Although Ayesha Abed founded Aarong in 1978, the history of Aarong dates back to 1972 when BRAC was established in Bangladesh. As a non-profit organization BRAC and the organization’s founder Hasan Abed has hitherto worked to eradicate poverty in Bangladesh. As one of their initiative, Ayesha Abed, the wife of Hasan Abed founded Aarong in 1978 and since then, Aarong became one of the retail chains for BRAC. However, in light of Aarong’s novelty and originality in approaching the problem, the organization is not just a trivial chain under the umbrella of the most well known NGO in Bangladesh. Rather, it is a retail chain that has the most accountability to ensure a room for relaxation for women.
Mennonite Central Committee and the work of Ayesha Abed
Aarong first entered to the market when BRAC decided to create a joint venture with Mennonite Central Committee to provide a means of financial support to Aarong. While Mennonite Central Committee focused on their business operation, BRAC worked on breeding up talented craftsmen to display new product lines. These craftsmen educated thousands of women willing to be a fundamental part of the company’s production of goods, generating more and more products as well as increasing their production capabilities.
Ayesha Abed Foundation (AAF) also played a role in assisting women in every aspect. Being founded in 1982 to commemorate the works of Ayesha Abed, AAF provided means of salutary working conditions, technical and economic assistance to their employees. By 1983, Aarong operated mainly under AAF. Since their first project in Manikgani centered, AAF pushed ahead Aarong to the position of being the most well known fashion chain in Bangladesh.
The term ‘Aarong’ means ‘village fair’. So far, the products generated through village fair have been a cutting edge to BRAC. With its emphasis on originality and novelty, Aarong makes product such as jamdani, muslin, embroidered goods, kantha, baskets, and various other items made up of bamboo and plants. In particular, these products not only generate profits for social enterprise but also take a part in preserving Bangladesh’s culture by revitalizing traditional products like jamdani, which was almost at the line of being oblivious.