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Income generating activities helping empowerment of poor women

By AKM Kamal Uddin Chowdhury

DHAKA, Dec 30, 2017 (BSS) - Jamila Begum, a familiar name in Panchagarh district town, has established herself as an example for other women by creating her position in the man dominated society through income generating activities.

As our society is not yet friendly for women as entrepreneurs, especially in restaurant business, Jamila Begum faces social barriers in running her two restaurants in the heart of the northern district town of Panchagarh. However, her mental and physical strength along with the supports from her husband and other family members enables her to advance overcoming all obstacles.

Nearly half of the total population in Bangladesh are women and they constitute an essential part of the nation's human resources. For this reason, engaging women in income-generating activities has now become a major concern for the policymakers.

Jamila has been successful in her business and in bringing financial solvency for her family. She can be considered a role model for the women entrepreneurs because of her uphill struggle and commitment to her business. Other women may be encouraged by her success.

Jamila Begum is the proprietor of Karatoa Hotel and New Karatoa Hotel in Panchagarh town. These restaurants in the urban area are categorized as small enterprises in the service sector.

"After my marriage, I and my husband started our business by setting up a tea stall with an initial capital of Taka 300 only. We struggled a lot in life. That tea stall later became "Karatoa Hotel" which is now a renowned restaurant in the area," said Jamila, who is now around 50 years old.

She said her capital now stands at over Taka 20 lakh, which was only Taka 1 lakh in 2009.

Jamila said she took a loan of Taka 5 lakh at 10 percent interest from BRAC Bank Limited, Panchagarh branch, in 2011 to extend her business. "After taking the credit, the sale and profit of my business increased significantly. Then I expanded my business by opening another hotel, named "New Karatoa Restaurant," she said, adding: "Now I have repaid all loans." Jamila said the total number of workers of her enterprises has increased to 40 persons which were only four in 2009.

She informed that she has been working as a chef from her childhood in different restaurants. "Although I am now able to hire a head chef, I am is continuing my role as a chef in the restaurants," she added.

She said her business is expanding consistently. "I bought some land and built a two-storey building in the Station Road area in Panchagarh from my earnings," she added.

Jamila Begum and her husband both are helping each other equally in their businesses.

Talking to BSS, Jamila's husband Shab Uddin said his wife could be an example for other poor women who can change their lives through hard working and dedication.

Like Jamila Begum, Kohinoor Begum has also empowered herself by becoming a successful entrepreneur. She is the proprietor of the M/S Kohinoor Enterprise, a small-size rural based agro industry established in 1993 at Natunhaat Bazar in Kotowali under Jessore.

The enterprise is a main source of earning of Kohinur Begum. Besides, she spends a part of her income for socio-economic development, like helping the widows, developing sanitation system and distributing warm clothes among the poor.

Empowering women economically is a fundamental and unavoidable part of development dialog, said Bangladesh Bank Deputy Director M Nur-E-Alom Siddique. In recent years, like other developing countries of the world, Bangladesh has been focusing on women, the most underprivileged group in society, he added.