Rabiul Islam, Rangpur
Ayon Furniture Garden

I did not get into business after my graduation. Initially, my plan was to get hands-on experience through a full-time job, and that’s what I did. I joined a construction company located in Gulshan, Dhaka. There my responsibilities were to assist the contractors in creating various furniture. I focused on learning technical skills while working on multiple projects at a time. However, the bigger picture for me was to add some value to my hometown, Rangpur. That’s why, after working for almost 15 years under others’ supervision, I finally started my enterprise in 2015.

I started the business on a small scale where my showroom, factory, and manpower were limited to produce products in a large quantity. My focus was to get a hold of the market by delivering furniture for both household and commercial space. The showroom was designed to appeal the individuals and families while we also took orders from large corporations or organizations. I believed that by producing all types of furniture, I would be able to capture a large portion of the market. However, reality does not always align with expectations.

At the end of 2015, I faced a huge financial crisis because of declining demand. My initial investment of BDT 8,00,000-10,00,000 was completely gone, and I was losing almost BDT 1,00,000 per month. A large portion of the investment goes to the factory rent and employee payments. Most of my workers were from Dhaka, and I had to pay them salaries despite having little to no orders. So, I took the decision to let go of most of my staff. With only 2-3 workers, I decided to take up orders and contracts in Rangpur and other districts as well. After a few months, my business was turning profitable again, and I knew I was going in the right direction.

So, when I regained my position in the market, I decided to scale up my business. I included tons of new machinery and equipment to deliver products with a more polished finish. I increased the size of the factory to accommodate the new additions to the enterprise. The workers were able to support the business with their high-level skills and expertise. After strugglings for some time, things were looking good, and I was gaining confidence because of the rapid increase in demands. The situation again changed when the pandemic started.

Honestly, the last two years was not easy for me. I could not open my factory because of on-and-off lockdowns. The orders from other districts also declined because of the transportation embargo. On the other hand, my workers were not able to work and were starting to find other jobs. I had to give them incentives to stay with my business. So, overall the situation was not favorable at all. Now, it’s starting to change, and everything seems hopeful again. While I’m yet to recover from the losses, I still see many possibilities ahead.

Recently I got to work with B-SkillFUL and LightCastle Partners to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and build resilience by strengthening the business processes and workforce capacity. I hope these training programs will be helpful to sustain my business for a long time. Because I have a lot of future plans for my business and don’t want to stop without achieving them.

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