Citigroup Awards: Nilufar’s cricket bat gets her best innovative prize

Sep 2006
Dhaka, Bangladesh , September, 20 2006 - Citigroup Microentrepreneurship Awards, a global effort of the Citigroup Foundation, were formally announced in Dhaka yesterday, recognising those who had set outstanding examples for others in micro credit activities in Bangladesh. Jahida Begum won the Best Woman Microentrepreneur of the Year award 2006 while Zakir Hossain received the Best Microentrepreneur of the Year prize.

Eco-Social Development Organisation (ESDO) got the Best Microfinance Institution of the Year award while Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service (RDRS) Bangladesh won the Best Programme for the Hardcore Poor award. Nilufar Yasmin received the Best Innovative Micro Business of the Year award 2006.

Rokia Afzal Rahman, former adviser to the caretaker government, announced the names of the winners while chief guest of the programme Education Minister M Osman Farruk handed over the awards.

More than 565 people and organisations applied for the awards from all over the country. The advisory council selected winners in five categories after several rounds of screening and field interviews.

Jahida Begum said her family members were spending their days in severe hardship. After taking a Tk 4,000 loan from an NGO, she started a small business that has changed then lives of her family members.

Jahida is now involved in several businesses including poultry and fish culture. She also owns a fertiliser shop and a restaurant.

Receiving the award, Zakir Hossain said he has overcome his days of hardship and now dreams to set up a textile mill of his own.

Md Shahiduzzaman, executive director of ESDO, received the award on behalf of his organisation. ESDO has around 1 lakh borrowers in 10 districts. Referring to a district where ESDO operates, Shahiduzzaman said situation there has changed significantly.

Tapan Karmakar, finance director of RDRS received the award on behalf of his organisation. “It is not a big thing for us to get this award. What is most important to me is that Sokhina, an ultra poor woman in Nilphamari district, has been able to improve her life,” Karmakar noted.

After receiving the award from the minister, Nilufar Yasmin, who started producing cricket bats after taking a loan of Tk 8,000, said she did not have money to take her children to the doctor when they were sick.

“Economically, I am not a vulnerable person anymore,” said Nilufar, who eyes to market cricket bats globally in near future.

Dr Wahiduddin Mahmud, eminent economist and former adviser to the caretaker government, Stacey Morse, representative of International Private Sector and philanthropist also spoke at the ceremony as special guests.

Speaking at the function, Osman Farruk said the activities of the NGOs are not always questioned because there are many NGOs involved in many good initiatives and those who got awards are some of them.

Lauding the success of the winners, the minister said rich people have lunch costing more than $100 but some of these micro entrepreneurs have started their business with only Tk 4,000, which is around $60.

In his speech, Wahiduddin Mahmud said those who won the awards took a small loan initially for starting a business and after repaying they took the loans again.

They worked hard and expanded their businesses, he said adding they have not only created employment for themselves but also generated employment for others.

Rokia Afzal Rahman said the award programme will encourage others to become entrepreneurs. “We discovered that they are some of the best borrowers in the country,” she added.

Mamun Rashid, country officer of the Citigroup, said the sponsors of the programme have received tremendous response from people.

The winners received $4,000 equivalent in taka. Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) sponsored the prize money for ‘Best Programme for the Hardcore Poor’ award while Citigroup Foundation, philanthropic arm of the Citigroup, sponsored the other four categories.

Citibank, NA in Bangladesh and PKSF organised the award programme as local partners. The Daily Star, Prothom Alo, Channel i and Dhaka Sheraton Hotel are partner organisations of the programme.

Source : BangladeshNews

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