Suraiya Haque

Year founded: 

Through on-site daycare services in factories, businesses and government offices, Phulki helps secure a future for children while their mothers earn a living.

Focus: Labour Conditions and Unemployment, Women
Geographic Area of Impact: Bangladesh
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 12,300 (2009)
Annual Budget: US$ 407,874
Percentage Earned Revenue: 20%
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2001

An organized job sector for women was created in Bangladesh with over 3,000 garment manufacturing industries employing approximately 1.6 million workers. The majority of these women live in urban slums without their extended family and lack access to childcare, particularly care that allows them to breastfeed their infants while they are at work. Based on her own experience as a mother in the workforce, Suraiya Haque founded Phulki to help other women in Bangladesh gain the benefits of employment without having to deprive their babies and young children of essential nutritional care and attention. As a result, banks, government offices, hospitals and NGOs today offer on-site childcare facilities.

Innovation and Activities
Phulki has pioneered daycare for the children of women employed in factories, businesses and government offices in Bangladesh. The organization currently operates 130 childcare facilities and provides training in daycare management so employers can run them independently if they so choose. Phulki has convinced factory owners that by investing in childcare they not only provide essential life benefits for their employees, but they themselves benefit from a workforce that is happier, more productive and has lower rates of absenteeism.

Phulki either manages the daycare centre for a fee or trains company personnel to do so. While factories provide the space, start-up costs and caretaker salaries, mothers supply the food for the children. The organization is now franchising the model in other cities and is working to scale-up childcare facilities in garment factories and cover other sectors in Bangladesh.

The Entrepreneur
Suraiya Haque had a privileged upbringing. At the age of 16, while still in school, she had an arranged marriage as was the prevailing custom. After getting married she was not allowed to continue her education. However, she returned to school at the age of 24 and worked on a voluntary basis in different social organizations as her children grew up. In 1991, Haque started her first daycare centre in her garage. From its very modest beginning, Phulki is leading the way for women's empowerment in the workplace. Haque dreams of a world where working women will not have to forego their children's well-being for economic reasons. Part of this dream is starting to come true - Bangladesh’s prime minister recently declared in a public meeting that every office should have a daycare centre on their premises. Haque's work is changing government policy and bringing a degree of gender balance to the country.