Abdul Momin used to work at a garment factory in Dhaka a couple of years ago. Now he runs a small factory at his Banglabazar village home and produces T-shirts that are exported to a neighbouring country.
Starting with Tk 10,000, his factory is now valued at Tk 5 lakh.
Like Momin, hundreds of small entrepreneurs in a number of villages in Pabna have created jobs for 25,000 to 30,000 people and annually produce 18 crore to 20 crore pieces of garments, mostly T-shirts, worth around Tk 1,200 crore to Tk 1,500 crore.
The primary source of raw material in the entire business is called jhut, the leftover fabrics and other accessories of export-oriented garment factories in Dhaka and Gazipur.
Initially, hosiery manufacturers used to sell their products in the local market. Now the T-shirts are exported to India, Malaysia and Bhutan, said Barik Hossain Jony, president of Pabna Hosiery Manufacturers Group.
Annual export earnings have risen to $5 million.
There are more than 1,000 small and big garment factories in a number of villages in the district.
Rasheduzzaman Rasel, a leading T-shirt producer, said he has been producing and selling products in the local market for two decades.
Recently, he received orders to sell the products in Malaysia and expanded his factory in a rented building accordingly.
Workers are reaping more benefits.
“When I worked at a garment factory in Gazipur a couple of years ago, I used to earn Tk 10,000 to Tk 12,000 a month, but I could not save much because everything was expensive there,” said Halima Khatun, a sewing operator in a factory in Noynamati village.
“Now I am earning the same amount but I can save some money.”
Each worker earns Tk 500 to Tk 600 a day, said Abdullah, a cutting master of the factory.
The factories have to go face some challenges also. One of those is the increasing prices of jhut resulting from monopoly on the business by a syndicate.
Abdus Salam, a small trader in Komorpur village, says small hosiery traders do not get soft loans or cash credit loans. “We borrow money from other sources at high interest rates.”
Pabna Deputy Commissioner Md Jasim Uddin said, “If they need soft loan, we can help them as per government rule.”