Entrepreneurship: Empowerment and Development Still -far off Mark
Khan, A N M Shibly Noman
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“Khalifer Haat, a place 72 kilometers from the district town, has much potential with the Hogla (reed) industry, if properly patronized. Most of the people among the 30,000 inhabitants of the area in some way connected with the cottage industry as rheir ancestral occupation as the. unique species of reed is found in plenty here. At least 3,000 men were engaged in Hogla cultivation. Farmers said they did not have to toil much to cultivate Hogla; if they sowed the roots in the rainy season, the land would become huge bushes of Hogla to be reaped by the month of July. Moreover they could make tasty foods tike Vapa Pitha (a kind of steamed rice cake) with the powder made from the bottom of Hogla flowers collected during July. This Hogla powder sells at Tk 25 per Kilogram. Khalifer Haat is the major market of different products made of Hogla reeds. The wholesalers export Hogla products to Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet, Rangpur and other parts of the country from here. Some allege that the products are being smuggled to India, mainly by the Indian Khasia Adivasi women. At least 10000 women were engaged in the Hogla cottage industy. Various products could be made with Hogla reeds but the artisans made only Chatais (local mat), hand fans and brooms due to a lack of proper training. Amena Begum (50) a Hogla crafts woman, said they could make upgrade and luxury products if they were properly trained and provided with a market facility. Many NGOs are working in this region for long time but they overlook the artisans need After more than three decades of national independence, the majority of women in Bangladesh is still facing tremendous gender barriers and entrapped by I impoverishment. In recent years when micro-credit has been increasingly under criticism for not reaching the poorest of the poor, more questions have been raised as to whether micro-credit alone would suffice as an effective strategy for assisting women entrepreneurs to achieve business successes without the necessary physical capital and social capital, especially in terms of a growing, extensive personal and social network with long-term trusting and reliable relationships (The Daily Star July 21, 2005).