Volume 2 Issue 54 | March 28 , 2009 |


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From Pabna

Working with Plastics

Ahmed Humayun Kabir Topu

Salma Akter Shahida is just a regular resident of Pabna. She is a resident of Shadhupara village of the district headquarters. There was a time when Salma struggled to provide for her family. But now she is an example of success in working with plastics.

With a small investment Salma started her plastics business in 2001 and now she is the proud owner of a factory. Her work in her own Keya Plastic Factory won her the City Micro-entrepreneurship Award in 2008.

During a visit to her factory it was learnt that Salma had to struggle long and hard to get to where she is. She said she got married in 1990 when she was very young. Her husband Md. Abul Kalam Azad was a poor man. She and her husband came to Dhaka looking for work.

They started work at a garment factory for a Tk. 400 wage. This income was too meagre. They returned to Pabna and recommenced looking for work. Her husband even went abroad but came back. Salma says at the time she had very little hope in her life. She joined a local cooperative society at the suggestion of other women. The Anannya Shamaj Kalyan Shongstha, a local NGO lent a hand. She took a loan of Tk. 7 thousand from the NGO in 2001 and started her plastics business for the first time.

With the help of her relatives, Salma started up. From the very beginning she started to manufacture bobbins. She bought a machine first and worked hard to start up the business in 2001. She never looked back. She was earning profit right from the start and was developing her business. Even though she started her factory for a mere Tk. 7 thousand, she has done about Tk. 50 lakh worth of trading. Her husband worked hard alongside her to achieve this success.

“When we started the small plastic business the locals said we were crazy. We were not disheartened.

“I worked hard along with my husband. At first we would work 18 to 20 hours in the factory. In the beginning we were the only workers,” she said.

After manufacturing the bobbins from the recycled plastic she and her husband sold those in the village hut. When they saw the increasing demand for bobbins they decided to expand. This is how they took loans of Tk 12 thousand, 15 thousand and 30 thousand over a period of time.

They expanded enough to be able to put up their own factory. Salma set up the Keya Plastic Factory in 5.5 kathas of land in Shadhupara village. There are 8 machines there. Currently 33 employees- most of them women- work in the factory. The goods produced here are distributed to many parts of the country.

How to collect raw materials
The raw materials used in the plastic factory are only plastic bags recycled from waste. At first, her demand for waste plastic bags was met by street kids who would find them and give them to her. Now her demand is too high to be met that way. Used plastic bags cost about Tk. 10-15 per kg.

Process of manufacturing the bobbin
The used plastic bags are first thoroughly washed. Then they are cleaned using a machine. The plastic is then melted and cooled down to form solid matter. Plastic can be molded into any desired shape.

Marketing of the products
Salma's husband Abul Kalam Azad said that when the factory started in 2001 products were sold in village huts. With growing demand, products were being supplied to Sirajganj, Tangail, Gazipur, Naogaon and some other districts of the country. A daily profit of about Tk. 2 thousand is generated by the factory.

Future goals
Salma wants to make her factory larger in the future. She and her husband want to build a larger factory in Pabna's BSCIC industrial area. They need financial support in order for that to happen.


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