QuizRR is a Swedish-founded start-up (in Hong Kong and Stockholm) that has come up with a successful method to assist brands and suppliers concerning, in particular, rights and responsibilities and worker engagement within the textile and food industries.
Global brands and companies engaging in emerging markets often struggle to comply with international conventions and national regulations on employment rights and sustainability standards. Workers in factories are often not aware of their rights and responsibilities. Human rights are being violated. Retail brands in for example Scandinavia are being accused of not taking their responsibility for their supply chain.
With this reality QuizzRR’s digital training kit of movies and quiz games appears to be godsend for those using it, so far in Bangladesh and China.
Its two Swedish founders, Jens Helmersson and Sofie Nordström, had, from their own experiences in Asia, discovered a great opportunity to be able to help many middle-sized companies to actually fully take their responsibility these otherwise do not really have the resources for.
“First and foremost the buyers – they might have one sustainability manager sitting somewhere in Sweden, having a hundred or so suppliers all over Asia or the whole world. How can you ensure that all those factories take responsibility? How can you ensure that their code of conduct actually is being lived up to? The suppliers have signed up to that they will train all their workers. But they have not had the tools helping them to do the training in a good way. And the providers have not been able to show pro-actively towards buyers that they do indeed take responsibility. So, we have created a tool that helps suppliers to train their employees in a good and flexible way and that also help them to summarise and share all data. That is also precisely what global purchasing from buyers wants to have,” begins Jens Helmersson.
There is also a business incentive; in that the suppliers get an opportunity to show the existing buyers, but also for potential new buyers, that they indeed take responsibility. And they can then see that: ‘It can actually generate more business; either more stable business with my existing buyers or to entice new ones.’
“The promise has already been there since a long time but there have not been opportunities always for providers to live up to the promises promises they have signed up to, lacking the right tools to assist them. Many suppliers signed up to the code of conduct requirements in order to get to deliver. Then, it’s not always the case that this is being followed in the way brands want,“ says the Swede who has himself worked with sourcing for two Swedish brands; the giant H&M as well as Indiska.
Jens and Sofie have extensive experience from the clothing industry and risk management in global supply chains, corporate responsibility and development of educational technology.
“We assist in creating transparency and help the providers in being able to show that they have undergone training. This has become a very important part for us after we started the first tool – to secure code of conduct for businesses, from which also our name derives; Quiz in Rights and Responsibilities,” says Jens.
When working for a big company, he explains, one has a mandate to say that one will work only with those factories that show they want to take shared responsibility – which then agree to try it; undergoing training of workers about work safety and work place dialogue. Movies that Sofie had made were used by H&M for that at factories in Bangladesh – which is also how the two met.
Six months into it Jens noted that it had not led to any of the problems the suppliers had feared. “It actually had the opposite effect; we could see that it lowered staff turnover. We also noticed that factories got to know about problems faster than they previously did. And employees felt more satisfied and that they were listened to in the workplace, it also led to them returning to work after holiday breaks. Thanks to keeping the good workers, factories got better quality and better productivity and business in the end.”
“It was very satisfying to experience that – because many claim that sustainability costs money. I felt after gaining those insights that this was a business case as such – an opportunity for companies to create safety and stability and that generates better business.”
It is also important for the case that few companies have the resources that big brands possess. “I had realised that there are very few companies who have the resources on the level of H&M – a company with hundreds of people working on assisting factories in becoming better, being out looking a production and discussing how to take things further. When working at Indiska, and when talking to other purchasing managers, I understood quite soon that the resources are simply not there to take the same type of responsibility. Other larger companies are unique in the sense that they can dedicate large resources to this matter.”
Then, meeting with Sofie who had been in Bangladesh and had done those movies she told him: ‘I would like to take my ability to make inspiring movies to more companies; I would like to help more workers.’
Jens also felt strongly for these questions: “I feel that what we did for H&M in Bangladesh back then, and that they have been working on during a very long period, has been setting new standards on many issues. They have always dedicated lots of resources and there has always been a part of the core business being about doing responsible business. And I always felt that it was in the interest of the owners of the company, a human aspect just as important as the business aspect.”
“And when I grew up it was always a natural part that when doing business one conducts it in a responsible and respectful manner towards others. So perhaps that is more why I ended up in this industry together with Sofie,” he reflects.
Together the two then set out on developing their start-up concept. “How could we ensure not being dependent on other companies’ money in order to spread knowledge? We came up with the solution to make movies with local actors and in local languages, and also to combine that with a quiz game that enables to measure the knowledge of the person playing and that this knowledge can be summarised and shown online for the factory to see, while at the same time sharing that data with the buyers. There, all stakeholders have a transparent way to see that a factory has undergone training, which creates a safety between buyer and producer that you do not have today.”
“I had felt at Indiska a lack of tools helping either me as a buyer or the suppliers, , and if you do not have a lot of resources and can have people on the ground in every country where you are sourcing you get a situation where it is very difficult to address these issues. So, we have then assisted to ensure that the suppliers have a good tool in their factory. They work via tablets, they watch movies, play a quiz game and we collect everything and measure all data. On our portal both buyers and suppliers can meet – a safety for the buyer,” explains Jens.
“I feel that the key in our tool, aside the measurability and IT structure, is the movies and the way in which we train factories today. That makes us unique and is also why many factory owners and especially workers are so happy over this training.”
After launching in China, it was introduced also in Bangladesh and for each country local legislation as well as tonality is taken into consideration.
“We approach the brands and tell them that we have a solution that will enable them to get better insights about their providers and help them be able to measure that they in fact take responsibility for workers’ rights and duties in the factories that they use.”
“Many companies in the Nordics start to feel that it is growing into being part of their core business, as they understand that there is an enormous risk in being scrutinised by media and a branding risk factor today, and that one needs to find ways to safeguard factories and act in the proper way towards them. At the same time, you have a strong interest in going away from what has previously been a strong focus on audits,” continues the Swede. “That system does not really give the changes most brands would like to see happening. They increasingly understand the need to start educating instead, both workers and management in factories, to get better knowledge and dialogue. That in turn will long-term also lead to other positive changes at the factory, also a functioning dialogue and finding better ways to retain staff. Good quality and productivity benefit not only the factory but also the buyers.”
“We have already trained over 40 000 people and it makes me feel very good to know that these are people who did not previously know their rights. To start a company from nothing to today’s 18 employees and be on two markets and expanding continuously requires a lot of effort and energy! Then one needs to have some results like that to really keep going.”
Thailand is next
QuizRR also realised quite soon that there were many more needs. “Our second solution is work place dialogue, which helps workers in factories to understand what it means and how to go about it. All the things that help factories to listen to and have a dialogue with their workers are what we want to assist in putting in place.”
QuizzRR also has a wage management solution for China. Next up is a rights and responsibility solution for Thailand together with some larger food companies in Sweden, Norway and Denmark and Finland.
“We are now developing this together with the companies – which is how we have gone about developing all our tools, because then we get everything included that they feel needs to be safeguarded, based in turn on what customers demand from them. Also, many employees at these brands are very good at these issues, so we can also get help in securing that we really get in relevant content for the tool.”