He had arrived in the capital with only Tk70. Then throughout his career he established around 20 companies where he employed some 10,000 people. The annual turnover of these companies crosses thousand crore taka.
This is the story of Abdul Monem – a pioneer in Bangladesh's construction industry.
At the age of 83, Abdul Monem died at the Combined Military Hospital in the capital on Sunday.
Under his entrepreneurship and leadership, a number of organisations were operational including Igloo ice cream, agro-processed foods, sugar, pharmaceuticals, and power generation.
This pioneer was involved in numerous infrastructure development projects including development of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and Osmani International Airport, connecting road and service area construction for the Padma Bridge, Mohakhali and Saidabad bus terminal, construction of the four-lane Dhaka-Chattogram Highway, among others.
In line with construction, he also turned into a multi-disciplinary businessman and received several awards including The President's Award for Industrial Development.
After arriving in Dhaka in 1950 after completing his SSC from Brahmanbaria, Abdul Monem took a job as a section officer at a construction company. Alongside his service, he continued his academic activities. And finally, in 1956 he built his own construction company - AML Civil Construction Company -after completing his Civil Engineering Diploma.
Now, the company is bidding with international companies and implementing large projects. Though he did not have any capital in the beginning, his sincerity and honesty has made him the best in the sector.
"My father was sincere and honest. For the quality services, Monem has become an international-grade company," said Moinuddin Monem, his son and deputy managing director the company.
During an interview with a daily newspaper about his career, Abdul Monem said, "I got two offers after completing my civil engineering degree. One was a government job and the other was to be a contractor under a partnership with more than 10 percent as a shareholder."
"I opted for the second one," he said. The business ran well. But seven years later his partner decided to quit.
"It was unexpected for me and my lone journey began with Tk20,000 in hand," continued the gray-haired man with a touch of nostalgia.
The first contract he won was to supply bricks for the Ishwardi-Nandail road in Mymensingh. He was able to complete the task by virtue of a Tk60,000 loan he got from one of his well-wishers, said Monem.
"I made a profit of Tk 120,000," he said during the interview.
Since then, Monem never looked back as his businesses grew on the back of his sincerity and ability to take high risks to accomplish challenging tasks.
The 44-kilometre Khulna-Mongla highway, which was constructed in 1984, was such a risky venture that Monem took and won.
"It's one of the toughest tasks I had to go through," he said, recalling his first visit to the site before starting the construction.
The Khulna-Mongla highway was not the only example of gigantic tasks like building dams to change the flow of the Dhaleshwari river to save the Dhaleshwari Bridge from erosion.
The testimony of Monem Construction could be found in various infrastructure development projects including those aided by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Japan Bank for International Cooperation and Islamic Development Bank.
In 1982, Monem acquired K Rahman & Company and started bottling Coca-Cola beverages.
Five years later, Monem established a new bottling plant in Cumilla and Abdul Monem Ltd (AML) expanded the capacity to help Coca-Cola retain its leadership in the beverage market.
Alongside AML, Abdul Monem was the chairman and director of the following entities that include - Abdul Monem Economic Zone Limited, AMEZ Power Limited, Abdul Monem Sugar Refinery Limited, AM Channel Limited, AM Energy Limited, AM Development Limited, AM Beverage Limited, AML Power Limited, and AM Consulting Limited, among others.
Moreover, Abdul Monem was the director of Progati Insurance Limited, director of National Life Insurance Company Limited, and director of NCC Bank.
He left behind two sons and three daughters, relatives and a host of well-wishers to mourn his death.
He was supposed to be buried at his family graveyard in Brahmanbaria.