Mother House in Bangladesh and Japan

Facing the Reality in the Field
Bangladesh is one of the poorest counties in Asia. It is also the most densely populated major country in the world, where, 115 million people still live on less than US$2 per day. A Japanese woman named Eriko Yamaguchi, came up with a way to affect sustainable change with a social enterprise.
When Eriko first arrived at the airport in Bangladesh, she was quickly surrounded by people begging for food and money. She was struck by the number of people without hands or legs, and was shocked to learn that there was no funding to reach these people.
Special Product Helps the Country
One day, when she was shopping, she found a bag, which was made from jute, a plant fibre that is largely imported from India and Bangladesh. There is little awareness about this, among Bangladeshis, but jute is a very eco-friendly fibre because it can absorb 5-6 times more CO2 than other plants and it is biodegradable. Eriko came up with the idea of making bags with this special product in Bangladesh, with the material from Bangladesh, made by locals, and to sell in developed countries. She did not want customers in developed countries to buy the bags out of charity, she wanted people to buy them because they liked them.  
Giving Innovations for Local People
At first, it was very hard to find reliable local businesses and people to cooperate with her. Some people just took her money and disappeared. Others stole her samples. However, one factory understood that her dream could help make the country better.
Turning her idea into reality proved much more difficult than expected. The team had never manufactured products for developed countries before, and did not always understand why they had to care so much about the detailed processes that went into making bags to be sold in a country like Japan. The quality of products in Japan are typically much higher than in Bangladesh, and since the image of Bangladesh is the “poorest country in Asia,” the bags had to be both aesthetically pleasing and of high quality to be successful in Japan.

After many failures and challenges, Eriko finally opened “Mother House” in Japan. Most businesses in developing countries do not provide opportunities for workers to interact with customers, but Mother House is different. Workers in Bangladesh regularly meet their customers and discuss how to create better products. This close tie between users and creators enable them to make the best possible quality products, and offers creators high motivations to work hard.  


Eriko’s dream created another dream for workers in Bangladesh. Her story shows us how introducing a new business in developing countries with local people can help reduce dependence on aid and empower communities to make their own decisions. Today, Mother House’s factory in Bangladesh is recognized as one of the best places to work in Bangladesh. The excellent environment has played a key role in the development of excellence products.
Have you considered what types of products or materials can help make a small eco-friendly business in your country? You might discover an innovative opportunity to start a new business that can help communities to become stronger!