Shilpi Begum was born to a poor family and did not get much educational training beyond primary level.
When she was only 13, her parents married her off to a man whose financial condition was no better than her parents’.
To make matters worse, frequent illness of her husband, a resident of Dakkhin Sathalia village in Shaghata upazila, often kept him from providing for the family.
After a visit to a relative’s house in Naogaon eight years ago, Shilpi made a smart move that put behind her days of hardship.
There, Shilpi saw how an old lady was making food boxes and shopping bags with paper sheets, glue and simple hand tools such as scissors and staplers.
After coming home, Shilpi took a small loan from a local non-governmental organisation for her own paper box factory.
She started making paper boxes and shopping bags after collecting orders from local restaurants, food sellers, stationeries and tailoring shops.
For about a year, Shilpi and her husband worked till late at night to make around Tk 100 each day from the sales. In two years’ time, her income increased to Tk 200 a day, said Shilpi.
Back then it was really difficult for her to gather enough money to go to Bogura two times a week for buying paper sheets and other necessary materials for the business.
But now, the situation has improved a lot as the order quantity has increased, especially before different festivals, she said, adding that sometimes she cannot even keep up making enough products in time.
Thanks to the income generated from the business, she married off her only daughter and sending her two sons to school.
Lately it is getting more and more difficult to cope with the increased demand without modern packaging equipment.
She contacted local banks for a loan to buy the equipment, but they turned her down for not being able to provide any collateral, Shilpi also said.