The future is bright – Update on Esprit’s “YES Center“ Project

In 2016 Esprit launched its educational project “YES Center - Youth Empowerment through Skills” with the objective to give qualification to young people in selected Esprit supplier countries with limited education opportunities. In the same year, the first school opened in Bangladesh. A second school followed in Pakistan in 2017. Up to three additional schools are planned. The YES Center in Bangladesh has been open for almost two years, and the first students are now entering professional life. Social and environmental commitment is part of Esprit’s DNA. Esprit is convinced that education is the main key to develop both production regions as well as the people. Education enables people to improve their social and economic situation. With its Yes Center educational project, Esprit especially supports young women, who often face reduced access to education, enabling them to take a first step in the direction of economic independence. The focus of the Yes Center education projects lies on conveying know-how within the textile industry, e.g. safety and quality management. However, the graduates will be qualified for positions with more responsibility, not just in the textile industry, but for higher educational schools and universities.
Within the YES Center project, Esprit finances schools in selected supplier countries for two years through the Esprit Cares Trust. Esprit works closely and cooperates with different local partners who provide support implementing and building up the project and they have a significant influence on the syllabus and educational program. This is one of the reasons that students have a high success rate to get a job afterwards or to being released to local partners.
The first Yes Center was opened in Cox Bazaar in Bangladesh and has trained 400 young students in six different subjects over the last two years. 60% of the students were girls and young women. The students received life skills training including courses on human rights, gender equality, self-confidence and work safety. The aim is to enable them not only to contribute to the economic development but also the social development of their families and society. Besides that, subjects such as safety and quality management, as well as English, computer training, accounting formed the curriculum. The program focused on local outreach and round tables with communities, schools and the media, also to encourage women’s participation in the economic development. Now, after completing the training from the YES Centre students have gone on to employment in the government, NGOs, the business sector or they started their own businesses. A number of students are working with various organizations on emergency response programs for the Rohingya refugees.

YES Center student Sumi Akhter explains, “Before participating in the life skills training, I did not know how to make a plan, how to split a big plan into smaller action steps and how all detailed plans can be realized. However, life skills training helped me to understand it. This training built up my confidence, my presentation skills, my self-respect and gave me a sense of dignity. The YES Center Cox’s Bazaar provided us with a life skills training which helped me to develop so many aspects of my personality.”

The funding of the YES Center was made possible by the Esprit Cares Trust, which was founded in 1993 with the objective of supporting charity-related activities. All projects funded through the Esprit Cares Trust are committed to charitable activities. After the successful openings of schools in Bangladesh in 2016 and Pakistan in 2017, YES Centers in India and Vietnam and a second center in Bangladesh will be open soon.