The history of Hasina Kutir Shilpo, a 50-year-old small and cottage industry in Barishal, has proved that success is inevitable if one works with strong will.
Hasina Kutir Shilpo (Hasina cottage industry) has become an exemplary success in the field of small and cottage industry for entrepreneurs of the southern region of the country, producing numerous unique household products.
The small and cottage industry produces around 400 different kinds of products from wood, metal, coconut shell (aicha) and various other easily available raw materials.
Hasina Kutir Shilpo is one of the top suppliers of the country's most popular small and cottage industry brand Aarong. Most of its products, enriched with aesthetically distinguished designs, are supplied to Aarong.
Anower Hossain, founder of the company, first started his business in 1969, with a small capital of Tk60 which was given to him by a politician. He named his small and cottage industry venture — Hasina Kutir Shilpo — by his mother's name Hasina Begum.
Anower was fascinated by different art products since his childhood and had a keen interest to make home decoration products with his own effort.
At first, he used to make different kinds of household showpieces from coconut shells, but back half a century ago, it did not have enough demand then. At the beginning, Anower produced a very limited number of products and sent those to Dhaka.
At that time, he could barely support his family and his staff from the earnings he made. However, he continued his struggle for a long time with a very marginal profit without losing patience. Finally, more than two decades after setting up the business, he started making some profit at last in 1995.
"At first I had to work alone with the support of my family. Then I hired some female workers and trained them how to make different kinds of household products and decoration pieces," said Anower, adding that besides the cottage business, he had to work outside to earn extra money to support his family.
Many of his well wishers suggested that he leave the cottage industry, but he was adamant and determined to carry on his venture.
After 2000, Anower started making significant profit selling the products, after his two sons grew up, the elder one, Arifur Rahman, joined hands with the father. Arif started to produce the same products with his father.
They used to make their products using raw materials only till 2011. Since then, they have used some locally made machines for making their products.
"Every business has its own ups and downs. Just after, we started using machines in 2011, we incurred such a huge loss that we lost almost all assets of the factory," said Arifur Rahman, adding that the loss occurred when they participated at a number of fairs in Dhaka for two months at a stretch, with a hope of making a good profit. Instead, we counted huge losses due to low selling."
Arif said, "When we returned to Barishal after counting the huge loss from Dhaka, we had only three taka at hand and some unsold products. But we did not loss hope. Selling those unsold products at an Eid fair in barishal, we managed that year's Eid."
Arif then wished to purchase a digital machine for producing different products from woods. "I sold my last asset, my motorbike, at a cost of Tk50,000 and took a loan of Tk4,50,000 from a local bank," said Arif, adding that he learned how to operate the machine from YouTube, and started production with the machine.
"The wood products brought success for us," said a smiling Arif.
Now they have five digital machines for producing metal and wood products as well as fifteen locally-made machines for making products from coconut shells.
Our company now produces at least 10,000 different products every month. The cost of the products ranges from Tk10 to Tk50,000, depending on size and design, said Arif, adding as metal products are costly we prepare those after getting orders from customers.
At first, the factory was established at Rupatoli in Barishal city and now another new factory has been set up at BSCIC in Barishal. The factories have created employment for around 30 people.
"At present, I sell products worth at least Tk10 lakh a month," said Arif.
The woods and coconut shell products are mainly supplied to Arong and also distributed to different parts across the country.
"I have bought a metal staircase from Hasina Kutir Shilpo. Its design and quality has fascinated me," said Shahidul Islam, a customer of the factory and a dweller of the divisional city.
Informing that some of their customers also come from different districts for metal products, the father and the son said that they have a dream to export their products to different countries.
They said we can set up more machines and produce more products if we get our own plot in the BSCIC Barishal. Presently, we are using a rented plot there.
"I am pleased to see the products of the factory and try to manage a plot to give them," said Jalij Mahmud, the deputy general manager of Barishal BSCIC.