Responsible and Accountable Garment Sector challenge fund

Fund for projects aimed at improving conditions of workers in ready-made garment production sector. It is not open for new applications.

This guidance was withdrawn on

The fund is now closed

The Responsible and Accountable Garment Sector (RAGS) challenge fund is an active fund, however it is not currently open to applications. RAGS supports projects aimed at improving conditions of vulnerable workers in the ready-made garment (RMG) production sector. The fund aims to benefit workers in low- and lower-middle-income countries in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa that supply the UK market. For DFID funding information visit the DFID Funding Finder


The aim of RAGS is to make responsible and ethical production the norm in the garment manufacturing sector supplying the UK.

RAGS plays an important part in the Sustainable Clothing Roadmap, a voluntary clothing industry initiative established by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and implemented by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), Defra’s delivery body, to improve the environmental and ethical performance of clothing. This is being done by:

  • establishing sound evidence on key impacts and where action will be most effective
  • agreeing various actions in priority areas (individual organisations and industry wide)
  • providing a platform to disseminate industry best practice as case studies to catalyse change throughout the sector


RAGS is funded by UKaid from the Department for International Development (DFID). Grants are made to companies, non-governmental organisation (NGOs) and/or trade unions that commit to demonstrating sustainable improvements in the working conditions of garment workers in countries supplying the UK market.

Funds are made available on a cost-sharing basis. This means that for every grant made the grant holder (company, NGO or trade union) must match public funds with their own finance or in-kind contribution or other source(s) of funding.

A call for grant applications took place in 2010 and 11 approved projects from this call are currently being implemented. No further calls for grant applications are being considered.


RAGS is managed by Maxwell Stamp PLC.

Project partners

The fund supports initiatives in poorer African and Asian countries supplying the UK market and is open to companies, trade unions and NGOs working to improve labour conditions in the garment sector. The fund promotes ethical trading principles, but also includes some projects that work specifically in Fairtrade-certified supply chains.

RAGS projects are led by:

Project locations

RAGS supports projects located in low-income and lower-middle-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia (excluding China). Supported projects are being implemented in the following 4 countries:

  • Bangladesh
  • India
  • Lesotho
  • Nepal


RAGS supports projects that aim to develop or scale up responsible labour practices beyond a single workplace. The 7 key areas of intervention that RAGS funds are as follows:

  • building skills in garment production management: building the capabilities of RMG garments managers and homeworkers in poorer countries in a variety of areas, including production planning, quality management, and the organisation of production lines
  • adopting better people management skills: building the skills and capacity of managers in RMG factories in poorer countries to adopt better people management systems and better industrial relations
  • harmonising codes and audit requirements: harmonising or standardising private and retailer codes so that one audit is recognised by many buyers
  • building awareness of workers’ rights and the capacity to enforce them: empowering women and other vulnerable workers to claim their worker rights through a variety of ways including improvements in collective organisation and knowledge of relevant labour laws, and improved capacity to negotiate and mediate with management
  • strengthening local audit capacity: improving the skills and capacity of labour inspectors in the countries of intervention to ensure factories and workplaces comply with national and international labour standards
  • capacity building and reach on fair trade principles: building awareness of fair trade principles in the UK and in the country of intervention concerned by improving the quality and design of products made by women and vulnerable RMG workers
  • developing of training tools to assist replication and expansion of effective approaches: designing and delivering of training and capacity building initiatives to workers and managers in order to replicate or scale up existing activities

Detailed information on each of the 11 projects is available from the links below:

Areas not covered by RAGS

RAGS does not support projects aimed at improving working conditions in raw materials and fibre production, the wider textiles sector, footwear and accessories, and leather goods other than clothing. Similarly, RAGS does not support projects addressing other social responsibility concerns, such as environmental issues, or proposals aimed at improving the working conditions of non-vulnerable workers.


Most projects commenced in December 2010 and their lengths range from 2 to 2.5 years. All projects are expected to end by 30 September 2013.

Values of projects and grant size

RAGS provides grants ranging from £50,000 to £250,000. Eleven projects valued at over £5 million have been approved to date in which DFID is funding over half (57%) or around £2.9 million of their total costs. The average size of a project supported by RAGS is £456,724, of which approximately £238,000 is the average amount of matched funding committed by us per project.

At this time, RAGS is not accepting new grant applications. Please contact the fund manager for further information.

Project co-ordination

RAGS projects are managed from London, with the support of 2 country co-ordinators based in India and Bangladesh. The role of the country co-ordinators is to assist the RAGS fund manager in the following tasks and activities:

  • creating a network of RAGS grant holders in India and Bangladesh
  • collecting case studies on project lessons and project management for wider dissemination
  • ensuring appropriate collaboration between projects; in particular, to avoid duplication of project scope and work with partners/stakeholders
  • acting as liaison points between our country offices and RAGS projects
  • acting as representatives of RAGS within India and Bangladesh, respectively, to field press requests and inform other interested local stakeholders, etc
  • undertaking site visits at the fund manager’s request to support monitoring and evaluation of supported projects
  • assisting with the organisation of in-country outreach and dissemination events as part of the RAGS communications strategy

The 2 co-ordinators have been in place since October 2011 and more information about and progress made to date with the RAGS coordination mechanisms in Bangladesh and India can be obtained from the RAGS fund manager.

Monitoring progress and learning lessons

Each project supported by RAGS has its own logical framework (logframe), which is used as the basis for both monitoring its progress and gauging its impact. Where appropriate individual project logframes include a combination of the following ILO Decent Work indicators and project-specific indicators:

  • number of workers affected/reached (measured by type of work and gender of worker)
  • percentage of workers receiving at least minimum wage (as defined in the relevant country of intervention)
  • percentage of workers receiving overtime due
  • percentage of workers working more than 60 hours per week
  • percentage of workplaces audited showing incidence of child labour

Grantees are required to submit monthly and quarterly reports to the RAGS fund management team. These aid on-going monitoring and allow issues to be flagged and discussed with grantees on a regular basis. The RAGS fund management team also undertakes regular, in-country project visits, further enhancing the monitoring function.

In addition to project specific logframes developed by the grantees themselves, a meta-logframe has been developed for the overall programme. While this logframe includes project-specific indicators it allows us and the fund management team to track the performance of RAGS as an integrated programme.

Lesson learning

The ultimate purpose of RAGS is to identify and develop scalable and replicable interventions in key labour areas through the projects it supports and to be a catalyst for change in the working conditions of women and other vulnerable workers across the ready-made garment sector. Lesson learning is therefore a critical part of the overall success of RAGS and its sustainability after the programme has ended.

To this end, a number of learning and dissemination events have and will be organised over the lifetime of RAGS. Two UK-based events were held in November 2010 and May 2012, respectively, and in-country seminars were held in India and Bangladesh in November 2011. Two final in-country lesson learning events will take place in November 2013. A final UK-based lesson learning event in planned for the last week of November 2013.

The objective of the final UK-based event will be to distil concrete lessons learned from across the RAGS project portfolio and to discuss ways in which the sustainability of RAGS-supported interventions may be carried forward into the future. A report showcasing case studies, lessons learned and best practices that evolved during the life of RAGS is available below.

RAGS contact information

For more information about RAGS, please contact the RAGS fund manager:

Dave Runganaikaloo
RAGS fund manager
Maxwell Stamp PLC
Abbot’s Court
34 Farringdon Lane
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 207 251 0147 Fax: +44 207 251 0140


RAGS information on Development Tracker

Updates to this page

Published 25 March 2013
Last updated 26 August 2014 + show all updates
  1. Lesson learning report added.

  2. First published.

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