<i>Diligence, handiwork pay</i>
Otherwise an ordinary homemaker, Ismat Ara of Jorapukuria village under Harinakundo upazila in Jhenidah is now a well-known name in the area.
Through her diligence and entrepreneurial skill, Ismat, wife of sharecropper Shafiuddin Biswas of Jorapukuria village, has not only brought solvency to her family, but also opened employment opportunity for poor women in the area.
She is the president of 'Jharna Nari O Shishu Unnayan Sangstha' in Harinakundo upazila where 35 women work to make different kinds of bags, petticoats, blouses and handicrafts.
She has also employed nine poor housewives of Jorapukuria village to stitch nakshi kantha (embroidered quilt) at her house.
"Earlier we spent days amid hardship as my husband works as a sharecropper to maintain the family. To add to my family income I started making hand bags, ladies' bag, school bags and purses," said Ismat.
After taking a three-month training from Kathaltala bag factory in Jessore in 2009, she started making bags at her house.
Wholesale buyers collect different kinds of bags from her and supply it to different markets in Jhenidah and neighbouring districts. A portion of those also goes to the capital city Dhaka.
She can make 20 bags everyday.
A big size bag is sold for Tk 70/75, a small size one for Tk 40/45 and a mobile bag for Tk 20.
A woman does stitching work for two or three months to make a nakshi kantha at Ismat's house.
It costs Tk 4000 to make an ordinary nakshi kantha and over Tk 5000 for a finer one and each of the items sells for Tk 5000 and Tk 7000 respectively.
Shirina Khatun, a housewife of Jorapukuria village, said she gets Tk 1500 as wage for stitching a nakshi kantha.
"Doing the work in the spare time between my household chores, I can add to my family income," she said.
Bashona Khatun, a class seven student of Mandartala High School in Harinakundo upazila, said the money she earns by stitching nakshi kantha during the leisure time is used to buy her study materials.
Pintu Mia of Meherpur district said he buys bags from Ismat's shop and gets good profit by supplying it to different markets in the area.
Ismat, who is now in need of 'handsome capital' to develop her business, said, "If I get loan or financial help from any organisation or bank to invest in my business, I can provide jobs for more unemployed women in the area, especially widows and helpless women and poor girl students who find it hard to bear educational expenses."
She is also hopeful of getting order for nakshi kantha from clients of home and abroad when the production increases and quality improves.
Mahmudul Islam Foton, president of Jhenidah Chamber of Commerce, said he will try to provide necessary financial help for development of Ismat's business.