Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Wednesday, February 21, 2018 07:13:52 PM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Small entrepreneurs emerge as backbone of Bangladesh's rural economy

Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Shahiduzzaman :
She was born in the early 1950's to an ultra-poor family in Kundihar, a remote village of Banaripara of Barisal division in Bangladesh. She was a beautiful baby and her father named her 'Shahndah Rani' which means 'Queen of Evenings'. But in reality her life was far from that of a queen.
Born into acute poverty, there were days when she went without any food. Rani's parents could not afford any schooling and gave her away in marriage at age 16 to relieve some of the pressures on them. She was married off to Monoranjan Dhar, who despite being poor himself, cared for Rani.
Soon after she moved in with her husband, Rani started working to produce lime from snail shells in the traditional way, by hand. Lime is one of the ingredients used in the consumption of betel leaf. Many people in Bangladesh and other South Asian countries are dependent on betel leaf or 'paan' chewing, which also includes other ingredients such as areca nut and often tobacco. It is chewed for its stimulant effects. Historians claim that betel leaf chewing has been part of South Asian culture for hundreds of years.
Rani's struggle for survival began at the time of Bangladesh's independence in 1971. She managed to save a capital fund of just 65 dollars, which she used to buy firewood and for collecting snail shells from ponds, marshland and swampland around her village. On the very first day of her business venture, she produced one kilogram of lime, which she was able to sell in a nearby rural market for about one US dollar.
Rani quickly realized that she was on the right track and understood the market value and demand. She's never looked back.
Her husband Monoranjan proudly says, "Rani is energetic and she can think well. She gives me the courage and confidence to face the challenges of poverty together."
Following four decades of hard work, Shandha Rani is now an icon for rural entrepreneurs in her village and community. Her husband and three adult sons work with her. She has also created jobs for three more people.
Several other women and men are following Rani's footsteps. Dipali Rani is one of them, who also started producing lime. The local people have renamed the village Lime Para (village).
"It is good. Traders are now directly coming to us to buy our product. It also reduces our worries about marketing the product," said Manaranjan.
Rani is eager to expand her network and business into neighbouring districts, so she is negotiating with financial institutions for loans to invest. She has successfully set up a small workshop with an electric moulding machine, a fireplace to burn snail shells and storage space.
Rani is the proud owner of a motorboat for easy transportation of her product and raw materials. Her family home is now a tin-roofed, brick-walled house with a toilet on her own land. At present she has a running capital of about 10,000 dollars, with the capacity to produce 800 kg lime per day. However, lime from snail shells can't be produced year-round because of non-availability of the shells, particularly in dry or winter seasons.
"If initiatives are taken to cultivate snail shells, it will be a big push for lime production. It has a potential market in the country. Snail shells without flesh are the key raw material for lime production. Besides, their flesh has huge demand in fish cultivation farms as feed. Such initiatives will also create more job opportunities in rural areas," said James P. Biswas, Deputy Executive Director of the Bangladesh Development Society (BDS).
Rani's story is one of the success stories of BDS, an NGO based in Barisal working to support development of rural entrepreneurs with assistance from the Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a United Nations specialized agency.
Since 2000, BDS has been supporting Rani. She was able to take loans 16 times and each of these loans was repaid on time. The loan amounts vary between 200 and 6,000 dollars.
"The organization has provided loans for various purposes to dozens of families in this sub-district and there has been remarkable progress.
In most cases, beneficiaries have overcome poverty while at the same time creating jobs. With such success, BDS in partnership with the IFAD and PKSF is planning to increase the loan amount and help expand areas of activities," Biswas added.
Benoit Thierry, Country Program Manager in the Asia and the Pacific Division of IFAD, who recently visited the Kundihar village along with PKSF officials, met up with several beneficiaries including Shahndah Rani to assess the impact of IFAD support in this area. Over four decades, the Fund has been providing grants and loans to Bangladesh, with the aim of enabling poor people in vulnerable areas to adapt the pattern of their livelihoods to climate change; help small producers and entrepreneurs benefit from improved value chains and greater market access and economically and socially empower marginalized groups, especially poor rural women.
Currently, the Government of Bangladesh and IFAD are negotiating to undertake another six-year project, starting in 2018, to increase farmer incomes and livelihood resilience through demand-led productivity growth, diversification and marketing in changing climatic conditions.
The proposed 111-million-dollar programme is expected to directly benefit at least 250,000 rural households in eleven districts of the country's southern divisions of Chittagong and Barisal.PKSF General Manager Akond Md. Rafiqul Islam said, "For many years, access to credit, cooperation, technical support and technology transfer to the poor were limited.
Since its inception in 1990, PKSF has been working exclusively for their development in collaboration with 250 NGOs. In this context IFAD's continuous assistance makes it easier to address effectively the needs of moderate and ultra-poor people. Now you will find thousands of success and trend setting entrepreneurs like Shahndah Rani all over the country."
Things are moving and changing fast in Bangladesh. In a very real sense, these small rural entrepreneurs are strengthening the rural economy and creating huge job opportunities, Islam added. At present, PKSF is supporting more than 10 million poor people in the country, 90 percent of them women.
Israt Jahan, the top government official of Banaripara Upazilla, lauded IFAD, PKSF and NGO initiatives.
"Their activities are supplementing the government programmes, particularly in poverty alleviation, strengthening rural economy, empowerment of women and their participation in socio-economic development and cultural activities," Jahan said.
She added that, "The Bangladesh government has made remarkable progress on poverty alleviation. While connectivity between rural areas and cities are well established, we still need to do more and welcome any support from IFAD and PKSF for programmes undertaken to benefit rural people."

Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

Ekushey tells us to be free and fearless against injustice

THE Nation celebrates 'Amar Ekushey' today with due solemnity and colourful festivities to remember the Martyrs of the 1952 Language Movement. It is a landmark occasion and a day of awakening in the history of Bengali people that gave us the clear realization that we have our own language and ...

Cricket »

Captain of Bangladesh National Cricket (ODI) team Mashrafe Bin Mortaza handing over a crest of honour to Hafiz Yasin Arafat at the Bashundhara International Convention Centre in the city recently. Yasin Arafat became Hafiz-e-Quran in 86 days. He was a student of Tanjimul Ummah Hifz Madrasah of Cox's Bazar. Ahlul Huffaz Foundation Bangladesh arranged the reception programme.

Sports »

Medalists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating (from left) : Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, of France (silver), Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada (gold) and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the United States (bronze) pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Tuesday.

International »

Trump backs improved background checks on gun buys

US President Donald Trump signaled support Monday for improving background gun checks amid mounting pressure for reform in the wake of the Florida school shooting, as the accused gunman appeared in court.Nikolas Cruz, charged with killing 17 people, sat silently with his head bowed during a procedural hearing in Fort ...

International »

Nepal wants to deepen ties with China: K P Oli

PTI, Kathmandu : Nepal's new Prime Minister K P Oli has said he wants to deepen ties with China to explore more options and get more leverage in his dealings with India "in keeping with the times". Mr Oli, widely regarded as pro-China, also said he wants to "update" relations with ...

Business & Economy »

M Fakhrul Alam, Managing Director of ONE Bank Limited and Rezaul Islam, General Manager of Bangladesh Bank sign a participatory agreement regarding use of JICA assisted Foreign Direct Investment Promotion Project fund recently. Governor Fazle Kabir, Deputy Governor Abu Hena Moh. Razi Hasan, Executive Director Ahmed Jamal of Bangladesh Bank, chief representatives of JICA Bangladesh office Takatoshi Nishikata and among other were also present on the occasion.

Entertainment »

Inspired by the journey of Deepika and Anushka: Nidhhi Agerwal

Nidhhi Agerwal who hails from Bangalore and is living independently in Mumbai currently believes Deepika and Anushka's journey to the top has inspired her a lot. Just like the other two Bollywood divas, Nidhhi also went through her part of the struggle to make it to Bollywood. The young actress ...

City »

Law enforcers intercepted women leaders and activists of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal when they were going to visit BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia with fruits at Old Dhaka Central Jail on Tuesday.

Sports »

Medalists in the women's 12.5-kilometer mass start biathlon (from right) Belarus' Darya Domracheva (silver), Slovakia's Anastasiya Kuzmina (gold) and Norway's Tiril Eckhoff (bronze) pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Sunday.

Entertainment »

I am very excited about working with Akshay Kumar: Parineeti

Parineeti Chopra, who will be sharing screen space for the first time with Akshay Kumar, says she is excited to work with the superstar in Kesari.The film, being directed by Anurag Singh, will see Akshay essaying the role of Havildar Ishar Singh, while Parineeti plays his wife."(I) am very excited ...

Editorial »

We welcome UK`s removal of ban on direct air cargo

THE UK government has fully withdrawn the two-year-long ban on direct cargo flights from Dhaka to London ending the plight of exporters, particularly garment exporters who were facing difficulty to make emergency shipment of samples and other cargo to buyers within the stipulated time. The British government said it is ...

City »

Buyers flip through the books at a stall of Amar Ekushey Book Fair on Bangla Academy premises in the city on Monday.

International »

Syrian forces to back YPG` in fight against Turkey

Al Jazeera News :The Kurdish YPG fighters claim they have reached a deal to allow Syrian government troops to enter Afrin in the northwestern part of the border town.Nuri Mahmoud, a spokesman for the People's Protection Units (YPG), told Al Jazeera on Monday that they are calling on the Syrian ...

Editorial »

Cleansing operation to stop leakage of question

QUESTION leakage during the ongoing SSC examination showed that the government has no power and the Education Ministry has no control over the corrupt people handling the question papers. So far questions of all 10 tests were openly available around the examination centers in Dhaka city and other places from ...

Sports »

Simidele Adeagbo of Nigeria reacts in the finish area after the final run of the women's skeleton competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Saturday.

Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Write a comment to this news