On women’s day Textile Today reached out to leading female entrepreneurs of the Bangladesh textile and apparel industry for their thoughts and visions.
Here are some of the key parts of the discussion for Textile Today readers.
Textile Today: Why did you choose your career as a fashion designer? How do you see the prospects of the career & the industry? What is your secret sauce behind success as a promising entrepreneur as well as a fashion designer?
Nasrin Jahan Moon, Director, Robintex Group, Fashion Designer & Founder, MOON’S Boutique: Fashion designing was the passion that drives me toward developing my career on it. For my deep fascination for it, I decided to study on this and obtained a professional degree and certificate to uphold my career.
Over time, I have imparted the necessary skills and experiences of fashion designing that motivated me to work in the design and development section of the RMG sector where I have been working for 12 years. While working in this field, I have successfully sourced for printing orders and helped the company incorporate mastering technology of Digital printing, Over Printing and Embroidery.
And nowadays, our company has been able to attract worldwide brands for its exceptional displays of printing and embroidery designs.
As Bangladesh supplies one-third of the requirements of the total garment of the RMG market of the world, fashion designing is believed to be highly potential for sustaining this high progress in this sector.
New product development and offers to brands are now greatly being appreciated by worldwide apparel selling brands. Therefore, garment manufacturing companies need young talents for trendy product design and development in this RMG sector. Indeed, fashion designer as a profession has recently emerged as one of the most thriving careers among career pursuant.
Moreover, I have a craving to introduce unique designs on our legendary fabric of muslin. With a vision to represent our muslin internationally, I am trying hard to work with vigor and courage. I want to utilize my merits in giving a new approach to the clothing world where a blend of modern trends and tradition will be reflected.
In lifting my business of boutique, I was greatly benefited by the adroit supervision and encouragement of my husband, Mr. Sakhawat Abu Khair Mohammed who is a successful industrialist in the textile and garments sector in Bangladesh.
I consider his professional guidance as my opportunity cum blessing to implant my design ideas and improve my capabilities of making difference. To remain up-to-date on the contemporary trends in the fashion world, my frequent attending and arranging the exhibitions home and abroad and participating in workshops helped me a lot to explore the fashion insights and plant developed ideas into reality.
Apart from that my business of boutique has greatly helped me acquire good knowledge on clothing, fabrics, fashion events, managing a fashion house.
Textile Today: Why did you choose your career in the T&A industry? What is your secret sauce behind this success which can encourage others to be an entrepreneur?
Rehnuma Chowdhury, Managing Director, Fifth Alliance Global Trading Ltd.: First of all, I would like to thank Textile Today to privilege me to convey my message. On this WOMEN’S DAY, I remember all women in the world and pay special tribute to our honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on this great occasion.
In Bangladesh, women & careers in the T&A industry are very much related to each other. Overall women’s participation in the labor force has been increased around 37 percent. Moreover, if we count the percentage of other sectors it would be above the aforesaid height. The T&A industry attracted me in manyfold to build my career here.
As an Entrepreneur, I was not born successful. Like other ventures, my business also witnessed critical ups & downs. I always set both short-term and long-term targets to achieve my goal. Efforts and failures made me strong where I am today. As female entrepreneurs, we had to maintain a balance between family & business. It’s a little difficult yet possible and I have paced with these two things together. As a result, I got endorsed by my family & my co-workers too as both are my family. On the other hand, my few secrets which I would like to express- my sincerity, diversified thinking, fashion forecasting and long-term vision. Never giving-up attitude was one of my vital turning points which worked well for my Venture. I think no woman should ever concentrate on any evil statement made by our so-called society which could make them weak.
I believe in humbleness & honesty, which is needed to be a successful entrepreneur. These are the two qualities that came from my parents as a legacy.
I am always thankful to my mother and wishing her & all women in the world in this 2021 WOMEN’s DAY. Happy women’s day to all of you. Have a great day & year blessed by God.
Textile Today: As a whole, more than 80% of women are working for the Bangladesh textile & apparel industry compared to men. But at the top/decision-making level the presence of women is still very less. How do you see that and how more women can come upon such top/decision-making positions?
Aleya Aktar, General Manager (HR & Admin), Apex Fashion Wear Ltd.
Yes, this is a very tragic situation in the Bangladesh RMG industry that more than 80% of operative women are administered or supervised by >95% Men. And at the top level, % of women is >1/2%. Though I have reached the top position of the Organization’s Business Administration and HR, I am not happy with this algorithm at all.
I intensely expect that we will see more women at the decision-making level in nearly the upcoming days. As per my view, the following facts can increase the number of woman in top/decision making positions: –
- Owners need to feel the necessity & importance of female leadership and encourage them to take the challenge as my present honorable Board of Directors of Apex Holdings.
- “Only males are allowed to Apply” this sentence must be erased from the circulars of management-level recruitment.
- Women professionals also need to be developed in their leadership skills. They must pause the tendency of being in as usual “Safe Zone” rather than enjoying more challenges. They need to be more proactive, strong & courageous.
- Any abuse or harassment issue must be treated as “Zero Tolerance” by the organization.
- Career Progression Planning & Performance Appraisal System of any organization must be fair & free from gender discrimination.
Textile Today: How you have come into this business? What is your secret behind this success which can encourage the others to be an entrepreneur? Bangladesh textile industry is contributing more than 84% to the national economy and mainly women are working in the factories. What kind of extra facilities can give ease to the women employees and workers in their working life?
Fahima Akhter, Director, Masco Group: I started my career in a multinational bank in the year 1999. Even though my father was running this business successfully, he wanted me to know more about the corporate world and the banking know-how’s which would help me gain some knowledge that can be utilized later. I got married in 2002 and had my child in 2006.
I finished my MBA from North South University in 2002. I got involved in our family business in 2009. I’m currently overseeing the accounts and finance of the group.
I have been very fortunate to be working with a team that are willing to learn and share their knowledge to make our teamwork have a synergistic effect.
The specialty of our company is we give freedom to our colleagues to come up with their ideas and work independently, that’s why, we, the members of the Masco family, give their best for the betterment of the company and take ownership in our respective departments.
Sustainability is the key that drives us towards doing better. There’s no sure-shot formula to success, but there are some core values that need to be nurtured to make an organization successful. Honesty, ethical business practices, being environmentally conscious, keeping the welfare of the workforce as a priority are some of them.
Bangladesh is one of the fastest-growing economies in South Asia. The garment sector has been through a drastic change in the past few decades and everyone is working towards bringing efficiency in their operations, including the introduction of automation and utilization of manpower to the maximum.
Our team has been very responsive to introducing new technologies to outperform ourselves. Welcoming change is very important to survive in this fast-paced world.
Bangladesh’s ready-made garment (RMG) sector is an important driver of economic growth. From an industry that generated a few million dollars in export earnings in the 1970s, it is now an industry of US$ 30 billion that accounts for 83 percent of the country’s total export revenue.
Its growth has created significant employment opportunities, employing an estimated 4 million workers – a substantial proportion of Bangladesh’s total labor force of 69 million. The sector’s expansion has specifically contributed to a rise in women’s employment.
Kind of extra facilities which can give ease to the women employees and workers in their working life
a) Sufficient Childcare Facility:
Though most of the garments industries have their in-house Childcare Facility the facility is insufficient in most cases. Only a few of their female workers can keep their children in the Childcare Center.
Such initiatives of access to sufficient child care facilities not only help to enhance the quality of life for the female and male employees but also help enhance the net productivity of a workforce and ensure that it is a happier one. Without having to worry about the well-being of a child who is left at home with a grandmother or other relatives, new parents can be a lot more at ease.
b) Taking Time off between work:
Taking time off in between work helps in dealing with stress. The human body is not designed to endure long hours of work at a go. Physical movements like a light walk or some light can be helpful here.
Such short breaks will help especially women workers to remove fatigue and enhance the agility at work.
c) Flexible work schedule:
Maintaining a good balance between work and life isn’t possible if there’s no personal time left after leaving work. In such a case, having a flexible work schedule becomes very important. Flexibility in work timings helps the employees lay equal focus on their own personal and social side of life like that of their work. Weekly day off should be given high priority which can positively affect an individual’s performance at work.
d) Offer health cash plans:
Provide health cash plans providing reassurance to employees knowing that they have insurance if they or their family become unwell. It also encourages a more pro-active approach to health check-ups and inoculations leading to fewer staff absences.