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2nd-gen entrepreneurs envision tech-based future for apparel industry growth

  • Published at 05:09 pm March 25th, 2021
RMG factory
File photo of workers at a garment factory in Dhaka Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Other second-generation apparel makers have decided to prioritise branding the country and its RMG industry

Of the 70 candidates contesting the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) biennial election this time, 11 are second-generation apparel makers.

Under the leadership of Faruque Hassan, managing director of Giant Group, and ABM Shamsuddin, a former BGMEA vice president, the contestants will take part in the election under the Sammilita Parishad and Forum banners.

Some of them are even sons and daughters of former presidents of the apparel trade body.

Tanvir Ahmed, a director of Envoy Fashion, is the son of former BGMEA president Kutubuddin Ahmed. Shehrin Salam Oishee, director of Envoy Design, is the daughter of former BGMEA president Abdus Salam Murshedy. And Imranur Rahman, managing director of Laila Styles, is the son of Siddiqur Rahman -- the immediate past president of BGMEA.

They are contesting from the Sammilita Parishad.

Tanvir Habib, managing director of Legacy Fashion, and Shovon Islam, managing director of Sparrow Group, are also second-generation apparel makers contesting under the same banner.

From Forum, Navidul Huq, director of MG Knit Flair, is the son of current BGMEA President Rubana Huq and former president Annisul Huq. Shah Rayeed Chowdhury of Evitex Dress Shirt is the son of former BGMEA president Anwar-ul-Alam Chowdhury Parvez. And Vidya Amrit Khan, a director of Desh Garment, is the daughter of M Noorul Quader -- the pioneer of the Bangladeshi RMG industry.

Maashed Rumman Abdullah from Dressmen Garment, Runa Laila Hafiz, managing director of Trouser Line, and Khan Monirul Alam, managing director of Fashion.Com, are also contesting from Forum.

"As a second-generation entrepreneur, I have had access to knowledge gained by my father through his ardent experience over the decades,” said Barrister Shehrin Salam Oishee.

“Besides the rigorous training over the years, I also come with a strong legal background. I am a barrister with a master's from the University of Derby (UK) in Commercial Law,” she added.

Those who built the country and the industry are now retiring and the industry is going through a transition period, said Navidul Huq.

A good number of second-generation entrepreneurs have been working in the industry for over a decade and gained a lot of experience.

“During these years, we worked for ourselves and would now like to utilise those experiences to make Bangladesh the number one sourcing destination,” he said.

“We have faced many troubles, which we overcame by taking lessons from our predecessors. Now, we will work for the sustainability of the clothing industry,” he added.  

Other second-generation apparel makers have decided to prioritise branding the country and its RMG industry.   

“The image crisis is a big challenge right now. But then again, we have the highest number of certified green factories, and our workplace compliance is the best in the world,” said Tanvir Ahmed, director of Envoy Group.

The total number of LEED-certified factories in Bangladesh is 144 -- 41 Platinum, 87 Gold, 14 Silver, and 2 certified. 500 more are awaiting certification.

The cost of doing business is increasing day by day, but the buyers are not adjusting or increasing prices, which is a big challenge for the sector, said Ahmed.

“In reducing the cost of doing business, we have to focus on research and innovation to improve productivity and quality of products. I will focus on the adoption of technology and research-based skills training,” he added.

On top of that, a strong backward linkage, especially in woven and accessories, is very crucial for the sector, he said.

“We are devising ways to attract more investment to develop the backward linkage for reducing import dependency,” said Ahmed.

For product diversification, we will focus on manmade fibre as the demand for non-cotton products is on the rise, he added.   

A major part of rebuilding the image shall be about branding the products Bangladesh makes.

"‘Made in Bangladesh, with Pride’ is not just a tagline for us, it is a mission statement; one that shall determine the success of the RMG sector of Bangladesh in the ever-changing post-Covid-19 world,” said Oishee.

Oishee wants to portray Bangladesh to prospective buyers and entrepreneurs as the most attractive destination for business by representing the country in various international forums as part of the BGMEA team.

“The experienced panel members bring in years of knowledge and experience. The young ones bring in new ideas and exciting prospects,” said Khan Monirul Alam, managing director of Fashion. Com.

Panel leaders and current BGMEA leaders have termed the participation of second-generation apparel makers a good sign for the sector.

“I have encouraged young people to come forward because the leadership should not be with us leading at the top forever,” said BGMEA President Rubana Huq.

This is the time for the new generation to come forward and make sure that they are active in the trade association as they are more tech-savvy and more focused, said the business leader.

“This generation has learned from our mistakes and gained experience from our wisdom. I think, this year, the panels are a great combination of old, young, and experienced entrepreneurs,” she added.           

As the future of the country, as well as the RMG sector, would be redefined by the young generation, the second generation is the driver of the future, Faruque Hassan, panel leader of the Sammilita Parishad, told Dhaka Tribune.

In marching forward, we need a team combined with experienced and talented young entrepreneurs.

“We can think of a better tomorrow with their contribution,” said Hassan, also a former senior vice president of the BGMEA.

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