According to ‘Wikipedia’, the average literacy for a woman in Tangail, Central Bangladesh is little more than twenty-two percent. Most of the girls born there grow up to be the “house wives” of farmers, which is a physically strenuous life. Subsistence farming is almost the only type of employment in the area, and most of those jobs go to men. The thought of a woman becoming an entrepreneur, and going into business for herself is a dream, a fantasy which most would never even imagine.
Dare to Dream
A report in the ‘UCA News’ site, an independent Catholic New Source from Asia, shares that not only did Francila Nokrek of Sujon Jengcham, Tangail dare to dream that dream, she made it a reality. Francila’s local parish, which is St. Paul’s in Piracha, was there to help her get started making her living from her own business. She is a Garo tribal Catholic who hand looms traditional clothing which is purchased by Bengali and tribal people. The customers seem more than thrilled to buy her designs, according to the UCA News site.
Francila is thriving in a place where about half of the population work in the agricultural field. These people plant jute, potatoes, paddy, sugar cane, linseed, sesame, wheat, pulse, and mustard. They also produce such fruits as pineapple, litchis, bananas, jackfruit, and mangoes. Other than vegetable and fruit farming, the citizens of the area work in fisheries, dairies, poultry farms, weaving, and other industries. The world famous “Tangail Saree” is also produced here. This beautiful handloom saree is made of cotton and silk and is purchased by females from Bangladesh and India living all over the globe. But the chance of a woman being able to start and sustain her own business here is almost none-existent.
Francila was born to the parents of nine children in a very poor society. All nine of those kids, including Francila, quit school by the eighth grade. She shared that her fate seemed to be in becoming a rural housewife like all of the other women in her community, but she had a dream…to be self-employed. Francila went on to explain how she had fought to make that dream come true, not only for herself, but for other women in her community as well.
Francila gained the education she would need for her trade in much the same way that an apprentice would. After dropping out of school, she went to work for several different places which not only produced clothing, but handicrafts as well. Through these jobs, Francila was able to learn the sewing and crafting skills which would become so important to her position as an entrepreneur. As hard as she worked, however, she was not able to save enough money to start the business of her dreams. That is when the church stepped in to give Francila her miracle.
The Parish had announced plans to come up with a program which would help unemployed women. Francila took her idea to them, sharing that if she were able to start her business, she could hire some of those women as well. A spokesperson from the Church shared that Francila’s determination and desire were very convincing, and helped make the decision to help her. In 1997, with the financial help from the Church, she was able to open her hand looming business.
She currently employs fourteen women who earn about one thousand dollars a month. This is a very profitable amount of income for people from that area of the world. Maloti Nokrek, who is the president of one of the local groups for local tribal women, shares how proud the Achik Michik Society is of Francila. Her business is not only helping the women in the community, but also is helping to preserve their local way of life, and their tribal traditions.
Francila explains her hopes and dreams for the future. She wants to see even more women become entrepreneurs, and have the chance to become financially independent. She also hopes that her efforts to preserve the heritage of their culture will encourage others to do the same.
Angela Kaye Mason is a researcher, writer, business woman, and contributor at entrepreneurweek.com blog network. She may be reached at email@example.com. Follow Angela on Twitter @AngelaKayeMason!
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