Farida begum seat on first line in the group picture Photo: HP
Farida begum is unsure about her age. She thinks she is in mid-40s, but knows that she had spent a significant time of her life toiling in nearby bushes and later unhygienic toilets at the Satkhira Municipality, south eastern part of Bangladesh.
A slight figure in bright yellow sari, she is talking with a customer why sanitation goods is essential for every human life and how she was motivated to be an entrepreneur and recognized as local sanitation ambassador at her locality.
Ms. Begum didn’t have sanitation knowledge before and most of the time she along with her children were sick like diarrhea, vomiting, stomach upsets etc. Husband was only bread earner, earning 200 taka (barely €2) for a day of back-breaking work. So, marginalized community was mostly excluded from WASH services.
Open defecation was widespread, near the same canals that provide water for washing and cleaning, and waterborne illness were common, particularly among the most vulnerable- young and old.
Farida is a credit beneficiary of ASA, MFI and was informed about WASH loan facilities and sanitation goods availability from where she can collect. Her curious mind pushed to go to far away entrepreneurs and understood precisely why her family falls in disease frequently. She discussed with her husband about a decent toilet installation at their house and then took loan from ASA for it. She observed no one had such disease and feel comfortable to the natural call, but neighbors had remained same problems.
She talked with her husband about sanitation business, but refused due to lack of finance and no experience on the business. She contacted again with the entrepreneur to know in details. The entrepreneur advised her communicate with Hope for the Poorest (HP) and gave contact details of its local staff. HP selected her and provided necessary capacity building trainings and established linkage with ASA local branch for her startup capital.
At the initial stage people had negative critics and didn’t come to her business center for product purchasing. Husband didn’t cooperate what she wants in her business. She was frustrated and came to HP what actions she should take to functionalize her business center again. HP took her seriously with new strategy and then she focused on neighboring women and girls who had sanitation related problems and presented herself and with her family members as a burning example of solution.
Now Farida is stable with her business and every month she gains some amount of profit. Husband positively responds to her decisions. She with her husband works together in the business center and everyday selling numbers of sanitation products to the customers. People who were critic to her now they say Farida is right in her way and thanks to her services and products with affordable cost that makes them easy to purchase and to use it properly. Now community people are becoming healthy and leading dignified life.
Farida has an entrepreneurial mind that helps her realization of the existence of a market need. She never thought before she will be a business owner and will help the community by her innovative ways. She already starts other WASH accessories business in the same center and wants to reach her services at every door step at surrounding communities.