On September 14 BRAC Adolescent Development Programme arranged a ‘Livelihood Conference‘ at Mohakhali BRAC center. Participants came from 70 sub-districts across the country. All teenagers, these women are newborn entrepreneurs in the beautician industry. It was an opportunity for them to enrich their knowledge from the experiences shared by the reputed leaders present at the conference. I was thrilled to find out that most of these girls were from either from our training sessions or my previous field visits. These girls had some wonderful stories to share:
Kohinur is a village girl from Hatirdia, Norshingdi. In 2007, she received her training in a beautification course from BRAC. She started working from her home, later on taking a BRAC loan and opening her own salon. Her business thrives; consequently she recently opened a second branch. Currently, her two sisters help her with the business and along with six other female employees. Kohinur expresses her gratitude-“I’m thankful to god, I never thought, I could attain something like this!” She explains, “I grew up in a village. My dreams were very plain- getting married and having kids BRAC changed that dream. Now that I’ve training form BRAC, I have an ambition to be a successful entrepreneur, a beautician. I have met Kaniz Almas Khan in this conference, she is my idol I am very inspired!”
Jhuma Rani Sarkar from Mohongonj, Netrokona couldn’t continue her studies after class ten because of poverty. She received training through BRAC adolescent club in 2009 from BRAC training center in Dhaka. She is now a successful entrepreneur and beautician. The experience of the conference and presence of the famous personalities such as journalist, Munni Shaha, Kaniz Almas Khan (Entrepreneur, Beautician) and the esteemed businesswoman, Rokeya Afzal Rahman highly motivated her. She feels more confident. “Everybody knows me by the name ‘Beautician Jhuma’ in my village, I wish that one day the whole district will recognize me by that name,” said Sarkar.
Krishna Dey is the owner of the only beauty salon in Khutakhali village, initially starting the service from her home; her popularity demanded she shift to a location inthe town’s market. Dey’s father lent her the initial capital to start her business. A truck driver by profession, Mr. Dey retired in order to help his daughter with her increasingly successful business. Krishna’s earning alone is now enough to provide all the family members, including educational expenses of her younger siblings. Krishna said, “My father is very proud of me, he broadcasted to the whole village of my attending this conference! No one from my family has ever participated in a conference. I’m very proud and thankful to BRAC for helping me to become what I am today.”
Hearing their stories, I think to myself, change is possible. Provided they are given a chance, the girls in our country can elevate themselves into extraordinary situations. It was only in 2007, when we started our work experimentally by providing beautification training to 20 adolescent girls. 500 girls thus far have been successfully trained. Of this 500, two have joined as government trainers in the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs’ and 375 are working in the path to become self-sufficient and successful entrepreneurs.
By Rashida Pervin, Manager, BRAC Education Programme