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Caritas program backs pandemic-hit Bangladeshi entrepreneurs

Church charity extends helping hand to young people from the Garo community

Caritas program backs pandemic-hit Bangladeshi entrepreneurs

Garo entrepreneur Munmun Nokrek with a visitor at her stall during the Young Entrepreneurs Gathering 2020 at Mymensingh in Bangladesh on Nov. 19-20. (Photo supplied)

Catholic charity Caritas Bangladesh organized a gathering to boost dozens of young indigenous entrepreneurs still reeling from the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some 50 young entrepreneurs displayed their products and services during the two-day Young Entrepreneurs Gathering 2020 in Mymensingh city, about 120 kilometers north of capital Dhaka, on Nov. 19-20.

The program, arranged by Caritas Mymensingh regional office, sought to bring together young people involved in various businesses and services.

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Their stalls featured traditional and locally made items including food, clothes, bags and ornaments as well as services such as event management, wedding programs and beauty parlors. 

Caritas officials said the program was significant as some 7,500 ethnic people, mostly Garo people including beauty parlor workers, have lost their jobs and about 116 entrepreneurs closed their businesses during the pandemic.

"Caritas Mymensingh region has taken this initiative to arrange the gathering as many Garo people, who were involved with parlors such as workers and owners, lost their jobs and businesses. They have returned to the villages and scratched whatever living they can. Some are trying to make something new such as traditional clothes and food,” James Gomes, Caritas director (programs), who inaugurated the gathering by video conference, told UCA News.

Caritas brought young and new entrepreneurs to display their products and services, and they have been a part of a survey for future purposes, he said.

“We don't know if we can help them with money, but we are trying to do something for them with our advice and resources," Gomes added.

Munmun Nokrek, 30, was a traditional Garo dress and ornament business woman based in Dhaka. She mostly ran her business online.

During the Covid-19 outbreak, she returned to her village in Madhupur, Tangail district. Recently, in collaboration with her mother, younger sister and two staff, she started a weaving factory in her village home.

Nokrek highly appreciated the Caritas initiative for young entrepreneurs like her.

"This gathering was very helpful for us. In fact, it should have been arranged earlier. We have been able to communicate with seniors and value each other, which has encouraged us. Personally, I hope Caritas will arrange such a gathering in the future," she told UCA News.

Nokrek earns around 50,000 taka (US$588) per month from her online business after paying all costs.

"During Covid-19 our Garo community suffered badly but my online business was run on a small scale. In the future, our community can become self-sufficient through such efforts,” Nokrek added.

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