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18 August, 2019 08:46:59 AM

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Success starts with small step

customised gift Items
Sharif Ahmed, Dhaka
Success starts with small step

‘Custom-made paper gift items’ are a brainchild of Md Sajib, a young Bangladeshi entrepreneur, who heads the SB Gift Shop. Sajib told The Independent that he had started working on the idea of customised gift items back in 2016, while he was still doing a full-time job.    

“I wanted to do something different and unique besides my regular 9-to-5 job.

I started my online business in 2016 with a capital of only Tk 1,500, which is now a  Tk 4 lakh business,” Sajib said.

When asked about the idea of customised gifts, Sajib explained they were custom-made according a customer’s specifications. “We make the gift item based on customer’s requirement,” he added.            

Sajib said, “I started my online gift shop business on October 27, 2016 with customisable paper-made gift product. Later, I left my job and fully devoted myself to the business.      

“Besides paper craft products, I also sell online wooden craft products in which all the pieces can be customised. I sell lights for decoration, and banners, too.”

This correspondent spoke to Sajib at the ‘Bangladesh Youth Enterprise Advice and Helpcentre (BYEAH) Entrepreneurs Fair’, which ended recently in the capital.

The fair recorded vigorous business, as sales picked up with stall owners cutting product prices and offering promotional discounts to visitors thronging the ‘Uddokta Mela’.

The three-day fair was organised by the (BYEAH) held at the capital’s Women’s Voluntary Association (WVA). The theme of the event was: ‘Employee will be the Employer’. Most of the young entrepreneurs who had stalls at the fair, told The Independent, “Products worth around Tk 10 lakhs have been sold at the fair and we have received spot orders of around Tk 15 lakh.”

The entrepreneurs said proper policy support and more financial incentives could increase sales domestic and international sales three times in the next couple of years.

Talking about his products at the fair, Sajib said, “I displayed all types of customised products made with paper such as scrapbook, infinity box, Eid cards, chocolate box, and wedding gifts.”           

 Wooden products included customized diaries, frames, pen boxes, name plates, etc., along with various types of fairy lights and wax-candles, he added.

When asked about the prices, he said they ranged from Tk 300–2,200. The paper-made chocolate box was the most-selling item at the fair, he informed. About his future plans, he said, at present, three people were working directly under SB Gift Shop and 20 people were working indirectly by selling his products online.

They sold the products through smartphones and earned some extra cash by working from home.

Pointing to some challenges, he said there was a scarcity of raw materials in the local market that hindered business expansion. Secondly, not many people realise that gifts can actually be customised.             

‘Samo Leathers’ started its journey in 2016. It  participated at the fair for the second time.     

A young entrepreneur and founder of Samo Leathers Saiful Islam Momin told The Independent, “I started my business with a capital of only Tk 25,000 and one machine. Today, after struggling for three years, I have a small factory of leather products with six machines, more than Tk 10 lakh capital and 15 employees are working under me.”

At present Samo Leathers produces wallets, belts, ladies’ bags, office bags, file covers, jackets, backpacks, file covers, card holders, key rings and many other types of leather goods.

 “We showcased and sold all types of products at the fair,” said Momin.

“Moreover, I have sold products of worth around Tk 30,000 at the 3-day fair,” he added.

Asked, whether Samo Leathers also exported its products, he said, “We export products to four countries—China, Japan, Italy and Spain.”

Outlining the challenges before young entrepreneurs, he said capital was the main obstacle to business expansion.

About his company’s future plans, Momin said, “I want my factory to be a fully compliant factory within three years where 100–150 people will get employment.”

“We have participated in this fair to showcase our product and the response was tremendous,” said Momin.

When asked about types of products, he said that four types of leather products were displayed at the fair—snake-skin design leather belts costing around Tk 700–750, snake-skin design leather belt-2, priced at Tk 800, leather moving belt costing Tk 890 and part leather cutting belt priced around Tk 650.

 ‘Top Leather’, a leather product manufacturer that started its journey in just a few months ago, participated at the fair for the second time.      

A young entrepreneur and founder of ‘Top Leather’ Kaniz Fatema told The Independent, “I started my business with a capital of only Tk 10 lakh. Today, I have a small factory of leather products located in Hazaribagh. I have with six machines and more than five employees work under me.”

Describing the products, she said, currently, Top Leather produces primarily Nagra shoes, shoes, sandals, for both female and male, and other types of leather goods. “We showcased and sold all types of products but ‘Nagra’ was the product which grabbed the attention of the buyers at the fair,” she said.

The retail price of Nagra was Tk 1,850 at the fair, she added.   

“Moreover, I have sold products worth around Tk 22,000 at the 3 day fair,” she added. Asked, whether Top Leathers also exported its products, she said, “We will export our products in future.”

Outlining the challenges before young entrepreneurs, she said getting capital was the main obstacle.

Pointing out another challenge, she said, “Our entrepreneurs have shortcomings in marketing their products. They don’t have enough marketing knowledge to export successfully.”

“We also have a shortage of efficient designers who can design the products well,” she felt.       

About her future plans, Fatema said, “I want my factory to be a fully compliant factory within three years where 100–150 people will get employment.”

“I want to open retail outlets in all the districts across the country.  That’s my dream”, she added.  

“We have participated in this fair to showcase our products and the response was tremendous,” said Fatema.

Director of the International Affairs e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB) President Razib Ahmed told The Independent that more start-up companies should participate in such fairs and the BYEAH should organise this fair not only in Dhaka but in other parts of the country as well.

“We want more e-commerce companies to participate in this fair,” he added.

Citing an example of e-commerce growth, he said last year 30-40 thousand orders were placed each day through online across the country. “But this year, it has doubled to 60-70 thousand per day. So, this statistics show that e-commerce business is growing not only in the capital city, but also across the country.”

Each day, the amount of products being sold in e-commerce is not less than Tk. 200 crore and increasing at 50 per cent a year, said Razib Ahmed.

Golam Mainuddin, board member of BYEAH, said such fairs could play a special role in helping the youth gain confidence to build a developed country by strengthening its future.

He also thinks that this fair will help young people to become employers.

There were a total of 60 stalls at the fair. They displayed products such as hand-made garments, herbal cosmetics, leather goods, food items, electronics products, gift items and various types of materials.  

 

SI

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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