Currently, more than 52 percent of the textile and apparel sector’s labor force has taken part in the program. “This represents around 38 thousand employees that have been trained to improve the working environment, and we are working with 23 of the 47 production plants in the country”, highlighted Elena Arengo, Coordinator of the Better Work program in Nicaragua.
The apparel industry is one of Nicaragua’s most important manufacturing sectors in terms of employment generation and national income. Production plants are located in four major areas of the country—mainly in Managua, Masaya, Granada and the Pacific coast; investors are mainly North American, Nicaraguan, Mexican, Korean and Taiwanese.
Within the global apparel industry, Nicaragua has a competitive advantage based on its proximity to the US market, its low labor costs and the financial incentives offered to investors within the export processing zones. In terms of textile and apparel exports, Nicaragua reached US$1,540 million in 2013, 6 percent more than in 2012.
Nicaragua is one of the seven countries in the world that have implemented the Better Work program, having joined in 2011. The other countries with Better Work programs are Cambodia, Haiti, Indonesia, Jordan, Lesotho and Vietnam.
The Better Work program has been operational since 2009 and aims to have a significant and direct impact through its own country-based programs in the garment sector, as well as indirect impact through its influence, knowledge sharing and partnerships.