Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

Grape farming growing in N-region

Grape farming growing in N-region
Our Correspondent

RANGPUR, June 3: Cultivation of grapes is gradually gaining popularity in the northern region and the growers are earning handsomely by selling their products.

According to the agriculturists, the soil and climate of Dinajpur, Rangpur, Thakurgaon and Panchagarh are suitable for grape cultivation.

Presently, grapes are cultivated only in a limited extent due to non-availability of required seeds and other facilities.

The local growers say that proper training and financial and technical assistances can pave way for large-scale commercial production of grapes across the region.

Mominur Rahman, a grower at Mithapukur told FE he has been cultivating grape in his homestead for several years and selling those at a good price.

Growers say much of the grapes produced in the areas belong to the average grade variety called ‘Jatka’.

They also cultivate a number of high-grade varieties like Black Ruby, Cardinal, Pearl, Blue etc.

These local grapes are comparatively sweeter in taste than the imported ones, they claimed.

Non-formal education underscored

BSS report says: Discussants at a views-sharing meeting last evening stressed the need for continuation of the non-formal education programme for developing human resources as well as accelerating uplifts in the rural areas.

They were addressing the meeting jointly organised by Panchagarh district administration, Non- formal Education Bureau and Astha Social Development Organisation (ASDO) at the conference room of Panchagarh Deputy Commissioner.

Acting Secretary of the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education MM Neaz Uddin attended the meeting as the chief guest with Panchagarh Deputy Commissioner Md Tofazzal Hossain in the chair.

Director General of Non-formal Education Bureau Md Alauddin, Project Director of Post Literacy & Continuing Education for Human Development (PLCEHD-2) MA Mannan Hawlader and Executive Director of ASDO Nahid Parveen addressed as the special guests.

District level government and NGO officials and executives, teachers, public representatives, socio-cultural and political leaders and activists, professionals, journalists and local elite took part in the meeting.

Earlier, the acting secretary inaugurated Doluapara Non- formal Education Centre in Sadar upazila as part of official launching of educational activities at all 170 such centres in five upazilas in Panchagarh.

Thirty females and thirty males between 15 to 45 years of age have been attending the non-formal education and vocational training programmes in separate batches and shifts at each centre every day. Classes are being held both in morning and evening shifts.

As per agreement with the government, ASDO has been conducting non-formal education and vocational training on sewing, repairing shallow machines, bicycles and rickshaw vans, electric cable wiring and livestock in these centres.

Innovative power plants

Innovative power plants
Author / Source : MD JAMIL KHAN

[KERANIGANJ: Serious load-shedding has compelled the residents to hire barges and set generators on them. Photo: Tarif Rahman] DHAKA, JUNE 2: It is not government-sponsored quick rental project but rental it is. Endemic power shortage, and load-shedding have compelled the people to devise the way as an alternative source of power when the existing plants cannot meet the demand. Such plants are found in Keraniganj where a group of people supplies electricity to several markets by installing a dozen generators on a drum barge.  The barge was anchored in the river of Buriganga.

Saiful Islam, owner of the M.D. Alamnagar drum barge said, “We are operating the business for more than a year in order to give support to businessmen of the area in cheap rate.”

“But this year, the power crisis of the area has crossed the limit than earlier as we only get electricity for two hours in a day,” Saiful said adding, “If the authority concerned do not take initiative to increase the condition then we have no other option but to shut the businesses from here.”

Visiting the area, this correspondent found that six barges have been set up on the area having the capacity of providing two megawatt of electricity daily. It provides electricity, sometimes for 13 hours, to 3000 shops and 700 small garment factories which have grown on the bank of the Buriganga under Keraniganj.

Those who are taking the electricity service from the barge are the owners of Khaja Super Market, Alam Tower, Sahidul Alam, S. Alam and garment factories at Sholu Towers.

The owner of the barges charge Tk 300 for a bulb, Tk 800 for a machine of a factory and Tk 500 for a fan a month.

They need 10 barrels of oil everyday to run a generator normally. One barrel of oil costs Tk 12 thousand. In the process they spend Tk 1.2 lakh daily. But these days they have to spend Tk 2 lakh daily as the demand is rising every day.

It is our good luck that this commercial service is providing us electricity to keep our work going without any interruption, said Sahidul Islam, owner of a garment factory.

If they shut their service, then we don’t know what will happen for us and minimum 700 small factory owners of the area, he added.

The drum barge is not only supporting the business community of the area but also creating employment facilities for the jobless people of the area. According to sources, a total of 120 people are working in the six drum barge of the area. The workers said that earlier their family was in very poor condition but they are now living happily.

Mohammad Aziz, an operator of the barge said, “Earlier, I would spend a very miserable life with my family members but now I am happy as I am getting a standard salary from the owner of the barge.”

Mohammad Mizan, an inhabitant of the area said, “The barge owners are doing a valuable work as they are helping the business community to run their businesses by giving uninterrupted power supply.”

He also urged social NGOs of the country to come forward like this barge owner to help the people of the country so that they can lead a happy life and continue their regular work as electricity is essential for our daily life.

Yunus among 12 greatest entrepreneurs

Fortune Magazine’s List
Yunus among 12 greatest entrepreneurs
Staff Correspondent

Nobel Laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus has been named by Fortune magazine as one of the 12 Greatest Entrepreneurs of Our Time.

This list published in the magazine’s latest issue places Prof Yunus among the band of highly exclusive individuals, all of whom are known throughout the world for their innovation, vision and ability to get things done.

“His desire to do something to help the local citizens led to a simple but powerful gesture: Yunus loaned $27 to destitute basket weavers in a village next to his university’s campus,” the magazine says.

“He could not believe the excitement the small amount of money caused. For people living on pennies a day, just a few dollars could transform their lives — and in many cases it did. The gift was used to support and expand these very small businesses, and that helped many overcome their poverty.

“Much to Yunus’ surprise, the basket weavers actually paid off the loans — and on time too. He then moved from one village to the next, finding all sorts of entrepreneurial projects to fund,” Fortune says.

While the bank could not eradicate poverty, it lifted many lives, the magazine adds.

“No less critical, Yunus’ idea inspired countless numbers of young people to devote themselves to social causes all over the world.”

The Fortune places the 12 individuals in the following order:

1) Steve Jobs of Apple, 2) Bill Gates of Microsoft, 3) Fred Smith of FedEx, 4) Jeff Bezos of Amazon, 5) Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, 6) Howard Schultz of Starbucks, 7) Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, 8) John Mackey of Whole Foods, 9) Herb Kelleher of SouthWest Airlines, 10) Narayana Murthy of Infosys, 11) Sam Walton of Wal-mart Stores, 12) Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank.

Ten of these entrepreneurs are American and one is an Indian.

The list was prepared considering economic and social impact, world changing vision of the entrepreneurs, ability of the entrepreneurs to inspire and motivate their employees, their record of innovation and their actual results, Yunus Centre said in a statement yesterday.

The companies that they have created have benefited hundreds and thousands of people and other businesses, while creating employment for millions of people, according to the statement.

Prof Yunus was chosen by Wharton School of Business for PBS documentary, as one of the 25 Most Influential Business Persons of the Past 25 Years.

In 2006, Time magazine listed him under 60 Years of Asian Heroes as one of the top 12 business leaders.

In 2008, in an open online poll, Yunus was voted the second topmost intellectual person in the world on the list of Top 100 Public Intellectuals by Prospect Magazine of the UK and Foreign Policy of the United States.

He was also voted second in Prospect Magazine’s 2008 global poll of the world’s Top 100 Intellectuals.

The news has enthralled leading economists and businessmen.

Former caretaker government adviser Hossain Zillur Rahman said his inclusion in the top 12 is a recognition of his philosophy and social responsibility.

“We are very proud of his achievement in two senses; first, he has been recognised as a Bangalee and secondly, he is a great role model for us,” he told The Daily Star.

Besides, the honour would uphold the image of the country, maintained Zillur. “We have many problems and weaknesses. It is an example of how creative thinking can take an individual to a new height amid many problems.”

Syed Nasim Manzur, a leading entrepreneur, said, “Of course, it is a great inspiration for us. It is a great thing that Fortune magazine has honoured a Bangladeshi and a social entrepreneur.”

He said the Banker to the Poor has shown that business can have a conscience. “Business does not mean that it should ignore society’s welfare to be successful. Dr Yunus is an example for this.”

“It will inspire us to do business with a social conscience and become successful,” said Manzur, managing director of Apex Adelchi Footwear Ltd, one of the top footwear brands of the country.

Annisul Huq, a former president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said Prof Yunus had really established some good institutions. “There is no doubt about his entrepreneurial credibility.”

A woman entrepreneur thrives despite crisis

SME Fair held in city
A woman entrepreneur thrives despite crisis

Parvin Akter, proprietor of Jenya Collection, seen at the stall at SME Fair 2011 at the city’s Bangabandhu International Conference Centre.

Anayetur Rahaman

She started a small boutique shop in a room of her house in Chittagong in 2003 with a capital of only Tk 30,000. She did not get any bank loan, rather had to borrow Tk 20,000 from an individual lender with high interest. But now her business got expanded across five districts of the country.

Parvin Akter, proprietor of Jenya Collection, said “My shops now design around 500 sarees and salwar kameezes a month.”

The woman, who opened a tiny shop in her own house by borrowing a small amount of money eight years back, is now planning to export her products.

Her boutique shop receives orders from different fashion brands and put designs on the products including sarees, salwar kameez, bed sheets and Nakshi Kantha as per the customers’ demands.

Parvin Akter said the demand of her works is growing day by day. That is why her business is not limited only in Chittagong, rather got expanded to four more districts.

Parvin Akter opened design centres in Jessore, Mymensingh, Comilla and Jamalpur. Around 500 women work in her design centres which receive orders from different brands of sarees and salwar kamizes.

“Our biggest centre is in Jessore where around 100 workers are employed,” Parvin Akter told daily sun at the SME Fair in Dhaka.

She opened a stall at the Small and Middle Enterprises (SMEs) Fair in the city’s Bangabandhu International Conference Centre with support from Chittagong Women Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CWCCI). Parvin is a member of CWCCI.

Parvin attributed her success to the integrity and hard work of her employees. She also did not forget her husband’s support without which it would have been difficult for her to go ahead. Parvin Akter said the commercial banks’ current SME loan policy is also positive for entrepreneurs like her.

“The commercial banks are now coming with different loan products for SMEs which is very positive. I recently got a loan Tk 4 million from Arab Bangladesh (AB) Bank Limited,” said the owner of Jenya Collection.

She bought a showroom for Tk 3 million at Central Plaza in Chittagong. She has other two showrooms at Agrabad and Halishahar in the port city.

While talking to daily sun, she hinted about her plan to expand business abroad. “I recently visited some countries including the United States, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and India. I talked to several buyers in those countries. I am hopeful to get orders from them.”

Parvin Akter said it is positive that the women are increasingly getting involved into businesses and opening enterprises.

Keep believing in yourself

Keep believing in yourself
Successful businesspeople urge young Bangladeshis
Star Business Report

Bangladesh has its success stories. But a lack of confidence and self-underrating holds the country back in realising its full potential, said a panel of top business executives yesterday.

They said such attitudes should be changed. Instead, confidence in own ability and continuous efforts of all should be the national motto leitmotifs to achieve excellence for building a prosperous Bangladesh.

“We have to change our attitude that we cannot. We are poor. This attitude has nipped our possibilities in the bud,” said Niaz Rahim, group director of automotive battery maker-supermarket pioneer Rahimafrooz.

“We can if we try. You have to be humble and confident. Do not underrate yourself, your country. Believe in yourself,” he said, citing that continuous efforts and an urge to compete globally have helped Rahimafrooz to export its automotive battery to 34 countries, including China and India.

Rahim made the remark at a gathering of under and post-graduate students of the Department of Industrial and Production Engineering (IPE) of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.

Department of IPE and Association of Industrial Production Engineers (AIPE) jointly organised the event titled IPE Symposium.

Chairman of export-oriented shipbuilding firm Ananda Shipyard Abdullahel Bari, Director of Corporate Affairs of cosmetics and toiletries maker Kohinoor Chemical Abul Khair and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of furniture giant Otobi Ltd Mohammed Kamruz Zaman also spoke on the occasion.

Rahim said Bangladesh needs to stand up with identity as a nation. For this, a change of the negative mindset of the Bangladeshis is a must.

“When we go abroad, many of us feel humiliated to introduce ourselves as Bangladeshis. We have to shun this mindset. This country belongs to us. This is our identity.”

Khair said Bangladesh has many outstanding and courageous entrepreneurs who are carrying forward the industrialisation in the country despite various barriers.

“Once we bought ferries from Denmark. Now we export to that country,” said the chairman of Ananda Shipyard.

Giving tips to students about success in life and career, Rahim said none should give up in trying succeeding.

“You have to be positive. Do not give up,” he said. “We did not give up. That’s why, our battery is going to China, which exports its products to the whole world.”

Khair suggested students and young employees to refrain from frequently changing workplaces. “You have to give your employer adequate space to evaluate your performance,” he said.

Otobi COO recommended that students stick to honesty throughout to shine in life. “Be humble but don’t accept unjust practices,” he said.

Amena gets YBI award

Amena gets YBI award
Business Report

A Bangladeshi woman entrepreneur and proprietor of Amir Tailors and Boutique, Amena Begum has won the Barclays Capital Journey to Enterprise Award in the Youth Business International award 2011 held at London Museum recently organized by Youth Business International (YBI) which is a trust of Prince Charles.

Chairperson of the SME Foundation, Industries Minister Dilip Barua and Co Chief Executive of Barclays Capital Rich Ricci presented the award in a gala ceremony.

Amena Begum established her business as a means of supporting her three children after being widowed as a young woman. From a small one-woman enterprise, her business ‘Amir Tailors and Boutique’ has grown to employ eight staff and has established links with some of the key retailers in Bangladesh. Alongside her growing business, Amena manages a training centre where she shares her skills with other vulnerable young women.

Gourd production brings Tarapada good fortune

Gourd production brings Tarapada good fortune

GOPALGAN: Tarapada Bala taking his fare of gourds to the market. — FE photo

Our Correspondent

GOPALGANJ, Dec 1: Gourd cultivation has changed the fate of a school teacher, Tarapada Bala (50), who is earning about Tk. 1,38,000 a month from his gourd field now.

Tarapada Bala is a school teacher of Govt. Primary School under Tungipara upazila of Gopalganj district. He has been working in his vegetable field side by side his teaching occupation for last twenty years. His strong will power, curiosity and hard work made him a successful farmer of Mitrodanga village under Tungipara upazila of Gopalganj district.

Tarapada started cultivating vegetables on a small scale in the year 1990. But in recent years he has concentrated on vegetable cultivation, particularly on gourd.

On Friday, while this correspondent visited his gourd field, he told the F.E., everyday he has been collecting about 200 pieces of gourd from his field.

Tarapada said he invested Tk. 40,000 for gourd cultivation on two bighas of land including seeds, fertilizer, pesticide etc. but he usually uses natural fertilizer in his field.

Not only that, he has been earning an additional profit of Tk. one lakh from other vegetables production.

Last year (2010) Tarapada Bala was awarded a silver medal from the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as the best farmer in agriculture sector. Earlier he received certificates from the Ministry of Agriculture as a successful farmer in the district.

He further informed this correspondent that many of his neighbours have now been following his footsteps. He offers from free advice to them on gourd production.

Beans bring fortune for Pabna farmers

Beans bring fortune for Pabna farmers
Our Correspondent

PABNA, Nov 30: A large number of farmers in Pabna and Natore districts are now engaged in bean cultivation as it proved highly profitable changing the lives of many people in the region.

Some 60/70 trucks loaded with beans leave ‘Muladuli bean zone’ in Iswardi Upazila of Pabna, the biggest bean-producing area, for capital Dhaka and other parts of the country everyday as beans worth around Tk 1 crore is traded daily at the local market, traders said.

Over 1.5 lakh families are now involved in bean cultivation and its business in the region that sees increasing cultivation of it for the last several years, local sources said.

Bean farmers from Pabna and Natore districts take their products to Muladuli market and sell it to wholesalers who supply it to different places including Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet and Narayanganj.

Farmers from all the villages of Muladuli union under Ishwardi upazila, Khidirpur, Per Khidirpur and Ramchandrapur unions of Atghoria upazila and Zednail, Haripur and adjoining villages of Chatmohar upazila under Pabna district bring their product to the market for sale, said Abdur Razzak, secretary of Muladuli Vegetable Traders Association.

The farmers from Boraigram, Gopalpur and Lalpur upazilas in Natore also bring their beans to the country’s largest wholesale bean market, traders said.

“The local market sees trading of 1,800 to 2,100 maunds of bean everyday. The amount is on rise as there has been a bumper production of the vegetable this year,” said Mohammad Sohel, a wholesaler of the market.

“Each maund (37.32 kg) of bean now sells between Tk 400 and Tk 450 while the same amount sold between Tk 3,500 and Tk 3,600 a few weeks ago. The price will decrease further as the supply is on rise,” said Abdur Razzak.

Sources in Pabna Agriculture Extension Department said at least 3,000 hectares of land have been brought under bean cultivation in the district this year while it was around 2,200 hectares last year.

This year beans were produced on over 6,000 hectares of land.

“I have cultivated beans on six bighas of land this year while it was only one bigha a few years ago. After obtaining my master’s degree, I joined a school. At the same time I started bean cultivation as it is very profitable,” said Mukter Hossain.

“Bean farming on a bigha of land costs Tk 12,000 to 14,000. If there is no natural calamity, a farmer can get 80 to 100 maunds of bean from the land in a season. One can easily earn a profit of Tk 15,000 to 20,000 per bigha,” said Latif Joarder, a small bean farmer.

A few bean farmers, however, said they often fail to get fair price of the product.

Local farmers and traders have demanded that the government build a cold storage in the area so that they can preserve their agricultural products.

Of asparagus and capsicum—a farmer’s success story

Of asparagus and capsicum—a farmer’s success story
Our Correspondent

BOGRA, Nov, 27: Anser Ali 60, from Bujruk Shokra village under Shibganj upazila of Bogra district, a grower of exotic vegetables, has brought a tremendous change in his life cultivating uncommon vegetables like asparagus in his land. He usually sells them in Dhaka and Cittagong between February and March earning around Tk 70 thousand a year. February to March is the peak time for asparagus.

He started farming foreign vegetables about 20 years ago on 7 decimals of his land by investing only Tk 200. For his outstanding contribution in farming foreign and local vegetables, he received Tk 3.5 lakh as prize money from Bangladesh government in September this year.

Agriculturist Md. Mahatab Uddin encouraged him at the outset to cultivate capsicum in 1992. His first harvest was not successful due to lack of knowledge on cultivation methods.

He cultivates 600 decimals of land in the winter season and 231 decimals in the summer for supplying foreign vegetables to some multi-star hotels in the capital. He said his annual profit has reached 2.7 lakh from selling vegetables like pepper, capsicum and asparagus etc. He further said he has been producing commercially sweet corn, hybrid cabbage, hybrid onion and some other foreign vegetables. He pointed out that getting quality seeds is one of the vital setbacks in cultivating foreign vegetables in our country. With the profit out of selling vegetables, he has purchased 429 decimals of land and is running his family as well as repaying his loan.

He also claimed, he supplies 20 varieties of foreign vegetables to 8 customers in the capital. He has created job opportunities for local jobless men and women in his vegetables fields. He now wishes to export vegetables if he would get government assistance in this regard.

Lack of transportation facilities is one big problem for foreign vegetables cultivation. Railway is the most effective transportation though there is no direct railway communication from Bogra to Dhaka and Cittagong. For that reason, vegetables cultivators have to spend huge money as truck fares. He said, the foreign vegetable cultivation can be profitable and may contribute a lot to our economy if the authority pays heed to cultivators and their problems.

A quiet entrepreneur looks to brighter days

Pockets of Change
A quiet entrepreneur looks to brighter days

Amena Begum

Md Fazlur Rahman

A mother of three, Amena Begum became a widow at the age of 29 when her husband lost the battle against a kidney disease. Anyone in her position would have ended up working as a household maid, but it was with determination and hard-work that she established herself as a young entrepreneur.

“I always dreamt that I would one day grow up and become an entrepreneur and set up my own business where people will get a chance to work,” said Amena. She now runs Amir Tailors & Boutique in the city’s Moghbazar area and supplies garment items to retailers at key shopping centres.

She learnt tailoring from her mother at an early age and took part in training on cutting and stitching ladies clothing. When she turned 20, her family married her off to an auto-rickshaw driver in 1999.

“After I got married I found that my husband’s income was not enough to meet family expenses. I started tailoring work at home.”

She had to quit her education and could not sit for her SSC exams as she was pregnant with her first.

Initially, she made sleepwear for women. Six years ago, she visited retail shops at various shopping centres in the city to show her products. “Many shops liked my products and placed orders.”

But she faced a great ordeal when her husband was ill for five years, and bed-ridden for the last six months of his life. She had to spend Tk 1,200 a day for his treatment.

She spent her family savings worth Tk 500,000, and had to sell her ornaments and furniture. She borrowed another Tk 250,000 from her relatives during the last few days of his treatment. He passed away when their youngest son was just two months old.

“I was confused and penniless. I did not know where to go. Nobody will take responsibility of my three children,” she told The Daily Star in an interview in Dhaka on Monday.

She started taking sewing orders from her neighbours to make money to support her family. “Some customers would ask me to put designs on their dresses, and they loved it. Others would see my products and place orders.”

“It soon became too much for me to handle on my own. I had to turn down people. Then I thought that I should start a small tailoring shop of my own and hire a few other women to help me meet orders.”

In the meantime, she could not afford educational expenses of her eldest son, who went to a good school in the capital. She shifted him to UCEP School for free education. But the shift worked in her favour as some teachers introduced her to Bangladesh Youth Enterprise Advice and Helpcentre (B’YEAH).

“When I heard about B’YEAH, that it was looking for young widows with business ideas, I was interested and immediately went to talk to them. B’YEAH liked my products, approved a loan for me and introduced me to my mentor.”

She took a loan of Tk 50,000 from B’YEAH and paid back some loans and invested the rest in her business.

She is one of the few entrepreneurs of B’YEAH, a programme of The Prince of Wales’ Youth Business International. She was able to grow her business with the help of the Dhaka-based B’YEAH.

In 2010, she won an award from B’YEAH for not delaying or missing a single loan payment. Her success story did not end there. Earlier this month, the 31-year-old was awarded the “Barclays Capital Journey to Enterprise Award” for her success amid difficulties.

Alongside the $1,000 prize money, Amena flew to London to attend the Entrepreneur of the Year awards dinner.

The Journey to Enterprise award recognises an entrepreneur who has overcome significant challenges on the road to operating a successful business.

Amena now makes and supplies clothing items, such as blouses, petticoats, children’s wear and men’s wear. She also embroiders saris, bedsheets, quilts and other handmade items.

She collects samples and sometimes unstitched fabric from different retailers. “I never miss a delivery deadline, which gives my customers confidence and helps my business grow.”

Amena now hires 10 women to work for her. Two of the women work at Amin Tailor & Boutique and the rest work from their homes. Her mother, Joynab Bibi, also helps her out with the designs and colour combinations.

Amena tries to keep her operational expenses low so that she can purchase good quality raw materials, which gives her higher quality end products. She frequently visits different apparel exhibitions and collects designs for inspiration.

In partnership with another businessman, she opened Amir Tailors & Boutiques on rented space two months ago.

Despite being on a tight schedule, she makes time to train destitute women for free on tailoring and the boutique business in her locality. They are also provided with work that they can take home.

“Other women now look up to me. I train and mentor these women to set up their own businesses.”

Amena said winning the award has given her the necessary exposure to expand business. “Now I will have to work harder.”

Her son Naim, now 12, is now studying in class eight. He also receives training on automobiles. Amena plans to admit him at Bangladesh Open School so that he can study more.

Her second son Siam, 8, is also a student of class three at UCEP School. Her third son Zidan is two and a half years old.

Amena is grateful to her mother for supporting her all through. “If she did not help me to take care of my children, I would not have been able to succeed. I also would not have been able to start the business if B’YEAH did not lend to me at that crucial time.”

“I also worked at a boutique, Shwopno Mela, for two years to learn more about the business. The owner helped me a lot too.”

Amena has already repaid a majority of her Tk 200,000 loan. She hopes to repay in full by December.

She said she needs both financial support and guidance to make her business big.

Officials of B’YEAH call her a star entrepreneur. They said her motivation to do better everyday is extremely encouraging. She has become a role model for many women in her community. Other than her skills and determination, she had nothing.

“But today she is a confident, self-sufficient woman, who raises three sons, contributes financially to her parents and fulfils her social responsibilities by being a mentor to others,” said Rubaiya Ahmad, executive director of B’YEAH.

Old clothes, new hues

Pockets of Change
Old clothes, new hues

Shaheb Ali checks the colour on old clothes that have been dyed at the dyeing factory in Kaliganj. Photo: Azibor Rahman

Azibor Rahman, Jhenidah

Hard work is the only means of survival for the honest man. Sincerity and creativity gives new solutions to old problems. It is true for a group of men in Faila village of Kaliganj involved with the uncommon vocation of dyeing old clothes.

Shaheb Ali, Rais Uddin and Khabir Uddin dye all types of old clothes, including saris, scarves, shirts, pants, bed sheets, mosquito nets and quilt covers. People from different villages and towns bring their clothes and get those dyed in any colour of choice.

“Around 150 widowed or helpless women in Jhenidah and surrounding districts are involved in the trade,” Shaheb said.

“The women collect the items from housewives in different villages of Jhenidah town, Moheshpur, Chuadanga, Jessore and Magura on contract, and return them after we dye the clothes,” he added.

“Nahar Banu, Ayesha Khatun, Nargis Parvin, Zarina Khatun and Tara Bibi bring a good number of clothes here for dyeing. They earn a good sum from it too,” Rais said.

Dyeing old clothes is a price-effective solution for many in the area who cannot afford new clothes all the time.

Women involved in the trade said they take Tk 25 for each sari and pay only Tk 15 for dyeing. They take Tk 20 for a petticoat and pay Tk 12 for dyeing, keeping the rest as profit.

Nahar Banu, 55, a widow from Mashlia village in Kaliganj, said, “I regularly come here with lots of clothes from housewives in my village and neighbouring villages and earn a living for myself. I bear the educational expenses of my son with my earnings.”

Her son is a student at Jessore MM College. She earns Tk 100-125 a day from this trade.

Subrity, a housewife from the nearby Nichintapur village, said, “I come here to dye clothes. The colour lasts long.”

She is happy that she can add fresh colour to her old clothes for a new look, at a low cost.

Kudrat Ali, a cloth dealer in Kushtia, said, “I bring a heap of clothes to the factory in Kaliganj and earn a lot from the business.”

Shaheb, who has been in the business for 26 years, is able to make ends meet with earnings from the business. He dyes at least 150 clothes a day. He needs colour, hydroze, caustic stone, aluminium and nitric acid for the process.

His son Raihan is an SSC examinee of 2011 and his second son is in class three. He said he is leading a happy life with his wife and sons, supported by the unusual dyeing business.

Khabir, a business partner to Rais, said, “We have been in the trade for a long time now. We are doing good business.”

Women entrepreneurs to get Tk 25 lakh collateral-free loans soon: Barua

Women entrepreneurs to get Tk 25 lakh collateral-free loans soon: Barua

SME Foundation managing director Syed Rezwanul Kabir and Eastern Bank managing director and chief executive officer Ali Reza Iftekhar exchange documents after signing an agreement in a city hotel on Sunday. — New Age photo

Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha . Dhaka

Industries minister Dilip Barua said on Sunday that steps would be taken to increase the volume of collateral-free loans for women entrepreneurs up to Tk 25 lakh from the existing Tk 7 lakh.

Terming access to finance as key barrier to the growth of the small and medium enterprises sector, he said the entrepreneurs cannot go a long way due to lack of finance and loans facility.

He was speaking at an agreement signing ceremony at a hotel in the city. The SME Foundation, Eastern Bank Ltd, USAID-PRICE project and Aarong, a trade organisation, signed the agreement.

Under the agreement, a Tk 1 crore would be disbursed among entrepreneurs of the leather industry involved in the Aarong marketing.

Bangladesh Bank governor Atiur Rahman, managing director of SME Foundation Syed Rezwanul Kabir, chief executive officer of EBL Ali Reza Iftekhar spoke on the occasion as special guests.

Barua said it is unfortunate that banks and financial institutions are interested to provide loans to business people instead of entrepreneurs.

The minister called upon the private sector to come forward to supplement the government efforts in creating more entrepreneurs to propel the growth of the country’s economy.

Atiur described the SME sector as an engine of the economic growth and said it can be used as a tool to cut poverty.

He stressed the need for addressing the financing problem to the SME sector and said the country has now around 2,500 small and medium entrepreneurs in the sector and it has created as many as seven lakh employments directly or indirectly.

A craftsman’s story

Districts in Focus
A craftsman’s story

Left, Mozzamel Haque started off with a tiny investment. Right, Glass tubes filled with coloured water and glitter will be used to make toys. Photo: Hasibur Rahman Bilu

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.”

Accolades for best use of remittance

Accolades for best use of remittance

Finance Minister AMA Muhith, seated centre, attends a programme where Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit, a private organisation, handed trophies and cash money to three people who made the best use of remittance, at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka yesterday.Photo: STAR

Star Business Report

A migrant worker and two remittance recei-ving families were awarded yesterday for investing remittances in productive sector.

Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) gave away the awards in two categories — Shonar Manush Award for the best remitter and Shera Remittance Baboharkari Paribar Award for the best remittance using family.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith handed trophies and cash money to the three recipients at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre.

A Saudi Arabia returnee Mohammad Ismail Hossain received the Shonar Manush Award for establishing a handloom factory with 36 handlooms in a 100-decimal plot in Tangail.

The factory employs around 200 handloom workers and produces 150-200 saris a day.

Abdul Mannan and Belal Uddin from Chittagong received Shera Remittance Baboharkari Paribar Award for setting up successful business enterprises with the remittances sent by their relatives.

Mannan bought a salt factory at Haidgaon in Chittagong at Tk 40 lakh from the remittances sent by his brothers now working in Abu Dhabi.

Around 80 people work in the factory, which produces around 7,000 maunds of salt a month.

Belal Uddin set up a poultry farm with the remittances sent by his brother in the UAE. He produces both layer and broiler chickens and employs 30 full-time workers.

The finance minister at the programme said labour migration and remittance are integral parts of the economy. Remittances contribute around 10 percent to the gross domestic product of the country, he added.

He said the migrated workers now send money easily and quickly through formal channels with the help of online technology. So, illegal ‘hundi’ business has come down in the last four years.

The migratory advocacy institution, RMMRU, started giving away the awards in 2009.

Shahdeen Malik, treasurer of RMMRU, said: “The main object of the awards is to encourage the migrants to invest in productive ventures.”

He said, more than 71 lakh Bangladeshis have migrated to the Middle East, South East Asian and other countries as contract migrant workers since 1970s.

In 2010, the migrant workers remitted $11.4 billion, which is 3.22 times higher than the net earnings of the readymade garments, 12.5 times more than the foreign direct investment and 6.4 times more than the foreign aid received by the country, said Tasneem Siddiqui, chairperson of the RMMRU at Dhaka University.

The RMMRU also awarded 14 bankers, four government officials and union parishad members to encourage them to provide better services to the migrants.

Barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on the overseas employment ministry, Mohammad Abdul Mannan, managing director of Islami Bank Bangladesh, and Shaheen Anam, executive director of Manusher Jonno Foundation, were also present at the ceremony.

Vegetable farming lucrative for Mithapukur growers

Vegetable farming lucrative for Mithapukur growers
Our Correspondent

RANGPUR Oct 20: Farmers of Mithapukur upazila in the district are becoming financially solvent by growing winter vegetables on their farmlands as the crops give them comparatively more profit. They are expected to grow more than 40 thousand tonnes of vegetables this year as they prefer cultivating vegetables to other crops, said DAE office sources.

“I spent Tk 30 thousand and earned Tk 80 thousand by growing cabbage on one acre of land,” said Kashem Miah, a farmer of Hazratpur village.

“It was difficult for me to afford the expenses of my family by growing rice only; but vegetable farming is now giving me adequate profit to ease my financial constraints,” he said.

“I earned Tk 10,000 by growing palong shak on 22 decimals of land at my homestead,” said Kabir Miah, a farmer of Boiriganj village.

Zabbar Miah of Kafrikhal village spent Tk 3,000 and earned Tk 15,000 by growing chillies on his farmland.

“I can buy adequate fresh vegetables from the markets of the upazila at cheaper cost,” said Rustam Ali, a trader who came from Dhaka.

“The farmers are not getting fair price as middlemen are controlling the markets depriving the poor peasants,” said Mosadek Bablu, president of Rangpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI).

While visiting the villages of the upazila this FE correspondent found the farmers busy in taking care of their vegetable fields.

The farmers are growing potato, cabbage, cauliflower, gourd, bean, onion, eggplant, parbal, cucumber, tomato, chillies, basil, carrot, green- pea, arum, okra, luffa and mint.

Traders from across the country are purchasing the vegetables and transporting those to their respective areas.

Everyday around 16 trucks laden with vegetables leave the markets of the upazila for different destinations across the country, sources said.