Calling All Student Entrepreneurs: Tell Us About Your Startup

A Tale Of Two Makers

|
Dec 31, 2014
Open Collaboration

Recently I visited Naogaon to interview two of 20 entrepreneurs selected for OPEN accelerator program. The purpose was to learn and document their journey as entrepreneurs in a hope that this will inspire more people to take initiative and also to shed some light on these under-served makers who are doing extraordinary acts of changing.

The arrangement worked quiet smoothly. When I reached at Naogaon in the morning it was almost dark. I waited at bus station for an hour reading books in my semi-smart phone. Then I went to a local restaurant and ate kichuri and chicken. It tasted good. I strolled around for another hour since it was still morning and not a suitable time to call and wake people up who work late in night.

At 9:00 I called Taslima Ferdouse of Adday Coffee, one of two entrepreneurs I went to meet. She was still having a holiday morning and I could understand she did not expect me that early. But we managed to fix a meeting in following hour at her beautiful café rightly named Adday Coffee.

Naogaon is one of the northern districts of Bangladesh with 23, 85,900 population living in an area of 3436 square kilometer. The town seemed organized and decent.

When I met Taslima at her Coffee house it was around 9:30. Her Coffee house was closed for first half of the day since it was a Friday. As we start talking she said, during holiday she normally start working from 3:00 pm. I got a special treat! While we’re having our introductory chitchat she made me a vegetable roll, crisp, delicious and unlike any roll I previously had, and a coffee. A perfect start for a long form interview.

Taslima has a wonderful story. In fact, rare one. She was born in Naogaon before 71. It was an entirely opposite social setting for a woman to work. She got married when she was at class ten and her husband’s family never wanted her to study any further. But Taslima wanted nothing but to study. She worked hard and managed to continue her study. That was her first entrepreneurial experience and it was a success!

She got married when she was at class ten and her husband’s family never wanted her to study any further. But Taslima wanted nothing but to study. She worked hard and managed to continue her study. That was her first entrepreneurial experience and it was a success!

Later on Taslima started a number of side projects and ventures while living with her husband in different parts of the country. She started a school for kids, that later became a formal school, during her time at Sarda Police Academy with her husband, she started a boutique business as well during that time, she founded a training and boutique business in Rajshahi when her husband transferred to Rajshahi. Finally she moved to Dhaka to ensure better education for her two children.

These were just disconnected dots until she finally came back to Naogaon years back. After getting back to Naogaon, Taslima founded a free old home for helpless old people. This is a cause Taslima feels too involved with. As she puts: “what life means if we can’t give something to people who are in need. The beauty of life lies in our ability to contribute, love and give. I feel a divine pleasure in serving people and sharing what I have with others.”

What life means if we can’t give something to people who are in need. The beauty of life lies in our ability to contribute, love and give. I feel a divine pleasure in serving people and sharing what I have with others.

Beauty of Taslima’s story is not her ability to take initiatives rather how artfully she thought out plans to make those initiatives sustainable. To fund her old home she started a Coffee House. Taslima, an avid food lover, runs her Coffee house with contagious passion. I could see how passionate she is about her work. She understands what works and what does not and she loves her work. Interestingly, she cooks, experiment and come up with new dishes and recipes, she serves customers, she works as a relationship manager for her coffee house and she trains her employees.

We are here to make things happen, to do well, to serve and to bring changes that matter. What is life for, if it is not for something bigger than life itself?

Taslima’s story tells a lot about our capacity when we are willing and courageous and passionate and oriented to others and what makes life worth living.

Beauty of Taslima’s story is not her ability to take initiatives rather how artfully she thought out plans to make those initiatives sustainable

Aprokashi png

It was almost 1:00 pm when I called S.M. Jewel of APROKASHI. I just finished my interview with Taslima and was still sitting at her Coffee House. Jewel came in few minutes later to pick me up. Together we went to his farm.

S.M. Jewel started his hands in business when he was a student of class eight. It was at his family business. Since then he has a gifted ability to find ideas and make it happen. He could see things and he could make things better. However, he wanted to do something big all the time. Growing up Jewel thought running family business is wonderful but doing and building own business is even better. That’s the starting point of his journey.

Aprakashi Image by OPEN
Aprakashi
Image by OPEN

Today his venture APROKASHI-a combined agriculture firming-has foot in more than 19 districts of the country. Jewel envisions one day we all will be using and eating everything organic-a Bangladesh free of poisons and chemicals and pesticides. He believes we can produce almost everything organically which is healthy and ecologically sustainable as well.

APROKASHI does a lot of thing. It produces organic fertilizers. It has a soil testing lab that tests soil and suggest appropriate fertilizers and other requirements for soil. It has nursery with hundreds of different types of trees, flowers and more from all over the world. It has also animal firms and bird house. Oprakashi provides training on farming, producing organic fertilizers and more.

Today his venture APROKASHI-a combined agriculture firming-has foot in more than 19 districts of the country. Jewel envisions one day we all will be using and eating everything organic-a Bangladesh free of poisons and chemicals and pesticides. He believes we can produce almost everything organically which is healthy and ecologically sustainable as well.

As a place, APROKASHI is a wonderful leisure center to go. Jewel also created a lake, a wooden bridge and a coffee house inside the farm. With thousands of different types of trees and flowers and birds it has also become a common place for tourists and villagers to go and spend some quality time. Once you go inside it will amaze you: the brilliant view, the nature at its best, the chattering of birds, the flowers and a serene environment to enjoy yourself and your loved ones. For students and kids with an interest to know more about nature and trees and birds, this is a place of education and perfect entertainment.

It also shows how to best utilize a small place and use it for multiple purposes. Jewel said: “Bangladesh is a small country with a huge population, we must know how to best utilize our lands. At APROKASHI we have tried to show how one can use a certain part of land for multiple purposes which may contribute to solving low per capital land problem.”

APROKASHI employees around 200 people in its firms and also created small group of organic fertilizer producers in adjacent villages creating working opportunities for women and men alike.

Months back I wrote: "The best part about these entrepreneurs is that they are authentic, humble and spirited. They are all about work where many people I meet in events in Dhaka are all about talk and no substance. They don’t overdo, don’t take unnecessary pride in what they do but they love their work and want to do more of it. Most importantly, these people understand what they do and they do it with authentic passion which is very rare in many people where I live." After coming back from Naogaon I can reassure my assumption now. These people do work and these people do change and this makes me hopeful.

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#25618a" radius="13"]Note: We have two long form interviews coming out soon of these two OPEN entrepreneurs, Taslima Ferdous and S.M Jewel. Please stay with us. These stories will change how you look at society and build a business that matter.[/su_note]

Register to read this article in full and more insight articles!

By registering, you will be signed-up for an account which gives you access to our premium stories published a few times a week and archives of all our premium stories. You will also receive a daily newsletter sent to your inbox. To unsubscribe, please visit the profile section in your account. We have a strong privacy policy. We will never share or sell your data to anyone.

What you get
In-depth actionable analysis

In-depth analysis on startup, business and technology scene in Bangladesh that you would not find anywhere else.
Daily and weekly newsletter
Get our daily and weekly newsletter with our most important stories directly to your inbox.
Join the conversion on this article and more on our public Telegram Group
Ruhul Kader is a technology and business analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Future Startup and author of Rethinking Failure: A short guide to living an entrepreneurial life. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, technology policy, and society. He can be reached at ruhul@futurestartup.com

In-depth business & tech coverage from Dhaka

Stories exclusively available at FS

2 comments on “A Tale Of Two Makers”

  1. It is really a very inspiring story. I am from Naogaon. and I fell very proud both of Taslima and S.M. Jewel. This is really true ---" They don’t overdo, don’t take unnecessary pride in what they do but they love their work and want to do more of it. Most importantly, these people understand what they do and they do it with authentic passion which is very rare in many people where I live". and thanks a lot Jerry Nicholson for finding out the real rural entrepreneurs who have a great contribution in our country.

  2. Hello
    I wanted to find out if the two cases mentioned have a facebook or website to connect with. I would like to learn more about Adday Coffee and especially Aprokashi.

    Naz

About FS

Contact Us

Shares