Districts in Focus
A craftsman’s story
Hasibur Rahman Bilu, Bogra
The story of Md Mozzamel Haque began 40 years ago. A 25 year old youth, he invested Tk 1,000 to start a small business of his own. He made small glass toys and bottles.
He shifted to Bogra at the time to take advantage of the low cost of production.
“I first started the business in my village Taroya, under Asorganj upazila in Brahmanbaria district when I was 25 years old, investing only Tk 1,000,” said Haque.
“I came later to a Bogra village to enjoy more benefits because the labour costs were cheaper,” he added.
People in Bogra were able to market their locally produced goods countrywide because they could sell more at low prices.
“Some glass tube based toys and bottles sell like hot cake in the capital, Khulna and other places. The people in Bogra are managing their businesses well,” said Haque.
However, they fall in a fix when they need extra financial help. Local businessmen have to borrow money from different nongovernmental organisations by paying 20 to 27 percent as interest and service charges.
This is because they do not have an access to bank loans, said Haque. Most factory owners in the village of Shehari and adjacent villages in Bogra are unaware of SME and other soft loans.
He said there is a scope to make a profit of 12 to 15 percent by selling glass based products, especially small and medium sized homeopathy medicine bottles, at retail levels.
“We are now selling 144 pieces of medium sized bottles at Tk 70 to Tk 75 and small ones at Tk 60 to Tk 65,” he said.
“It is unfortunate for the people of Shehari and other nearby villages that not a single government official has yet come to the village to enquire about their problems in the last 40 years of the business,” said Haque.
“We have the potential to export glass tube bottles but we need industrial loans to purchase modern machinery and arrange training to produce quality items, maintain operations, and design and colour toys,” he added.
He said some auto machines and modern technologies have been introduced in Khulna to make glass bottles in bulk. But there are some barriers like high labour costs, he added.
Most businessmen and industry owners like to avoid bank loans because of the formalities and hassles.
“I believe the people of Bogra are saving a lot of foreign currencies by catering to the local needs of glass bottles. The government should help us lift this industry, so that it can export bottles and contribute to the national economy.”