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Brazil Has Turned Blockchain Into Supply Chain Mapping Tool

In Brazil, blockchain is closing the gap between consumers and the skilled hands behind their garments.

Since 2014 when it got off with ground with roughly $18,000 in seed funding, Brazil’s Instituto Alinha has been dedicated to supporting small garment factories by “no longer accepting the fashion industry as it is, with thousands of workers still living in precarious conditions and forced to accept exhaustive working hours,” according to its website.

Instead, Alinha’s mission is to help the owners of Brazil’s small apparel manufacturers better regulate their businesses, and it plays matchmaker by connecting them to “brands that value labor relations in the supply chain.”

Now, Alinha said it’s using a blockchain-based platform to further support its roster of 27 small business and 126 laborers, an effort that began last year.

Consumers want to know more about the story behind the clothing they buy, according the Brazilian social business, which says in its manifesto that the Alinha tag is “for those who…questioned” the often inhumane reality of apparel production—especially in developing countries.

To participate in Alinha’s blockchain system, brands must subscribe to a plan affording access to the tags. When they’re ready to get started, brands enter all of relevant data about the garments into Alinha’s system along with details about the factory tapped to produce the order, which notifies the manufacturer that work is coming in.

But nothing really starts until the factory owner review the order and service conditions, and vetoes or approves the work, Alinha noted, ensuring that everyone is on the same page from day one. Only at the production validation stage are “blockchain-generated tracking codes” applied to the garments. Consumers who purchase an Alinha-tagged garment enter the tracking code on the Brazilian non-profit’s website “to read the story behind the clothing they just purchased,” the company said.

Alinha assesses potential factories with a five-star rating as the highest possibility, and three stars still gives manufacturers the chance to make the cut. Factory owners who want to participate in the social business’s compliance program must complete entrepreneurship courses, have the right legal and tax paperwork in order, ensure the facility’s electrical wiring is up to code and meet occupational health and safety standards. Alinha also monitors prospects to see that their facilities are well organized and that “unfair working conditions” are eradicated.

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The four-year-old firm, whose approved factory clients dot the Sao Paulo metropolitan area, sees blockchain as a viable way to bring consumers into supply chain transparency and shed light on how their clothing comes to be.

“Thanks to Blockchain, it is possible to map out supply chains and share decentralized or disconnected information,” Alinha said on its website.

And the Brazilian business’s manifesto reminds consumers “before buying a new outfit, think about what story you would like to wear.”