For Women Only
A number of woman entrepreneurs in the district of Satkhira have gotten together and formed the market Bou Bazar- a place exclusively for women. This is the first of its kind in the district and possibly in the entire country. The market is another step towards women becoming economically productive and self-reliant as the sellers and buyers are both women. Bou Bazar sits on both the sides of the road at the Kamal Nagar intersection near the Kamal Nagar graveyard.
Shamima Khatun of Shyamnagar upazila in the district, one of the four winners of Global Microentre-preneurship Awards from Bangladesh last year whose work was judged the “Most Innovative Business of the Year” (of 2005) is also a wholesaler of vegetables at Bou Bazar. Women are selling essential goods such as fish, meat, rice, flour, vegetables, and other typical groceries at the market. These women have a strong will to become financially self-reliant and are now faring well in this competitive arena.
Bou Bazar has drawn attention to all, and has inspired many discouraged and financially challenged women to actively participate in the market. “The women folk of the locality started the market three years back, it is now known as Bou Bazar as almost all the sellers and buyers are women”, Commissioner Anis Khan Chowdhury commented.
Rabeya Khatun has been selling vegetables at the market for the last three years; her husband Abdus Sattar is also a vegetable seller. “This helps me support a family of four including my son and daughter”, she said.
With only Taka 400 to start out with, Tanzila Khatun also started selling vegetables. She was the first person to start this business in her area. She says, “later on other women saw what I was doing and wanted to join me. Now the market is growing day by day”. Benefits spill over onto others who see successful businesses. “I sell Taka 200 to 300 worth of vegetables everyday. Besides, to help my husband to maintain our family, I am now trying to send my son and daughter to school with the profit I make. There is very little financial trouble in our family now”, she said.
Mariam Bibi, vegetable seller and mother of two, has purchased plenty of land for Kamal Nagar by depositing money from the profit she earned through her business.
Sakhina Khatun was a tailor by profession. She gave up tailoring as her eyesight worsened. “Then I became a vegetable seller to help my husband, rather than sit idly at home,” says this mother of seven children.
Farida Khatun used to support her family by selling vegetable in the market in the morning and also by working as a maid at other houses in the afternoon. “We are now in a better state”, she said.
Marzina Begum also thinks the Bou Bazar has really improved things for her. “I earn Taka 150 to Taka 200 by selling meat every day. My husband is a day laborer. With the earning, we support our family. Our sons and daughters are now going to school which we could not have imagined a few years ago”, she says. “As a woman, I feel that this is a great achievement. My family is no longer in the dark,” she added.
At least 50 woman entrepreneurs go to the wholesale markets in rural areas to purchase goods at the wholesale price and then sell them at the women's market. The lives of these poverty-stricken women entrepreneurs have changed significantly. They are gradually getting out of the hardship they have faced for years. What these women are doing is now drawing the attention of a number of government and non-government organizations that are visiting the market every so often.
The Bou Bazar is a good example in the area of empowerment of women in this country. Sheikh Ashraful Haque, Chairman of Satkhira City Council remarked that economic solvency is a precondition for these women to fight their way out of the various social injustices. He says the government should be urged to give their full support to these working women who are trying to become self-reliant and economically productive.
(R) thedailystar.net 2007