Interviews

Alamgir Shamsul Alamin (Kajal) President, REHAB Director, Shamsul Alamin Group

Alamgir Shamsul Alamin (Kajal), the second son of a legendary businessman late A. K. Shamsul Alamin is taking the lead as the President of Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh (REHAB). He is also the Director of The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).
Mr. Alamgir is an eminent personality and leads as the Director of other business units like S.A Spinning Mills Ltd., Fuad Spinning Mills Ltd. ALENCO Limited, Global Source & Consulting Ltd., Shoppers World Ltd., Akash IT Limited, Samco Retails Ltd., ROKARA Auto Bricks Ltd. He also holds shares in companies like Sonar Bangla Insurance Company Ltd. (PLC ); Pioneer Insurance Ltd.( PLC )., Alfa Islami Life Insurance Ltd., Marker Pharmaceuticals Ltd., and Alamgir Trading.
This notable personality completed his education from the United Kingdom. However, on attaining a BBA from the USA, Mr. Alamgir along with two of his brothers joined the family business in 1990 and instilled new values and ethical practices to take them to the next level.
With its expertise in textile, SAG Group started its journey back in 1958 and completed 60 years in the business with exceptional records. Shamsul Alamin Real Estate successfully entered the market with the promise of delivering better homes for a better life.

“The government must encourage the initiative of building roads, culverts, and bridges which can link the citizens to the satellite town. Only then a project as such will be profitable.”

Shamsul Alamin Group (SAG) group has a business legacy of 60 years. Elaborate on the dynamism you and two of your brothers have brought into the business for the past three decades?
My father started the business back in 1958 in an environment, which had many challenges ahead. There were 22 families in the business, and the Pakistani government suppressed most of the Bengali businessmen who searched for opportunities but were deprived of their rights. However, my father with other Bangladeshi entrepreneurs fought against the regime to develop their enterprises.
Our business previously exported textiles, leather goods, and tea overseas in countries like Russia, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia. My father created not only a business legacy but also a brand name. The name I inherited that exposed me to a lot of opportunities wherever I went. I joined the company 28 years back, a year after which my father retired. Since then, the three of us, my elder brother being the chairman and the younger one is the Director of Finance, have been continuously trying for almost three decades to bring in new ideas and nurturing whatever our father left for us.

What is your primary motivation behind having ethical business practices?
Even though some of the ethical standards are hard to comply with, SAG has always been following such business practices. We try to work within the framework produced by the government and have thus, managed to retain customers over an extended period both locally and internationally. Our loyal consumer base has what made us stick to such ethical practices, and we strive to deliver them with better products every passing year.

How many sectors is your group currently looking after?
Our primary business is textiles. But we do have other units like real estate. We are also the shareholders of a few leasing companies, export, and import and have a retail business like Shopper’s World. So, it is a diversified business entity.

You entered real state with a promise to provide better homes for a better life. How far have you been able to live up to that?
Housing is one of the primary needs of people. It’s commendable that our honorable Prime Minister is trying to reduce the infrastructural lacking and providing affordable housing for a living. More than 1200 of our members are working hand in hand to fulfill her commitment. With a strong marketing policy, REHAB is trying to develop a sector that is environment-friendly and caters to the needs of the society. Providing affordable housing is what stands at the core of our operations. We have been trying to bridge the gap between the social statuses of different classes to offer affordable living since inception and would continue to do so in the future.

REHAB is amongst the front ranking and well-resourced associations which can strongly influence the government policy. What challenges are you are facing to maintain the interest of different stakeholders in this sector?
We are delivering 10,000 units on an average every year. A lot of changes have been brought to Dhaka’s skyline thanks to REHAB, and vertical living was also first introduced by our members. However, we lack a good rapport with RAJUK. Although, both the entities are working to sort the differences; it is difficult to operate when RAJUK is a competitor as well as a regulator alongside. The past trends speak that the land that they previously handed over to individuals in Purbachal at a price of Tk 22 lacs costs the developers more than a crore to acquire. This high rate is ultimately passed on to the customers. Thus, RAJUK should not develop apartments and hand it to individuals, but can acquire lands and pass it to the realtors for further processing. Since Bangladesh faces land scarcity, properties must be disseminated amongst developers. Moreover, we are a country of 160 million people and providing them with food security is our priority. Thus, to achieve all those, it is essential to building vertical living opportunities.

Dhaka has a unique topography and is surrounded by all the necessary space to build Satellite Township. Why are we still lagging behind?
Satellite city is not a one-day process; it involves a lot of things. To build a satellite city, the crucial factors in the scenario are infrastructure, road connectivity, access to electricity and availability of energy. The government must encourage the initiative of building roads, culverts, and bridges which can link the citizens to the satellite town. Only then a project as such will be profitable.
There is no doubt that every day thousands of people are migrating to Dhaka because of the better jobs and living facilities. However, it is imperative to build satellite towns to reduce the pressure of the overgrowing population from the city. We can draw inspiration from the satellite town in Gurgaon, India made by Delhi, which has been possible only using the highway that connected the two places.
REHAB has already initiated a project in Kalshi and land has been provided by the National Housing Authority (NHA), and two of our other members have committed to the construction which is a pilot project. Once we complete the pilot project, we plan to do more with the government on the Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) basis and develop affordable house projects for middle-class people.

Due to the real estate sector, the home loan opportunities in the market have grown over the years. What else can be done in this context?
REHAB demands that the government must fix a flexible home loan policy. Recently, we did an exhibition in collaboration with the House Building Finance Corporation (HBFC). The exhibition’s main idea was to inform our customers that home loans can be availed at a single-digit rate over a period of 25 years. We have negotiated with the government over the past few years and put forward the idea that without flexible home loans the middle-income group will not be able to purchase a residence. Thus, other financial institutions like Delta BRAC Housing (DBH), Standard Chartered Bank (SCB), National Housing, International Finance Investment and Corporation Bank (IFIC) and even Sonali Bank are coming up with such solutions.
Maybe you are also aware of the fact that REHAB is demanding a special fund from the institutions that will be available to the borrowers for a long term. However, the approximate time for home loans must be 25 years. We have vouched for a special fund of around Tk. 20,000 crores which will be utilized by the institutions. Unfortunately, this decision is still under process, despite the pressure from the housing ministry itself.

Since Real Estate is providing durable products into the market, it is vital for the realtors to balance, between maintaining compliance with regulators and coming into negotiable terms with the service providers, in a market where price is competitive. How are you meeting both ends?
Well, our efficiency has made us meet both ends. We are moving at a fast pace when it comes to acquiring lands. We are giving people quality products and negotiating the price about that. This will help us benefit in the long run. Also, it is essential to provide the right kind of apartments for the right areas. Our range of work stretches from locations like Uttara, Baridhara, Mirpur, Kakrail, Shantinagar, Gulshan and Banani and we work for both the high end as well as mid-income level clients.

Do you have a plan of making any high rise residential area?
We are building a high rise project but the buildings there are mostly commercial. We have done a similar one in Shyamoli which is also a commercial-residential project.

What is your future goal?
Our company is always devoted to providing consumers with their desired satisfaction. We want to continue with this motto and keep coming up with various solutions for affordable living.

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