Md. Nahidul Islam, Rajshahi
A Student Entrepreneur’s Journey

Growing up, I was surrounded by men who worked in the fisheries and aquaculture sector. My grandfather, my father, all devoted their lives to farming different types of fish for a living. That’s why, from my childhood, I was intrigued by the world of fish and wanted to walk on the same path as my ancestors. With that thought, even before finishing my studies, I started my journey to cultivate fish in our pond. Although it has only been 4 years of my business, I have already made significant progress.

As I was only a college student back in 2016, I did not have much capital. So, my father helped me both financially and mentally to start my business. The aquaculture sector was expanding in our area, and it allowed me to get a good pond on a lease. I started everything in a small manner because I did not want to risk anything. Raising ponas was the safest route for me as a young entrepreneur. I took extra precautions to avoid any diseases or problems. The production turned out to be profitable and that encouraged me to expand my horizon.

After the first year’s success, I decided to lease a bigger pond to start cultivating carp fish and some other mixed breeds. I was amazed to see that the output was very healthy, and I got to earn a large amount of profit. It gave me a further boost to increase the production and try other breeds as well. However, my plans did not come to fruition because of a tragedy.

The following year, one of the ponds was infected with insects. I consulted an aquaculture expert to learn about the remedy. A pesticide was suggested, and I applied it to the pond. However, I was too late to act. A large portion of my fish production was lost, and I had to suffer a heavy blow. Still, I managed to recover well enough even after losing some capital.

While the Covid-19 pandemic hit the majority of the country very severely, I did not face any significant setbacks. The market price for all the fish fell, but the demand for ponas was still high. That’s why it did not affect my income or profit significantly. In 2021, the price increased again, and I started to make more profit from my production. So, the pandemic was not much of a bother for me.

Oxfam and LightCastle Partners helped me a lot to start my career in the aquaculture sector. LightCastle Partners helped me to acquire funding for my business. Now, I am planning to open up a dairy farm. This year I could not lease any ponds because the ponds in my area had already been leased by others. So I spent that money to buy a cow. And hopefully, the number will continue to increase. So, putting my trust in the Almighty, I am looking forward to my future.