- Online food sales gained momentum after the Covid-19 outbreak
- 30-35 female entrepreneurs in Brahmanbaria now sell homemade food
- They sell food worth more than Tk30 lakh monthly
The home-cooked food business became popular among female entrepreneurs in Brahmanbaria when hotels and restaurants in the district town remained closed due to Covid-19.
Some 30-35 female entrepreneurs from the district sadar and Ashuganj upazila town are now running home-cooked food businesses online, selling a range of food items worth Tk30 lakh.
Using social media or in association with Foodpanda, a popular food delivery app, female entrepreneurs have been selling homemade Bangladeshi and Chinese cuisine online since the Covid outbreak.
The home-cooked food business is picking up – even in Ashuganj upazila, outside of Brahmanbaria district town, to cash in on the huge demand for home-cooked healthy food at cheaper prices.
On average, each of these 30 or so women running business entities sells online food items worth Tk3,000 every day. As such, their aggregate monthly sales are at or over Tk30 lakh.
Alongside Bangladeshi and Chinese cuisine, they also sell bakery items online.
The Business Standard (TBS) talked to several female entrepreneurs who are actively engaged in the online homemade food business. All of them have become financially self-reliant doing business online.
They said the closure of eateries in Brahmanbaria as per government directives due to the pandemic created an opportunity for female entrepreneurs to start online homemade food businesses.
People choose to buy hygienic, quality, fresh food online, to enjoy delicacies during the Covid shutdowns, they added.
Moreover, food lovers consider homemade food to be healthier than restaurant food, and that too at a cheaper price.
Poly Akther, owner of Tiffin Box, an online food delivery service, told TBS she has been earning a livelihood with her online food delivery service ever since her husband died from Covid-19. After all expenses, she says she earns Tk30,000-Tk35,000 monthly from the business.
Poly Akhter said that initially she took customer orders on her Facebook page. Now she also takes some orders over the phone and delivers the home-cooked food to customers within hours. "Currently I am delivering food to different banks and hospitals. With this, I have sales of around Tk4,000- 5,000 every day," she added.
Ashuganj upazila's female entrepreneur Umme Honey said, "I have not finished my studies yet but I sell home-cooked healthy food at affordable prices with lower-middle income people in mind. Different fast food and bakery items have also become very popular."
Another female entrepreneur, Shahida Akhter Asha, owner of Ashaj Baking Beauty, told TBS, "I deliver food items worth Tk3,000 on an average every day. Basically, employees and bachelors order my food. We provide Bengali and Chinese cuisine and I also make birthday cakes. I have a 30% profit on average."
Advocate Taslima Sultana Khanom Nishat, former president of Brahmanbaria Sadar upazila Nari Unnayan Forum, said "Many men lost their jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic and then women stepped in to support the family expenses and became entrepreneurs in their own rights. Through their online homemade food businesses, these women have become financially self-reliant.
"If female entrepreneurs get incentives from the government or bank loans, they will increasingly play an important role in the country's economy," she said.
The restaurant owners association says women entrepreneurs are not following government rules and regulations, although they are indeed becoming self-reliant with their online food businesses.
Mohammad Shah Alam, president of Brahmanbaria District Restaurant Owners' Association, said, "We do business in accordance with government rules and regulations and pay taxes to the government. Restaurants use commercial gas lines but women entrepreneurs are doing business using residential gas lines. Moreover, they do not pay any tax to the government."
The association urges women entrepreneurs to do business following government rules and regulations for online businesses.