Some of the business owners are sharing their shop space with other businesses to reduce shop rent and keep their business afloat
More than 500 small business owners in Nilkhet have been facing financial losses since the closure of educational institutions in March to curb the transmission of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Students as well as professionals usually rush to Nilkhet in Dhaka for printing, photocopying, and binding assignments, notes and other papers owing to the cheap rates of the items as well as convenience.
However, with universities being closed for over seven months, the small business owners in Nilkhet are searching for other options to cope with their economic burdens.
They are struggling to meet basic demands like food and house rent with their limited earnings amid the pandemic.
The situation is so severe that a photocopy and book binding shop owner named Md Selim earned a total of only Tk150 on Saturday.
He told Dhaka Tribune: “I have to pay shop rent of Tk8,000 per month. Ever since the lockdown was imposed, I have been struggling to pay the shop rent. Moreover, I also have a family who solely depend on my income.”
“The government has opened up all the institutions as well as public transport. So why not reopen the educational institutions as well? At least universities can open as no children study there,” Selim said.
Another business owner, Saiful Islam, 45, said: “We are mainly dependent on the students of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), University of Dhaka, Eden Mohila College and Dhaka College. As there are no academic classes or examinations, there is very low demand for printing, photocopying and binding.”
“World University, University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) and Stamford University students are also a big segment of our customers as they are nearest to us, along with other private universities and colleges.” he added.
Some of the business owners are sharing their shop space with other businesses to reduce the shop rent and keep their businesses afloat.
Billal Hossain, who recently advertised his intention to share his small shop, said: “We still get some customers who are not students. They come here to prepare papers for jobs or to go abroad. But that is too small an amount to maintain my family. We struggle to meet our bare necessities.”
“I want to share my small shop to reduce the burden of the rent. I had to take out loans to pay shop rent several times,” he added.
A stationery shop owner in Nilkhet, Md Mahbub, said: “Customer numbers have decline to one-third of what they used to be. I own the shop but I am also struggling to meet the necessities of my family.”