With the government mulling a fresh spell of stricter restrictions in light of a surge in Covid-19 infections, entrepreneurs who have taken part in the second cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises (CMSME) trade fair in Chattogram are apprehensive about the success of the fair.
The CMSME fair, held under the initiative of Chittagong Women Chamber Of Commerce and Industry, started in the port city on Friday.
While on a visit to the fair on Saturday noon, The Business Standard (TBS), found that preparation of all the stalls in the fair was almost over with many of them displaying their products for sale. However, there was hardly any crowd at the fair, even though it was a weekly holiday.
Maksuda Khatun, owner of Sabab Leather based in Hazaribagh of Dhaka, has hired a stall at the fair to sell leather products including bags and jackets.
She said, "The fair started yesterday. The number of visitors has thus far been very low. Hopefully, the fair will experience increasing footfalls as days go by."
The entrepreneur, however, expressed her fear that the worsening pandemic situation might leave a negative impact on the fair.
"The Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus has started to spread worldwide. The authorities are thinking of imposing fresh restrictions in the wake of the detection of Omicron cases in the country. This is likely to have an adverse effect on the fair."
Another entrepreneur, Mohammad Salahuddin has come to the fair with garment items from Dhaka's Elephant Road.
Salahuddin, the owner of SM Fashion, told TBS, "At present there is hardly any sales. And, since the number of Covid patients is on the rise, we are worried as to whether the sales will increase at all."
Mentioning that the spread of the Omicron variant has made them anxious, Rebecca Nasrin, chairman of the fair organising committee and director of the Chittagong Women's Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said if the government imposes any restrictions to deal with Omicron, the fair will continue abiding by them.
About 200 stalls and 4 pavilions have participated in this year's CMSME fair. Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud inaugurated the fair on Friday at Shaheed Sheikh Russel Park in the Pahartali area of the city.
The Bangladesh CMSME trade fair is being held for the second time with an aim to assist and encourage women entrepreneurs in the SME sector in marketing their products. The first edition of the fair was held on a limited scale at Hotel Agrabad in the port city last year.
The Export Promotion Bureau, the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, SME Foundation and Jute Diversification Promotion Centre established by the Ministry of Industries are providing overall support for organising the fair.
Necessary arrangements, including police camp, CCTV cameras and private security guards, have been made to ensure the security of the fair. Electric sub-stations and round-the-clock high capacity generators have been installed for ensuring uninterrupted power connection.
Along with the provision for an attractive amusement park for children's entertainment at the fair, there are also arrangements for providing free tickets to schoolchildren in the city.