Minister Group currently employs more than 10,000 people and hopes to create 20,000 additional jobs by diversifying its business by 2030.
MA Razzak Khan, the Chairman of Minister Group, recently spoke to The Business Standard, who is also the Director of the Bangladesh Chamber of Industries and Senior Vice-President of the Bangladesh Television Manufacturers Association.
Can you give us an overview of the current electric and electronics product market in Bangladesh? And as a Bangladeshi company, how is the Minister performing?
Bangladesh's electric and electronic market is heading toward its peak from humble beginnings. Even in the last few years, people were not that much interested in using electronic products. But now, people cannot imagine a day without it.
In the past, people faced several problems related to cooking food but much has changed because of the use of kitchen home appliances. One example is the use of rice cookers.
Not only has life become easier, but the prices of consumer goods like electronics, home appliances, etc have also become much more affordable than before. This has been made possible because of the supportive policies of the government and the local production of products by the entrepreneurs.
The market for electric and electronic products is now around Tk35,000 crores; growth is more than 10%.
Twenty years ago, the Minister started its journey with five members and now the company employs more than 10,000 people. We hold 7-8% of the country's electronics market. Our goal was to build the confidence of the people of the country as a brand of love and establish it in the hearts of the country's common people.
What are the current products of Minister Group?
We started with black and white televisions, but now Minister's production line includes refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, LED TVs, smart LED TVs, blenders, grinders, rice cookers, microwave ovens, washing machines, electric kettles, gas burners, induction cooker, frypan, and more than 20 products including iron and voltage stabiliser.
The Minister's electronics products now have energy-saving technology and guarantee more sustainability. The company has also started marketing human care and toiletries products. These include "Safety Plus," "Bright Wash," "One Wash," "Moon," "Hexing," "Care and Care" and "Flash" brand products.
The company has 20 years of experience under its belt. Can you tell us about the company's journey?
Minister started its journey in 2002 with five employees in the electronics market and with black and white TV production. The goal was to develop the company and make it a place of love and belief. We have had to face various obstacles to bring the Minister Group to its present stage. Notable among these are the various policies of the government, aggressive marketing of competitors, etc. Even then, with the help of the present government, our electronics industry has come a long way.
Moreover, in order to take the electronics industry forward in our country, manpower specialised in electronics is required. If the lack of 'technical' people can be overcome, the electronics industry will become more advanced. So it can be said the journey wasn't easy but with the help and love from the people of the country, we have overcome it.
What are your current ongoing projects and what is your future plan?
Going beyond traditional marketing, we are adopting some better approaches. Currently, we are working with an e-commerce platform and conducting live sessions on social media to boost our online presence. Besides that, we inaugurated an online platform 'E-raj' so that customers can buy their appliances more easily without any hassle.
We have plans to bring affordable electric bike manufacturing to the market. We want to produce 35-40 cc equivalent of electric bikes without registration in two to three years if the government gives policy support. We can start mobile production within this year.
We have planned big investments to enter every country's market around the globe by 2030. That is why we plan to invest in the toiletries, food and electric bike manufacturing sector.
Are the current policies of the government sufficient for the development of the electronics sector?
The current policies of the government for the development of the electronics sector are quite helpful. But the proper utilisation/application of that policy should be ensured. Small and medium traders should be included in it, including dealers and traders at the rural levels.
Covid-19 has disrupted the supply chain and production of almost every business entity around the world. How much did you suffer during the pandemic?
The country's economic activities have suffered the most from the pandemic outbreak. The big industrial establishments have also become debt defaulters during that period and we suffered as well. The business ecosystem became quite stressful.
Again, we all know that such products are considered luxurious and people purchase them in lower volumes. As a result, sales of such products had decreased significantly. However, to handle this situation, we had given more importance to home delivery service, online sales and other measures.
How is the Minister Group's research and development department faring?
Our R&D is quite strong now. We have followed the designs and models of Korean, Japanese, and Chinese electronics makers. We have separate R&D for television, fridge and air conditioners. Currently, about 50 engineers are working on our team. This number will increase with product diversification.
Can you tell us about your personal backstory?
I moved to Singapore in 1994 to pursue a degree in engineering. After finishing my studies, I secured a job there. However, I missed my country and my mother. Then I moved to Bangladesh in June 1999.
After returning home, I started to think of doing something. Having studied technology in Singapore, I planned to do something in the technology-based industry. Since there were very few local electronics brands in the country then, I planned to do something here.
In 2000, I founded "My One," a Bangladeshi brand, by manufacturing black and white TV from CKD (Completely Knocked Down). We started our journey with a house in Mohammadpur with a capital of Tk5,00,000. I got a huge response from people. Because we provided a low power consuming TV at only Tk3,999.
After getting a huge response here, we started producing colour TV in 2002. That was our official start as a brand. From that point onward, we moved forward to producing various types of electronic items.