From worker to apparel entrepreneur
After the death of her father, Chhobi Das Gupta started working as a garment worker at the age of 12. She dropped out of school and became the bread winner of a family of seven struck hard by poverty.
For the next 18 years, she worked at different garment factories contributing to the country's largest forex-earning sector. She managed admission at Bangladesh Open University as well but had to step back again due to financial stress.
Despite hardship, Chhobi had a dream that one day she would start a garment factory of her own and, to make that a reality, she started saving from her monthly salary.
After saving for 18 years, Chhobi finally started her own factory “Sense Fashion” at a rented flat in Chattogram's Khalifa Patti in February, 2016. She appointed six workers and bought 10 sewing machines with a capital of Tk 7 lakh -- Tk 5 lakh that she saved and the rest she borrowed.
Two years later, her business grew bigger prompting her to move the factory to Rabeya Tower in New Chaktai neighbourhood. She had more than 100 workers and 60 sewing machines at the new place.
“There was a time when I had to wait for my salary at the end of every month to feed my family members. Today, I disburse Tk 6 lakh in monthly salaries to my workers,” said the 32-year-old hailing from Pashchim Sholkata in Anwara upazila.
While talking to this correspondent at her factory on January 5, Chhobi said she had been demotivated by many people when she started the venture but nothing could derail her.
After moving the factory to New Chaktai, Chhobi faced objections from local businessmen and neighbours over running power generators. She tried to convince them and was finally able to run generators after four months' of tirelessly effort.
Chhobi mentioned her husband Amalendu Das Gupta and his friend Dipankar Dastidar when talking about motivation.
“Without their support, I would not reach this stage,” she said. “They were always by my side during the ups and downs and encouraged me whenever I broke down.”
Chhobi, without going into details, said she had heard of the government's loan schemes for women entrepreneurs but claimed that she had been turned down by several banks when she asked for money to expand her factory.
She made a plea to the government to provide her SME loans so that she could expand her factory and continue creating jobs.