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     Volume 4 Issue 68 | October 21, 2005 |

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Eid Fair

Elita Karim

Ramadan- a month when people feel the glory of the divine being, when they sacrifice their urge for the worldly goods and refrain themselves from eating, drinking and smoking, all in the name of God.

However, nothing can beat the pleasure of Eid shopping. Like every year, this year is no less. With snack-stands selling samosas and piyajus, dripping with oil, filling up every nook and corner of the city streets, shops glittering in gold and silver, not to mention the hefty sales and discount offers attracting customers, it's a sure sign that the Eid is around the corner.

Very recently, the Pakistan Embassy organised a six-day fair, in collaboration with the Women's Entrepreneur Association of Bangladesh at the Gulshan Shooting Club last week. With 60 stalls filling up all the floors of the establishment, all five days were crowded with customers from all parts of the city.

"There were at least 23 stalls from Pakistan," said Roubina Taufiq Shah, the Commercial Secretary of the Pakistan High Commission. "We even had one each from India, Indonesia and Iran and two from Turkey."

This is the second time that women entrepreneurs from both the countries got together to organise such a fair. The first one was held at the Spectra Convention Centre in November 2004. "We had a very good response at our first fair," said Roubina. "That's when we decided to have more women participate in the event and also decided to get a bigger place to fit all the stalls. Last year we had just five stalls from Pakistan, where as this year, we have at least 23 stalls."

This year, the fair attracted a good number of people, because of the variety of garments and accessories that were displayed. "Most of the stalls have a variety of shalwar kameezes, kurtas, saris, jewellery and even henna (mehendi)," said Veena Ahmed, the Chairperson of the event. "The Pakistani stalls naturally had a big flock of customers most of the time. There were boxes of reshmi churis, Pakistani embroidered shalwars, jewellery, naagra, sandals, handicrafts, bed sheets and so on."

Sponsored by Al-Falah Bank, a seminar was also organised in the midst of the fair for women entrepreneurs. "The seminar was held to encourage more women to come up and work on their creativity and entrepreneurial skills," said Veena. "We discussed the many problems that businesswomen face in this society and spoke of ways to tackle them." MP Khushid Jahan, the main speaker at the seminar, assured the participants and also the association of maximum support from the government regarding women and entrepreneurship.

The main attraction at the fair was probably the delicious cuisine by the famous Bundu Khan from Pakistan. "The ladies and the staff had to stay the whole day at the venue for the five days of the fair," said Roubina. "They would open up early in the morning and close down at 11 pm in the night. Bundu Khan not only attracted a whole lot of customers from outside, his cuisine also had all the participants buying iftar every single day of the fair."

The fair was a success, according to the Commercial Secretary. "We had planned to take the Pakistani entrepreneurs on to Chittagong, and join the Women Entrepreneur Association there who had already begun with their fair," informed Roubina. "However, that was when the earthquake struck the region. Some of the Pakistani businesswomen lost many of their relatives and friends. The Pakistani High Commission, therefore, cancelled the initial plans."

Fairs such as these give women entrepreneurs the opportunity to sell their products and interact with their counterparts from other countries.


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