Weaving the way to success
Entrepreneur Shafia Shama completed her second post-graduate degree from BRAC University after more than two decades of study gap. Her journey of finding herself during those years propelled her towards success and gratification.
Shafia started out with Studio Uran in 2003, after fighting with her family to pursue her dreams. She did block prints on clothing for sale all by herself with a starting capital of BDT 4,000.
Her tenacity to engage with people, and get work done allowed her to easily break through professional barriers that could have been. Following her clothing line, Shafia opened a jute factory in 2007 for her brand M/S Shama, which produces biodegradable, diversified jute products such as corporate gifts, bags, and decorative items.
While working as an SME trainer with Care Bangladesh, she visited several international fares, which in turn, provided her with connections and buyers and allowed her to eventually export jute products.
"In 2019, I shut down my jute factory, but the massive expansion of work in the online world encouraged me to dip my toes back into selling clothes and jute products. My clothing factory is still open, but for the orders related to jute, I outsource the finished products from different factories," explains Shafia.
The same year, she was the first person from Bangladesh to qualify for a fellowship programme from Women in the Vital Voices Global Leadership Network on business, with Hillary Clinton as chairperson of the initiative. She also won the Australian Award for Women Trading Globally by the Australian government.
Shafia is one of the three female entrepreneurs whose portfolio is published on the website of the project by WEconnect International and IFC, World Bank Group, which aims to create sustainable market linkages between women-owned businesses as well as local and multinational corporations in Bangladesh.
She spoke on behalf of Bangladesh during the 11th Women's Affairs Ministerial Meeting in Samoa in 2016.
In February this year, Studio Uran took part in an exhibition on Bangladeshi fabrics, for which Shafia presented typographic sarees with lyrics from S D Burman's songs.
In the future, she looks forward to pursuing a PhD degree academically, while professionally, she hopes to see Studio Uran take flight by producing authentic Bangladeshi products that stand out amongst popular designs and brands in South Asia.
The author is a freelance journalist. Email: email@example.com