Beneficiary: Rabeya Khatoon
[Microfinance program] A successful entrepreneur
"I never ever had dreamt of having an award like this one"- thus spoke Rabeya Khatoon of village Uttargaon of Kaliganj Upazila in Gazipur with the 'Best Small Entrepreneur of the year Award' in her hand and vented her feelings of gratitude. Rabeya was, of course, not supposed to think of winning an award. But it was like a dream come true. There was a time when Rabeya could not have two square meals a day; but now she has 25 employees working under her. As a role model of how to fight out poverty Rabeya Khatoon today won the 'Best Small Entrepreneur of the year Award 2005'
The year 2005 has been declared as the micro-credit year. On this occasion the CITI Group Foundation, a human welfare- oriented organization of the apex financial institution of the world the CITI group and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) jointly organized a function to distribute the world small entrepreneurs awards for out standing services in this field.
The awards were given in four sectors like Best Micro- Finance Institution of the Year, Most Innovative Business of the Year, Best Woman Micro Entrepreneur of the Year and the Best Micro Entrepreneur of the Year, On November 21, 2005 Finance and Planning Minister M. Saifur Rahman gave away the 'Best Small Entrepreneur of the Year Award to Rabeya Khatoon among other prize winners at a function held at Hotel Sheraton participated by an elite group of people. It may be recalled that Rabeya Khatoon is a recipient of the micro-credit from the Padakhep.
The story of the struggle for existence this brave lady of Gazipur waged, as though, supersedes even imagination. But the dame luck did not pat Rabeya on the back for this prosperity she achieved it by virtue of hard work, keen foresight and creative faculty she could rise from the rags to change her lot. Besides, the Padakhep, a non governmental organization came to the aid of Rabeya extending her loan that acted as a tremendous fillip to her relentless endeavor.
Rabeya hails from a remote sleeping hamlet of Uttargaon of Kaliganj Upazila in Gazipur district. Poor, illiterate and a housewife Rabeya with her four daughters tried somehow to keep body and soul together with the very scanty income of her husbands. Her husband is an indigent weaver. The income from the weaving business was too meager to meet the expenditure of the family and not enough to keep the wolf from the door. Smitten by woes, worries, cares and anxiety for food, clothing and the bleak future of her kids Rabeya faced a boundless uncertainty and frantically tried to find a permanent way out of the conundrum.
While she was passing her days in such a distressing condition Rabeya learnt that the regular meeting of the Provati Mohila Samity of the Padakhep Manabik Unnayan Kendra is held on every tuesday at the house of her next door neighbor Rakina. On learning about the Programme of the samity she evinced a keen interest to enlist herself as a member of the society to change her lot. One day while the meeting was on Rabeya came to the venue of the meeting along with another member of the society Jyotsna Begum. When she expressed her desire to become a member, the then field officer in-charge Ripon Devnath collected information about her desire to become a member, source of income of her family, whether she was affiliated or involved with any other organization etc. Subsequently Rabeya was accepted as a number of the society (on4/1) on March 29, 2001. Through the society Rabeya acquired literacy and continued to deposit her savings. After four months elapsed this way Rabeya was granted a loan of taka four thousand on July 8, 2001. According to a plan chalked out earlier, Rabeya bought a wooden loom with the loan money and began to weave towels. Since then her luck began to favor her. Frugal and thrifty in her habit Rabeya kept on defraying the expenditures of her family and repaying the loan installments with the income of her husband and began to save a meager balance she had. After such a struggle for one year the indigent family of six saw a ray of hope at the end of the tunnel. Hopes also sprang in the mind of Rabeya's husband who extended his assistance to help run her business as smoothly was possible then on his part. This he did in the expectation of a swift change in their lot.
After the satisfactory repayment of the first phase loan, Rabeya applied for the second loan and on August11, 2002, she was again granted a loan of taka seven thousand. Rabeya added the balance of Tk. three thousand of the previous year to this new loan amount and with this Tk.10,000, she bought an improved quality machine loom. With proper management of business she could bring solvency in her family. But Rabeya did not stop there. With a view to materializing her strong desire to further expand her business through purchase of a big manually run weaving machine she took a loan of Tk. 25000 (twenty five thousand) under the 'Sristhi Karmasuchi' (creative programme) of Padakhep Micro enterprise on October 29, 2003.
The spouses by dint of hard labour gradually earned financial solvency in the family. Rabeya got her two little daughters admitted into a school and planned to buy a power run weaving machine. Rabeya reposed her total confidence in the Padakhep all through and she expected again the help of the Padakhep to successfully implement her plan. After the repayment of the third tranche of loan, a thorough scrutiny of her business position was done and Padakhep granted her a loan of Tk. 50,000 (Taka Fifty Thousand) again under "Srishti Rin" on September 29, 2004. Thus Rabeya saw her dream come true after a bitter struggle. Rabeya married her two big daughters in solvent families and she is defraying the educational expenses of her two little kids smoothly. Her family is now free from chill penury and poverty she experienced before. Her output has increased manifold due to power run weaving machine. Towels woven in her factory are being marketed in Dhaka and Chittagong. Rabeya created employment opportunity for some people also. 4 salaried employees and 21 workers on daily wage basis are now engaged in her factory.
Rabeya is the shinning example of a bright success. She has amply proved that it is not that difficult to see the light by overcoming the dark hurdles if financial assistance is added to one's industry, honesty and single-minded devotion and dedication to work. Her award has created a wide excitement in the area and inspired people to transcend beyond the fringe of poverty. Rabeya of the remote area by dint of her creativity and hard work had not only established herself, but also enhanced the image of the country across the globe. The Small Entrepreneur Award has inspired her to be enterprising. Her eyes are now glowing with dreams. While receiving the award self-confident and self-reliant Rabeya said "I want to prosper further and create job opportunities for more people". Rabeya cherished a dream that towels woven in her factory will be exported abroad one day and it will earn credit and reputation for the country in future.