Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

Boost Returns and Sustainability: Investing in Community-Owned Childcare for Industrial Parks' Workforce


Plan International is spearheading initiatives to enhance the prospects for young women to leverage the economic growth potential offered by industrial parks. The goal is to ensure that these innovations not only benefit the women but also contribute positively to the local businesses and communities in the region. The Hawassa Industrial Park, developed in collaboration with the U.S. government and The Children’s Place, exemplifies this approach with its community-based childcare model, demonstrating favorable economic outcomes for women, children, and the private sector in Ethiopia.
The Government of Ethiopia has allocated nearly $1 billion to invest in 32 industrial parks, primarily focusing on textile manufacturing, where 94% of the workforce comprises females, with three-fourths falling in the 18-24 age group. While these investments are intended to transform the economy and alleviate poverty, realizing the full benefits of these goals necessitates unconventional support systems.
To enhance worker performance, productivity, and retention at the Hawassa Industrial Park, Plan and USAID have collaboratively established a worker wellness program. This program ensures that potential employees comprehend their future roles and have access to local services. Given that most employees relocate to be closer to the plant, the program facilitates connections with fair housing, imparts an understanding of the community, and provides guidance on accessing essential needs. For the predominantly young and female workforce at Hawassa, this includes childcare services and early childhood development programs.
In partnership with The Children’s Place, childcare centers have been established to support over 200 children annually. Employees have reported reduced absenteeism, improved productivity, and increased engagement in work, resulting in higher wages.
Adrian Sherman, Vice President of Environment & Social Responsibility at The Children’s Place, highlighted the impact of a shortage of quality early childhood care and education on the predominantly young women workforce at Ethiopia’s Hawassa Industrial Park. By establishing a safe and reliable daycare center, the impact has been mitigated, contributing to the advancement of gender equality and financial independence for women in the region. The collaboration with Plan International is seen as a source of pride, actively promoting worker well-being and providing families with a dependable and nurturing childcare option in Hawassa.
As industrial parks continue to expand across Africa, there is an opportunity to replicate this childcare service model to achieve improved outcomes for women, children, and private sector partners.
“Sending my child to the Plan run childcare center in Cheffe is the single most important decision I have made in my life,” said Debretu, a 24-year-old operator at a garment manufacturing company.

“The Center has made it possible for me to work and at the same time, for my child to be in a safe and caring environment. As you can imagine, I can now work free of any stress and give my best to my job.” 
By allocating resources to establish community-owned and operated childcare services tailored to the workforce demographics of industrial parks, companies can maximize their returns on investments while advancing sustainable ESG goals. For individuals like Debretu, particularly young women, this investment holds significance for both their personal and their children's future prospects.