Colourful safe-to-eat vegetables, handicrafts and boutique items adorn a table and hang from walls, bringing to a halt roaming visitors who get closer for a better look.
The products represent the dreams of 114,189 people from nine districts who are seeking to allure buyers and make a name for themselves.
The producers are all beneficiaries of PAGE Development Centre, a Cumilla-based NGO, participating in an ongoing weeklong development fair.
The fair, which is organised by the state-owned Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) at Bangabandhu International Conference Center, gives micro and small entrepreneurs in rural areas a chance to connect with a wide section of prospective buyers.
“Micro entrepreneurs get bulk orders from different business houses in Dhaka and other parts of the country at the fair. They can also understand what others are doing and when and how to expand business,” said Chowdhury Shawkat Ahmed, deputy director of the NGO.
Like Ahmed, Ashish Kumar Paul, senior assistant programme manager of the Society for Social Service (SSS), another NGO, said they have around seven lakh beneficiaries in 33 districts where their activities encourage entrepreneurship among rural people.
According to him, the beneficiaries receive credit from them at 11 percent interest and produce Nakshi Kantha, boutique items, different types of crafts and jute and agricultural products and farm livestock.
He hopes for their beneficiaries to gain a good experience about entrepreneurship and build a network with other participants at the fair.
Indeed, the PKSF is leading and showing the path for micro entrepreneurs who earlier could not dream of doing business for not only a crisis of funds but also a lack of knowledge.
The PKSF has built a network of around 250 partner NGOs who get funds from the government organisation at 6 percent interest for lending to rural off-farm activities at 11 percent. These partner NGOs along with their peers have been showcasing products developed by micro entrepreneurs at the fair.
Alpona Chakma, who works at the Centre for Integrated Programme and Development in Rangamati, said they lend funds to micro entrepreneurs in hill districts to produce handloom and agriculture products and traditional clothing of indigenous communities and for aquaculture.
“Hundreds of women have improved their livelihoods,” she said, adding that the fair was a great opportunity for them as it gave them exposure to a wide range of people.
Shampa Chowdhury, senior officer of Padakhep Manabik Unnayan Kendra, said they have created a total of 23,980 micro entrepreneurs, of which 70 percent were female. Her experience shows that around 60 percent of borrowers can succeed.