Farhana Afroz Alam Jennyfar is now an entrepreneur. But her story of becoming an entrepreneur goes back to 2016, when she founded Apon Ghor, which provides training on block, cottage industries and handicrafts.
In the beginning, only five women took the training. But, over four years, 75 women of different ages – including middle class college students – have got involved in this initiative, making jute bags, showpieces, clothes, wooden ornaments, paintings and other products at home.
Jennyfar collects the women's products and sells them online and at her own showroom. She has become self-reliant in this way, paving the way for 75 women to earn money from home.
She took part in a five-day fair from 10 February at Hotel Agrabad organised by the Chattogram Women's Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Her company has caught the attention of buyers with its home-grown products. There have been a lot of sales. She also won the second prize at the closing ceremony held on 14 February.
Jennyfar told The Business Standard, "In 2005, I received block and handicraft training from a non-governmental organisation. After that, I started making dresses for family members. I once thought I could build an organisation for women's self-employment. With that in mind, my organisation started its journey at Rampura of the port city in 2016 with Tk50,000 capital. At present, 75 women from Rampura, South Kattli and the surrounding areas work with me."
She said, "I collect raw materials and deliver them to women. We collect their products and sell them online and offline. I hope the number of women involved in this initiative will exceed 100 this year."
The women, who received training under the Apan Ghar Women Development and Self-Employment Project, said they received six months of training free of cost from the institute. Using their spare time, they have brought prosperity to their families by making jute products and local clothes.
Afsana Akhter, a first year student of Mostafa Hakim College in Chattogram, said, "I have been associated with this institution for the last four years. I bear the cost of my education with the income earned from making handicraft products. I spend that money on my family, too."
Afsana said many more teenagers, including my classmates Baby, Tumpa and Farzana, are involved in study as well as handicraft work.
Rebecca Nasrin, director of the Chittagong Women's Chamber of Commerce and Industries and chairperson of the fair, said, "Apon Ghor's initiative with jute products is commendable. At present, when there is an abundance of plastic products, the company is promoting domestic products by making jute bags."
"At least 75 women have been involved in this initiative to bring prosperity to their families. This entrepreneur has the opportunity to sell products on the domestic and international markets, if she gets proper assistance," she continued.
Afroz Alam Jennyfar, director of Apan Ghar Women's Development and Self-Employment Project, said, "My initiative is to make women self-reliant, not for commercial purposes. I strongly believe that our organisation will expand further if we get the cooperation of the people concerned, get the registration from the Department of Social Services or a loan from the bank, or a market is created."