Zohra Khanom, an MA student at Chattogram Government City College, started Mehedi Design & Fashion in 2016 with a capital of Tk2,000. After participating in women entrepreneur fairs and through her henna art in weddings and various social events over the past four years, she earns Tk1 lakh a month on average from her online-based business.
Like Zohra, many entrepreneurs from Dhaka and Chittagong, as well as expatriate women, set up 28 stalls in the Winter Exhibition organised by M&M Business Communications and hosted by Radisson Blu Chattogram Bay View. These stalls sell a range of products, including clothing made by both local and foreign designers, cosmetics, jewellery, home decor, perfumes, etc.
Women entrepreneurs who took part in the Winter Exhibition said their business had collapsed in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. Rather than focus on selling products, they prioritized the exhibition with a view to creating a new customer base. They believe such an arrangement will play a positive role in recouping the losses that occurred during the pandemic.
Manzuma Mozumder, CEO of M&M Business Communications, told The Business Standard that the motive behind the exhibition was not only commercial gain, but also the promotion of products by women entrepreneurs. Everything a woman could possibly need is sold under one roof.
On average, on any given day, each stall sells products worth over Tk5 lakh, but during the pandemic, we assume that Tk2 lakh worth of products will be sold. As such, products worth Tk56 lakh will be sold in 28 stalls. This exhibition will play a role in reviving the business, which has come to a standstill due to the pandemic, she added.
Managing Director of Mehedi Design and Fashion, Zohra Khanom, said she currently employs 10 people in her company. Such exhibitions help women entrepreneurs to expand their business and create new customers.
Model and actress Suzana Zafar, the proprietor of Suzena's Closet, who participated in the fair, said an exhibition like this encourages shoppers to buy both local and foreign-designed products of their own choosing.
Mim Aliya Khan, the owner of Glamor Room, said, "My business is Dubai-based. I came to Bangladesh to take part in various exhibitions as a hobby. I decorated the stall with products from Dubai."
Yesmin Akter, the proprietor of Alia Jewellery, said, "After our business came to a standstill due to the pandemic, we are confident that our business will revive thanks to such exhibitions."
The Winter Exhibition started on Thursday and will continue till 12 December. Hand sanitizers and masks are kept at the entrance to prevent Covid-19 infection. Space is kept between two stalls to maintain social distance.
Tarin Sultana, who visited the fair, told The Business Standard there is an opportunity to buy all kinds of products under one roof. She acknowledged the excellent logistical arrangements taken by the organizers to prevent Covid-19 infections.