Before I started my own business in the year of 2008, I used to supply leather-based raw materials from the tannery to a factory. After a few years, I noticed how widespread the Chinese leather bags had become. Then I realized that I could also start a business of my own in this sector since I was seeing first-hand how big the demand for these imported products were.
It’s been 14 years that I have been running my own enterprise, Smart Leathers. And believe it or not, all these years, I have been completely alone in managing everything. There was no support-system from my family, in fact, I was always discouraged. So, I had to fight and defend myself in order to ensure that I make a good business on my own. Even after all these years of running my business successfully, I still face restrictions. People just don’t want to accept a woman entrepreneur, they always see it as a negative thing. I was told to get a job if I needed the money, and not run a business by myself. But my response has always been, “Why would I get a job, when I am able to create jobs for so many people?”
There have been quite a few problems in managing my business, however, the main problem has always been financing. Since there was no one to help me and support me, my business was initiated with my own investment which I gathered by selling my gold jewelry, worth BDT 70,000. With this money, I bought two old, used machines and rented a space as a sub-let. This was a big challenge that I had to take up. Afterward, I had taken loans from Mercantile Bank and Mutual Trust Bank. I am happy to state that I have earned back the 70,000 Taka with which I started my business. Although I have paid off a lot of my debt, there is still some left.
My business was going well, but due to Covid-19, some big clients of mine canceled orders. These are the clients from Saudi Arabia, Canada, and America that I would export to. So when I lost them due to the pandemic, my business went downhill. However, now that we are recovering from the Covid-19 situation, only the Canadian market opened itself for imports, but there’s still no news from either Saudi or America.
I came to know about LightCastle from a training program they arranged called WeConnect. I really enjoyed this training and then told LightCastle that I want to be kept in touch for further programs/training. Then I got myself involved with the B-SkillFUL project. My business is starting to get better. I definitely have future plans for my business. From the very beginning, my dream was to ensure that my factory would help enhance employment, and thus, would give rise to an increase in our country’s economic growth. I also have an agro-business back in Jashore and helped some people to get employed. But I am always striving, no matter the circumstance, to open up a factory in Jashore, where my in-laws live and help decrease unemployment there. I have already bought land, but now the rest is up to God to help me live in good health to see my dream become a reality.