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Dhaka Tribune

A stairway to success built on will, determination and hard work

Update : 09 Feb 2014, 06:24 PM

Born to a poor family in Khulna, Sonali Akhter has struggled at different stages of her life and witnessed poverty from childhood. Eldest among four brothers and sisters, she only had privilege to study till class X due to financial constraints.

But under the government’s “Joyeeta Onneshone Bangladesh” programme coordinated by the Women Affairs Department of Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, Shonali’s future has changed for the better. She received the “Joyeeta Woman” award on Friday along with a prize money of Tk10,000 in a ceremony organised by the ministry’s department at Coronation Secondary School field in Khulna.

Launching her initiative with a loan of only Tk20,000, Sonali is now an institution and role model of success to others. Around 1,200 women are now working in her organisation, but it was never easy for Shonali to reach the top.

As she came from a very poor family, her father Rafiuddin married her off at an early age.           

However, her husband was not financially well-off, so she decided to work for a living. At first, she took money from her husband to make sarees and sell them to local shops but her initiative was unsuccessful.         

Later, she took a loan of Tk20,000 from the upazila Bangladesh Rural Development Board and established Sonali Handicrafts in 2004 along with five other destitute women workers.

She started to sell sarees again and established her workplace at a local bazar. As the demands for her products increased, more capital was needed, so she sold her ornaments and invested money in the business which rapidly expanded within a few years.

At present, 22 staff are working on a monthly salary basis and 1,200 women on a daily wage basis in her organisation. The beautifully made sarees has earned a good reputation within the locality and are also being sent to different parts of the country, including Dhaka, for sale.      

Being inspired by the success of Sonali, many other local women have also taken such initiatives in order to become self-reliant.  

The “Joyeeta Onneshone Bangladesh” programme is aimed at awarding five women from seven divisions in five categories. The five categories are: successful mothers, education and service, overcoming repression, role in social development and becoming economically self-reliant. 

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