is being developed for MBoutik.

July 2017

ActionAid, the Fabric Social (TFS) and MBoutik have launched the “Rise” campaign. MBoutik has gained an export client, access to the international market and commenced initial sales.

Key activities

  • Trained and directly employed 45 women (25 tailors and 20 weavers).
  • Placed the first product order with MBoutik for fabric and construction of 200 pieces for the Rise Collection (20 weavers were directly involved in material production; 25 tailors participated in training and production).
  • Achieved 29 sales and developed a sales strategy to push into the US market as the Australian autumn/ winter season closes.

Partnership aims

  • Support women's economic empowerment by linking rural women producers in Myanmar to a new and dynamic global ethical fashion enterprise.
  • Contribute to the promotion of peace and security, through stronger economic growth.
  • Expand the partnership to states affected by instability and conflict.
  • Address constraints caused by the lack of gender equality in the economy.  


Private sector funding


DFAT funding


Total Value



Start date: September 2016

End date: December 2017

Industry sector

Economic Growth; Gender


This partnership supports women's economic empowerment by linking rural women producers in Myanmar to a new and dynamic global ethical fashion enterprise. It will reach approximately 1500 rural women and their families, who are living in poverty and are existing producers of unique textiles with significant market potential.

Shared value

Shared value is defined as policies and practices that enhance the competitiveness of companies while improving social and environmental conditions in the regions where they operate. It is a business strategy focused on companies creating measurable economic benefit by identifying and addressing social problems that intersect with their business. To qualify as shared value, there must be an identifiable economic benefit to the company as well as measurable impact on a social or environmental issue.

The BPP is helping businesses partner with the Australian aid program in achieving shared value – advancing both social and economic objectives. These partnerships are primarily being created in one or more of the following ways:

  • Reconceiving products and/or markets
  • Redefining productivity in the value chain
  • Enabling local cluster development
Action Aid Fabric Social woman sewing

Reconceiving products or/and markets

The partnership initiative draws on design skills within The Fabric Social (TFS) and MBoutik to develop two new garment and accessory collections for an international online market. Products will be designed to respond to the choices of the TFS-identified market segment, which comprises young women.

Action Aid woman with textile production Myanmar

Redefining productivity in the value chain

The initiative will positively impact women living in the Myanmar Dryzone. Training will be provided to tailors, weavers and leaders from within those groups. Training and mentoring will be provided in production of goods for sale. Leaders will receive intensive training in business to facilitate the take up of new management opportunities within MBoutik. 

Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment

Women in the Myanmar Dryzone have limited opportunities within the formal economy. The initiative will provide opportunities for women to realise their rights through economic empowerment, through income, skills development and opportunities. Women in the Myanmar Dryzone will gain opportunities to develop and practice skills in weaving, tailoring, business, marketing and e-commerce. Women will gain training in business management and fair work practices enabling them to take up leadership positions within MBoutik. In these leadership roles, women will gain greater community respect and opportunity to influence decision-makers and policies to support women.

Partner information

The partnership is between ActionAid, The Fabric Social (TFS), MBoutik and DFAT.

Main partners


Action Aid woman in Myanmar with handicrafts  


ActionAid is an international anti-poverty agency, fighting poverty for over 30 years. Today, ActionAid reaches 25 million people in over 40 countries worldwide. ActionAid Myanmar coordinates activities within Myanmar, mobilising women from existing producer networks with TFS for technical support, and training and supporting TFS through its expertise in the local context with a focus on women's rights.

The Fabric Social (TFS)

Action Aid woman sewing in Myanmar  

The Fabric Social 

TFS is an ethical fashion social enterprise and design label working with conflict-affected women to end their economic isolation. TFS generates income and opportunity by selling clothing to the international market, but primarily to Australia.  TFS brings to the partnership valuable skills in an aid for trade context, as well as networks for building knowledge, and access to markets through its online store. TFS supports MBoutik to develop systems for quality control and product development compliant with international standards.

Other partners



MBoutik is the brand developed by the women craft producers’ network in Myanmar’s DryZone with the support of ActionAid Myanmar and the LIFT innovation fund. The network has developed a commercial operation linking tourist consumers to partnerships with Myanmar tourism authorities and hotels.

Last Updated: 30 January 2018