Little did Nurul Islam BSc know when he quit his job in customs in 1978 to start a business where he was destined to build a fortune.
That's exactly what happened. His Sanowara Corporation was one of the leading consumer goods importers in the country from its inception till 2008.
Since 1990, Sanowara Group has been expanding its business in various sectors besides consumer goods. The group currently has 12 subsidiaries and its annual turnover is Tk300 crore. The total capital of the group is Tk2,000 crore. At present, about 1500 people are employed under the group. It plans to further expand its businesses to cosmetics and snacks very soon.
Apart from the consumer goods business, Sanowara Corporation has been the sole agent in Bangladesh of the Australian powdered milk brand Redcow since 1978. Sanowara ran a successful business with RedCow for 25 long years until 2003.
Sanowara Poultry and Hatchery was established in 1987 on 300 acres of land in Dohazari area of Chandanaish. Nurul Islam has been very successful in the industry for 25 years and is regarded as the pioneer in the poultry and hatchery industry in Chattogram.
Unilac Sanowara (BD) Limited was established in 1991 in Chandgaon Industrial Area to import and repackage powdered milk. At one time, Diploma Falcon brand powdered milk was packaged and marketed from this factory. At present, powdered milk is marketed under the names of Kwality, Diplomilk and Budget. The factory currently employs more than 150 workers.
Sanowara Dairy & Industries Limited was established in 1995. The factory produces quality brand butter oil and quality ghee. It employs 50 people.
Sanowara Group's Kwality ice cream holds third position in the country's ice cream market. The ice cream brand offers some 80 different varieties and there are 40 types of premium quality ice creams, which are marketed under the brand name of Kwality and Subzero.
The ice cream and Yes brand mineral water are marketed by Sanowara Drinks and Beverages Industries Limited, founded in 1998. The factory currently employs more than 500 people.
The group produces quality condensed milk and quality powdered milk at Sanowara Dairy Foods Limited. Founded in 2004, the factory currently employs 30 people.
Sanowara Plastic Products Limited was established in 1998 in Kalurghat Industrial Area. The factory produces a variety of plastic products, including containers and bottles. The factory currently has 50 workers.
The group's Sanowara Holding Limited has been doing business in the Chattogram real estate sector since 1998. The company has implemented a 'Sanowara Residential Project' in Maulvi Pukur Par area of the city. This is the first residential project in Chattogram. Later, 'Sanowara Residential Second Project' was implemented in the Bolir Hat area. At present a third project called 'Sanowara City' is underway in North Chandgaon.
Sanowara Consumer Products Limited has been marketing Kwality Tea and Kwality Chips since 2010. The company has a good market for its quality tea in neighbouring districts, including Chattogram.
Sanowara Packaging Industries Ltd. was set up in 1997 in West Khulshi of the city. The carton company currently employs 120 people.
Sanowara International Products Ltd manufactures various toiletries products, including toilet cleaner, floor cleaner, glass cleaner, furniture signer and dish cleaner. The factory was set up in 1994 in the Kalurghat BSCIC industrial area of the city and currently employs 50 people.
Quality Furniture Factory was established in 2011. The furniture of this factory in Kalurghat area of the city is going all over the country, including the neighbouring districts of Chattogram. More than 50 workers are working in this factory.
The group last formed in 2019 by Sanowara Agro Limited produces and markets a variety of frozen food, including Chicken Chumcha, Roll, Vegetable Chumcha, Vegetable Singara, Dalpuri, Anthan, Ruti, Parata, Nuggets and French Fries. More than 100 people are working in this factory.
The Sanowara Group also has four convention halls in upscale areas of the city, including Fifth Avenue.
Nurul Islam BSc was born in 1943 in a middle class family in Chandgaon area of Chattogram city. He passed his matriculation exam in 1959. Then he was admitted to Intermediate class in the Science Department of Chattogram College. He had to sell off his mother's earrings to cover the cost of books. At the time, Nurul Islam BSc promised that if he could establish himself in life, he would work to bring education to the doorsteps of the people.
He was a BSc candidate in 1964 when he got married to Sanowara Begum. At the end of the examination, he joined Rahmania School as a science and maths teacher with a salary of Tk200. At the time there was a shortage of BSc teachers and the students of the school used to call him Nurul Islam BSc Sir. Since then BSc has become his title. Later he left school teaching and joined customs on a salary of Tk375 per month. When the War of Liberation started while he was working in customs, he stole the map of "Karnafuli river channel" and provided it to the freedom fighters. Besides, Nurul Islam BSc is one of the 15-20 youths who began an armed struggle around Kalurghat radio station.
After successfully running a business since 1978, he has dedicated himself to social work since 1989. Nurul Islam BSc has so far set up 32 different educational institutions in Chattogram city and the surrounding upazilas and remote areas. At present about 15 thousand students are studying in these institutions. The Sanowara Group spends Tk1 crore a year to run these institutions.
Nurul Islam was elected MP from Kotwali constituency of Chattogram city with the boat symbol of Awami League. On 14 July 2015, Nurul Islam BSc became the Minister for Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment. He has also been serving as Vice President of Chattogram Metropolitan Awami League since 2012.
Nurul Islam BSc has retired from business due to old age and his eldest son Muzibur Rahman is currently the managing director of the group.
Muzibur Rahman, managing director of Sanowara Group, said, "Baba (Nurul Islam BSc) built these businesses from scratch through hard work and perseverance. Besides business, he devoted himself to the spread of education and social welfare. We want to further expand these businesses that he established."