Physiotherapist Arpita Barua left medical practice around two years ago to raise her son. The decision was a blessing in disguise as she emerged as a successful entrepreneur. She now makes pickles and pithas, and sells those through her facebook page "Itsy Bitsy".
Arpita said though she has been selling the items for the past five years, she left the day job two years ago for the business.
The doctor-turned businessperson now gets food orders for 1,200 persons per month, and she makes dishes for her customers in the same way she cooks for her family.
Apart from foods, Arpita sells handmade jewellery and clothes through her another facebook page "Risha". She said she prioritises products featuring traditional art.
"Involving other women, I want to build a food factory," Arpita told The Business Standard about her future business plan.
Like Arpita, more and more women have become self-reliant by making and selling foods, jewellery and craftworks featuring traditional art.
The self-made women entrepreneurs said they would launch Deshoz Crafts – a platform for more than local 500 entrepreneurs – soon to showcase their products before everyone.
Members of the platform together now have a Tk2.50 crore business. The most important thing about the platform is that everyone here is working with local products.
The entrepreneurs are presenting themselves online through various handicrafts such as shikas (embroidered bags made of jute strings featuring folk art motifs), bags, ornaments, cakes, pickles, pottery, various textile crafts, punjabi and sari.
"I used to work at a school," online-based fashion brand Artistics owner Kamrun Nahar told TBS.
"In June last year, amid the pandemic-led shutdown, I got a call from the school that we will no longer get salaries from next month. Then I started painting."
Kamrun Nahar began the business with a capital of Tk4,000 only. She sold clothes worth Tk60,000 in the last three to four months and still has products worth around Tk40,000.
"Although my initiative is new, I am getting a huge response from everyone," she added.
With the dream to become entrepreneurs, three sisters – Latifa Begum, Umme Nahar and Salma Ferdousi – quit their jobs and started selling shika on online platforms. Although they began in January, the start-up is getting a good response.
The trio said they learnt weaving shikas from their grandfather as a child, and now they have refreshed the skill to earn money. In less than two months of the business, the sisters said they sold out around 50 shikas at Tk300-2,000 per piece.
Meantime, Rajbi Tasnim, owner of online fashion brand Kadambari, said she started her business a year and a half ago.
"I used to give saris to my friends after colouring them. I just turned the hobby into limited-scale commercial production," said Tasnim, who now employs 70 women.
She said all the saris made by her were sold out last Eid.
Like Tasnim, self-made entrepreneur Selina is working on fabrics focusing on traditional designs. After doing the chores and taking care of her child, Selina embroiders traditional designs on khadi and muslin fabrics.
After graduating from Khulna University, Hosna Emdad gained popularity as a successful entrepreneur with her skills in making local jewellery. Though she has been making the armaments for around nine years, she started the commercial career only two years ago.
"After completing university, everyone tends to pursue a job. But I opted for a different path," Hosna told TBS.
Apart from clothes or jewellery, some women entrepreneurs swiped right to exceptional artworks. Da Ching Ching is one of them who works with exceptional rickshaw paints.
She paints rickshaw-artwork on bottles, water pots, bags, pen holders and key rings.
While many women lost their jobs during the pandemic, some have emerged as self-made entrepreneurs after quitting the day jobs voluntarily.
Tahmina Tania, the moderator of Deshoz Crafts, told TBS, "We are positive to establish the idea that success is possible not only in jobs but also in artworks featuring the tradition."
Nishat Mashfika, the owner of Deshoz Crafts, said they had been trying for a long time to create a platform for women entrepreneurs who work with local products.
"We are training the entrepreneurs and encouraging others to involve more in e-commerce, highlighting local tradition," she added.