Sathi Mahmud is one of the six thousand entrepreneurs from the small and cottage industry in Faridpur.
Since last year, she has struggled to keep her small clothing business afloat. To make matters worse, her husband was laid off by his employers. Sathi and her husband with their two children are now passing an uncertain time without a steady income.
Asma Sultana Bithi is the owner of Rajkanya Boutique Shop in the West Khabaspur area of the city. She has four employees in her store and some 50 – 60 freelancers who work with her. During the pandemic, she is struggling to pay her employees in time.
"When the virus situation improved for a while this year, I tried to get back on track with my business but with the latest lockdowns, I am back to square one. I am now living off my savings," Bithi added.
Nahid Nasrin, another entrepreneur from the district's Goyalchamot area is in a similar position. She makes clothes with her designs but amid the pandemic, her sales have gone down steeply.
In March this year, Nahid took part in an exhibition organised by Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) Faridpur but with the latest wave of the pandemic, the exhibition was discontinued.
SM Kuddus Mollah from the Nagarkanda Upazila of the district has a nursery, orchard, and compost fertiliser factory. His sales have been poor amid the pandemic. He took a loan of Tk5 lakh from BSCIC to revive his business but due to the continuous lockdowns, he has not been successful.
Now the entrepreneurs, with their back against the wall, wonder what would happen to their businesses if the virus situation deteriorates and strict lockdowns continue. They also expressed frustration over the inadequate support from the government.
BSCIC Faridpur's Deputy General Manager (DGM) Md Golam Hafiz said that so far, the government has helped 35 entrepreneurs from the district by distributing a total of Tk2 crore incentives.
BSCIC has also provided Tk40 lakh loans from its own fund to the entrepreneurs from small and cottage industries, he added. Hafiz said the loans have a very low interest rate of 4%.
He said that BSCIC, Faridpur also has organised an online exhibition on 11 July for the entrepreneurs from small and cottage industries that are currently going on.
"BSCIC Faridpur is also organising regular skill development training for these entrepreneurs and we are closely monitoring their situation," Hafiz added.