MCC Photo/Silas CrewsFerdoushi Howlader, MCC Bangladesh job creation project supervisor, walks past the entrance to MCC's research and design facility in Mymensingh, Bangladesh. MCC also created a fiber research center to develop new materials and techniques for processing pineapple and banana leaf fibers used in creating thread, yarn and fabrics. MCC Photo/Maggie RobleroThe MCC research and design facility also works with partners to develop products out of recycled and natural materials. Hasna Begum paints a papier-mâché elephant for a partner project. (Begum is a common surname in Bangladesh) Many of the handicrafts are exported to fair trades stores around the world including Ten Thousand Villages. MCC Photo/Silas CrewsBundles of pineapple leaves are stacked for processing. Custom machinery was developed, starting in 2007, to turn the various plant leaves into fiber. Bangladesh is one of few countries producing material out of these exotic fibers. MCC Photo/Silas CrewsNazma Begum, left, and Beauty Begum operate a machine that crushes leaves and separates the fiber used to make thread. MCC Photo/Silas CrewsBanana fiber and papier-mâché animals both dry before they are turned into final products. The research and design center does not mass-produce products. The goal is to create new products and create new jobs through this research. MCC Photo/Silas CrewsDried and combed fiber sits next to thread created from the fiber. MCC is experimenting with hybrid materials, the most promising have been 50 percent cotton and 50 percent pineapple fiber. MCC Photo/Silas CrewsSelina Begum spins fiber created from leaves into thread. This hand machine is used to try out different combinations of fiber. Once a good combination is found it then can be produced in greater quantity. MCC Photo/Silas CrewsFerdoushi Howlader shows thread that has been dyed and rolled onto spools. The threads are then used by weavers to create fabric that is later made into clothing. MCC Photo/Silas CrewsNasima Begum, left, and Deslima Begum work at their looms to create fabric from different fibers such as cotton, pineapple and banana. Research and development with exotic fibers is important to find products that have strong appeal in local and international markets. MCC Photo/Silas CrewsA worker adjusts a spool of indigo dyed thread as she works at her loom to create a test fabric. This type of fabric is often used for a thin shawl or head covering. MCC Photo/Silas CrewsMCC Bangladesh Designer Abir Das displays a scarf made from exotic fiber created at the research and design facility. Designers play an important role in choosing patterns, colors and style of new products. MCC Photo/Silas CrewsMCC Bangladesh is one of only a few organizations, working with handicrafts, to research how renewable indigenous materials and processes fit together to create new and durable products. Helping to sustain the livelihoods of disadvantaged women in Bangladesh is the mission of this center through research and design. Check out the Spring 2011 issue of A Common Place to learn more about MCC projects in Bangladesh. See how MCC Bangladesh is helping to sustain the livelihoods of disadvantaged women in Bangladesh through a handicraft research and design center.