An ordinary woman Chhobi Shikder has gradually emerged as a successful entrepreneur by her firm determination and outstanding efforts.
She also proved that anyone can be successful in life even if they do not have a proper academic background.
Starting her career as a worker in a garment factory, Chhobi Shikder now proudly owns a factory.
In her 19-year career as a garment worker, Chhobi Shikder had worked with Clifton Group, Four H Group, and some other firms.
However, her way to success was not that smooth. Her father Monoronjon Shikder died in 1997 when she was 13.
After her father's demise, she took job at a garment factory of Clifton Group with a monthly payment of Tk1,400.
She wanted to study and accordingly got admitted to Bangladesh Open University in 2004. But she failed to continue her study because of family issues and work pressure.
In 2016, she experienced a leap in her career and got promoted as an executive. This time, she came by a handsome salary of Tk50,000.
Chhobi started to dream of doing something new.
Chhobi finally started her own factory "Sense Fashion" at a rented flat in 2016. She appointed six workers and bought 8 sewing machines with an investment of Tk500,000.
Two years later, she shifted her factory to a 2,000 square feet floor with an increased number of machines and workers.
In the initial stage, she supplied dresses made by garment stock lot fabrics to the local markets. But it was difficult for her to get the return from the local market. Several times, she had to face challenges in financial terms.
Later, she started taking sub-contracts from large factories.
To expand the business, she visited different banks but could not procure a sufficient amount of loan.
But no hurdles could stop Chhobi's march forward. In March 2018, she expanded her factory to a larger floor with a space size of 5,000 square feet. This time the number of sewing machines in her factory increased to 60 and the number of workers rose to 100.
At present, she has 87 machines with 110 female employees. The current amount of investment in the factory is around Tk1 crore. Chhobi has to spend around Tk12 lakh each month to meet all expenditures including employees' salaries, space rent, and other expenses.
Chhobi Shikder's Sense Fashion is located on the second floor of Rabeya Tower at Notun Chaktai Road in Chattogram city.
The factory produces knitwear and oven attires, which are exported to the European and American markets.
Visiting the Sense Fashion, some bags of foreign orders were found at the entrance. Besides, T-shirts, vests were packed and placed on the floor.
Chhobi Shikder was monitoring the activities and also mentoring her staffers about the working process.
When the clock struck 1pm, the workers went for lunch and returned by the next hour to resume their work.
Talking to The Business Standard, Chhobi Shikder narrated her future plan with her business.
She said, "I dream of establishing a green factory in Anwara upazila of Chattogram. Besides, I also dream of working with foreign buyers."
"My husband takes care of the commercial aspects. As we both the husband and the wife are busy with the business, our only child now lives with his paternal grandmother in Koklakta and is studying there," she said adding, "My boy is my future. Someday, he will take the helm of this business."
Asked about the employees, she said that she cares for them as she cares for her own child.
"Because I myself was a worker, I know what their problems are. So, I try to keep them happy. I am happy after clearing all the expenses and don't want to make excessive profit," she added.
Chhobi also plans to arrange for an hour of schooling every day in her factory for the employees because she did not have any formal education.
Regarding the challenges of before garment factories, she said, "This sector needs proper loan facilities. But when we seek loans, banks require mortgage. Moreover, the SME loan amounts are less than our needs. So, long-term loans with flexibilities is a must."
She also stressed an allocation of plots in different economic zones for female entrepreneurs.
In the words of Rina Akter, a worker of Sense Fashon said, "Chhobi didi comes forward to address our needs. She never hesitates to allow leave to us whenever we need it."
Another worker, Rupa Begum said, "We get our wages in due time. Besides, we also get various kinds of organisational supports. We work here like family members."