Stitching Poverty Away
Untiring labor and sincerity can lead anyone to success, proves Ismat Ara. Self confidence can bring about a radical change, a change that has already taken place in the life of an ambitious woman in Jhenidah.
I will try to create more jobs for the widows, helpless woman and female students who can't study due to poverty” said Ismat Ara, wife of Shafiuddin Biswas of the Jorapukuria village under Harinakundo upazila in Jhenidah. Ismat Ara has a heartfelt desire to do something to help the unemployed women in her district
Ismat Ara makes bags, petty-coats, blouses and handicraft items. She is the president of the “Jharna Woman and Shishu Unnayan Shangstha” in the Harinakundo upazila, a place where 35 women do needle-work. Apart from the 35, nine other housewives of Jorapukuria village stitch 'Nakshai Kanthas' at Ismat Ara's house. A woman stitches each kantha for two or three months. The common kanthas cost Tk. 4,000 to make and the finer ones cost Tk. 5,000. Once ready, the common ones sell for Tk. 5,000 and the finer ones for Tk. 7,000. For providing high quality Nakshi Kantha the women need a big amount of capital investment. Ismat Ara is determined to develop this profession by manufacturing and selling even more rare and traditional Kanthas. She wants orders for Nakshi Kantha from clients both at home and abroad.
While speaking to Star Insight, Ismat Ara said that her husband tills other peoples’ lands and maintains their family. With a view to add more income to her family she took up the profession of making bags that serve many purposes, purposes such as - women's clothes bags, hand bags, ladies bags, school bags and purses. She has been running this business since 2009.
Nakshi Katha in display at the factory
She was trained at the Jessore Kataltala bag factory for three months. Since then, she started making bags at her house where nine more housewives stitch Nakshi Kantha and supply it to different districts as its demand is very high. She sells a big bag at Tk. 70-75 a small one for Tk. 40-45. She also gets Tk. 20 for selling bags for mobile phones. Wholesale buyers collect different kinds of bags from Ismat Ara whenever they need them and distribute it to different retailers of the markets of Jhenidah and its neighboring districts. She also sells some of her bags to Harinakundo upazila town, Shekher bazar and to Jhenidah town.
She can make 20 bags everyday. But due to the need of capital she is unable to run her business on a larger scale. She said her work may turn out to be a highly profitable if there was greater capital involved. She will be able to provide more jobs to more unemployed women in the area if she can manage to get a loan or financial help from an organization or bank. Some more women from her village give her added assistance to make bags in large quantities ahead of any festival.
Women sewing bags at the factory
Shirina Khatun a house wife of Jorapukuria village of the upazila said, “I stitch Nakshi Kantha for two or three months for which I take Tk. 1,500 as wages for my family.” She added that she does this work in her free time so that it doesn't conflict with any of her household chores. Bashona Khatun a student of class seven of Mandartala secondary school under Harinakundo upazila said, “Whenever I am free, I stitch Nakshi Kantha and get Tk. 1,500 that I spend studying material.”
Sattar Munchi, a wholesale buyer of Jhenidah town said he buys bags from Ismat Ara whenever the need arises from which he gains a good profit by selling. He buys the big ones at Tk. 70 and sells them for Tk. 85-90. He buys the small ones for Tk. 55-60. Mayor Shahinur Rahman Rintu of Harinakundo pourashova said such initiative in the village can alleviate poverty and women can earn something to provide for their families. Mahmudul Islam Foton, President of Jhenidah Chamber of Commerce, said he will also look into Ismat Ara's business and will try to help her to access formal finance if possible.
(R) thedailystar.net 2012