Around 15,000 women currently engaged in the hair processing job earn around Tk1,500/2, 000 each per month through this work
Processing and selling fallen women’s hair has become a booming business in Sherpur, lifting around 15,000 women in fifteen villages in the district’s Sadar upazila out of poverty.
Apart from women, the unemployed men as well as students belonging to impoverished families are making a good profit through this trade, and many of them have already gained financial independence.
This venture in the upazila is the brainchild of Kalu Miah, a resident of Teghuria village in Sherpur Sadar upazila. He used to work at a wig company in Dhaka.
In 2007, Kalu Miah returned to the village and devised a plan to collect fallen hair from women in his village, process it, and then sell it directly to the Chinese buyer of the wig company in Dhaka.
He started the initiative in his village along with a handful of unemployed youth. As this venture gained momentum, many others including women began joining the business.
In the last 10 years, women and men of many other villages including Bada Teghuria, Choitankhola, Gangpar, Taragor, Baluakanda, Bhatiapara, Palashia, Dhola, Panjorbhanga, and Girdapara have joined the fallen hair processing job in the upazila.
Young and unemployed men collect hair from women by visiting door-to-door in the early hours of the day, and trade various commodities and toys in return.
Kalu Miah and other traders then buy the collected fallen hair for Tk3000/4,000 per kg. The hair is then sorted by the workers depending on its quality.
The workforce mostly comprises unemployed men and women, widowers, senior citizens, and students. They earn around Tk1, 500/2, 000 per month through this work.
After sorting, the collected hair is then evaluated for quality and processed for sale.
The hair is then sold directly to the Chinese buyer in Dhaka for around Tk8,000-Tk9,000 per kg. Long hair has high demand, and it can be sold for up to Tk18,000-Tk20,000 per kg.
“As we have limited cash, we are compelled to sell the processed hair at comparatively lower prices to the buyers. We can expand our business if the government provides us loans,” said Kalu Miah.
During a recent visit in Teghuria village, this correspondent saw a number of women processing fallen hair eagerly.
An elderly Khuki Bewya said: “I process fallen hair and earn money. So I do not need to depend on my sons and daughters for my medicine at this elderly age.”
A group of women- Somla, Rita, Ripa, Iti and Josna- said they were helping their husbands with the money they got from the hair processing business.
“I help my father with fallen hair processing during my vacation. It helps to afford my expenses of education,” said 11th grader Umme Tamanna.
Regarding the business, Tamanna Mohol, deputy manager of Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), Sherpur, said: “I have heard that many women of these villages are becoming financially independent with fallen hair processing jobs. If anyone comes to us for assistance or loan, we will help them.”
Meanwhile, Sherpur Deputy Commissioner Anar Koli Mahbub, said: “I have heard of the matter, but did not see it yet. I will visit the villages where women are engaged in hair processing jobs and will take necessary steps if they need any technical support.”