Discount offers draw crowd

Entrepreneurs at the ongoing SME fair-2019, the country's biggest small and medium enterprise (SME) fair, are experiencing brisk business thanks to increasing sales as buyers continue to cut product prices and offer lucrative discounts to visitors thronging their stalls.

The exhibitors filled their stalls with products of various designs and colours to attract people. The fair, held at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) and organised by the SME Foundation, will end on March 22.

The array of products included bags, purses, folders, table mats, prayer mats, doormats, rugs and room dividers, among others.

In total, 310 SME entrepreneurs are participating in the fair, exhibiting locally made jute products, food and agro-processing products, leather goods, electrical and electronics products, light engineering products, IT products, plastic and other synthetic goods, handicrafts, and design and fashion wear products.

‘Samo Leathers’ started its journey in 2016. Saiful Islam Momin, founder of the company, told The Independent: “I started my business with only Tk 25,000. After struggling for two years, I now have a small factory of leather products.”

He said Samo Leathers produces wallets, belts, ladies bags, office bags, file covers, jackets, backpacks, file covers, card holders, key rings and many other types of leather goods.

“We have brought 15–20 items in this fair. A ladies' purse costs Tk 1,500-3,500, followed by a belt for Tk 300-Tk 900 each, while a biker bag costs Tk 1,500-2,500, backpack Tk 3,000-Tk 4,500, and messenger bag Tk 1,800-2,500,” he also said.

“We export products to four countries—China, Japan, Italy and Spain,” he added.

Outlining the challenges before young entrepreneurs, Momin explained that capital has remained the main problem when it comes to business expansion.

Expressing the future plan for his company, Momin said: “I want my factory to be fully compliant within three years where 100–150 people will get employment.”

“We have participated in this fair for the first time and the response was tremendous,” he added.

Jermatz Limited has been meeting the local demand for jute products since 2015. Its managing director, Ismat Jerin Khan, said they have come up with around 30 diversified jute products like runners, wine bags, round floor mats, oval mats, fruit baskets, square baskets, dinner mats, table mats, hand bags, and ladies purses at the fair.

"Baskets and floor mats are selling the most at the fair. Their prices range between Tk 80 and Tk 1,000," she added.

Khan also said discounts are being offered on different jute products. However, they would be made available only to those buyers who are willing to place an order.

Jute baskets are available within the price range of Tk 500 and Tk 1,500.

“We have already talked to buyers from the Maldives and Turkey. We have received positive response from both,” she said.

“We already export jute products to countries like Germany and Austria,” she added.

Describing some challenges, Khan pointed out that jute yarn is spun and prepared for use in weaving, knitting, and manufacturing sewing threads. “This raw material is not adequately available in our country,” she said.

“We don’t have adequate design labs for producing innovative colours for jute products to suit the buyer’s demands,” she added.

“It's not easy for women entrepreneurs to get loans from banks. We don’t have adequate design labs for producing innovative SME products like jute, leather, and handicrafts,” she said.

Since its inception in 2007, the SME Foundation has been working with the SME Division of Bangladesh Bank, the industries ministry, and the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) to promote SMEs. Its target is to alleviate poverty and generate employment to accelerate economic growth.

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