When hotels and restaurants in Chattogram remained closed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, homemade food businesses gained momentum in the city and surrounding upazilas.
Using mobile phones and social media, the businesses expanded rapidly at that time.
People choose to purchase hygienic, quality, fresh food, online, to taste delicacies and avoid the risk of becoming infected with Covid-19.
Increasingly, women entrepreneurs are moving their homemade businesses online, every day, as huge demand for such food has created a new earning opportunity.
Monowara Hakim Ali, president of the Chattogram Women Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said, "While almost all businesses have been facing huge losses during the novel coronavirus pandemic, our women have been getting engaged in the homemade food business through the use of technology."
"Small business entrepreneurs have emerged amid a crisis, which is an important milestone in our economy," she said.
She further said the women's chamber will provide the entrepreneurs training, help them create links to obtain loans on easy terms from banks and develop a market based on their products.
Selina Aktar, from Kazir Dewri area of Chattogram city, has been running a homemade food business for 10 years.
Her company, Sayed Kitchen, used to sell food items worth Tk10,000 per week in normal times, but after the Covid-19 pandemic hit, she has been selling products worth Tk30,000 every week, on average.
Selina told The Business Standard, "People became interested in homemade food when hotels and restaurants were closed at the beginning of the novel coronavirus crisis. We are continuously gaining more and more customers, as we guarantee we will deliver hygienic fresh food items."
"We deliver food by our own riders and through different food supply apps," said the owner of Sayed Kitchen.
Ishrat Jahan, a kindergarten school teacher from Halishahar area in Chattogram, said she started a homemade food business in March 2019 for school children who need light refreshments during school time.
She started a campaign on Facebook for her brand, Tiffin Tiffin, when the shutdown over novel coronavirus started this year. This campaign has drawn a huge response and now the number of orders she receives has increased several times.
Mainul Haque, a resident of Sholokbahar area, said, "Going to restaurants with family members has now become very risky. So, we order homemade food items online, and the sellers deliver those to our homes."
Sairin Sakhi, founder of another homemade food service, Shakhi's Tuki-Taki, told The Business Standard that homemade food services guarantee customers the delivery of delicious hygienic food.
"I started this business two months ago. My family members are encouraging and helping me a lot," she said.
Homemade food business entities are cropping up–even in upazilas outside of Chattogram city. Many food manufacturers are creating Facebook groups and pages and posting images of their products.
Customers choose their desired food items and order them, which are delivered to their homes within hours.
Sharif Mahmud, admin of Mirsarai e-Commerce Forum (Mef), a Facebook group of new entrepreneurs from Mirsarai upazila, said the Covid-19 pandemic has set off a rapid expansion of online businesses.
"The Mef group was launched with an aim to create new entrepreneurs in this sector," said Sharif.
He said the group is especially focusing on homemade food sellers.
"Not only do the sellers post images and information about their items, but the customers also post about the food items they want. This group is connecting entrepreneurs with buyers," he added.
Tanjina Akter Tanju, owner of Tanju Online Shopping, said she has been selling dresses online, but she added homemade foods to her online shop two months ago as the demand for such items has been increasing.
Her decision proved timely as she got a great response from customers.
Tanjina said, "I cater around 20 items–including some spicy snacks, biriyani, pizza, and chicken fry–to customers through our delivery services."
Tanjina, like many others in the business, thinks that the homemade food businesses will witness rapid growth if the sellers can maintain the quality of their services.