For the Love of the Country
What has been the biggest motivating factor for you to be a successful entrepreneur?
My family, in particular my parents, are the biggest source of inspiration for me. I was born into a joint family and grew up in an environment where to love and care for each other was the norm. We used to have our meals together and it only strengthened our bond. I grew up under the tutelage of my mother and her strong sense of morality which left an indelible imprint on my life, would later serve as a guiding light for me.
I took a great liking in running a business in my childhood when I would watch my uncle run a business of betel nuts at a weekly village market. I spent many afternoon and evening with my uncle there. I made up my mind right there and then to be a businessman in the future. My uncle’s small business venture inspired not only me but a lot of other people.
You are opening factories in government certified economic zones (Meghna Economic Zone). How do you plan to utilize these zones and how can such projects help Bangladesh grow?
With ambitious plans of industrialization and reducing unemployment, the Bangladeshi Government has opted to install 100 Economic Zones in 15 years and Meghna Group of Industries (MGI) was a pioneer in this venture with their own private Economic Zones (EZ) of Bangladesh. Meghna Economic Zone Ltd. has received the very first private EZ license of Bangladesh in August 2016, while Meghna Industrial Economic Zone Ltd. received private EZ license in September 2017.
Economic zones of MGI has spearheaded a new way of industrialization in Bangladesh. In the lands owned by MGI, they have made huge development by installing industrial utility facilities and offering every possible benefit for potential industries to be set up. Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (EZA) offers attractive incentive package including 10 years tax-benefit, duty free import of materials, etc.
At present, Meghna Economic Zone stands as the first private EZ, set on its own land of 245 acres. It is already powered with its own power plants, gas connections, central effluent treatment plant and so on. It has installed industries of pulp and paper, edible oil refinery, seeds crushing mills, sugar refinery, chemical plant, and is coming up with its own container terminal, and Bangladesh’s first PVC resin plant. Similarly Meghna Industrial Economic Zone stands on 110 acres of land, and equipped with similar infrastructural supports. The zone has installed a beverage factory, steel fabrication industry, fibre bags industry, noodles and biscuit factory, printing and packaging, garments accessories factory, etc. These industries include several local and foreign investments, while more are on the way.
The two EZ have a combined expected investment of above US$ 2.0 billion and is expecting to employ over 30,000 people. These incentives show that Bangladesh is more investment-ready than before. These initiatives not only provide more employment opportunities, but also generate more income for people while also increasing the output of the nation. With EZs, more foreign investment are coming into the country, and the export basket of the country is getting more diversified. With planned industrialization, environmental protection has also been prioritized by the authority. All these initiatives show that the industrial picture of Bangladesh is upgrading itself to become an exemplary country for investment.
Fresh was recently awarded the best brand in the FMCG category and you were awarded ‘The World’s Greatest Leaders 2017-18’ in a summit of ‘Indo-UAE Business & Social Forum’. What does this achievement mean for the company?
When I think of these awards, I feel proud that I am a part of this achievement. These achievements are not my own success. Without the support of my colleagues, distributors, stakeholders and also consumer, we would not be here. Therefore, these accolades only increases our responsibility towards our stakeholders so that we can serve them better now.
The recent Primaduta award adds another jewel to your crown. What role will MGI play in the future regarding the import and export business with the world?
Primaduta Award is one of the most encouraging and prestigious programmes of the government of Indonesia which aims to build a strong relationship and networking among overseas and indigenous exporters. I feel honored and humbled to be given this prestigious award by the Indonesian government.
Working full time to develop your own business while trying to contribute to the economic development of the country is not an easy task. But I strongly believe that strong partnerships and co-operation with the members of the society can significantly benefit by sharing our joy and success.
In the future, we are planning to venture more export-based business on agro-based products. We have started to spread our footprints outside Bangladesh, especially in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Europe, North and South America. Through our meticulous efforts to export various products like cement, chemical, papers, sugar, refined oil, beverage, to these regions we are acting on our expansion plans. In the future, we are planning to export agro-based products and shall be able to bring more foreign currency for the country while helping to develop national economy and international alliance.
MGI is supplying high-quality products to consumers at very competitive prices. To supply high quality products to the existing and prospective consumers we need an uninterrupted procurement and production in the efficient supply chain management. To foster these challenges MGI focuses on few points; to procure raw materials from the internationally reputed suppliers at competitive prices, constant sourcing of quality raw materials around the globe and continuous endeavor to invest in R&D.
Would you like to share the innovation mantra of MGI with us?
According to me, if people are set free to work, it creates a sense of responsibility and ownership among them to do the job sincerely. I only give directions to my employees instead of micro managing them. It gives them space to think freely and utilize their potential to achieve.
I do not keep any decision pending. I try to take my decision and deliver it to my people as soon as possible. This increases clarity and expedites action.
To provide something better to our customers, we invest in research by continuously engaging in diversification, modification, up-gradation, and expansion. Our purpose is to improve our products.
You have plants for edible oils, poultry feed, and mustard oil. What are the challenges in maintaining a quality factory? How do you promote good food manufacturing practices?
In order to produce a good quality food product you must have good premises, proper equipment, good sanitation and hygiene practices, production and process control and finally quality control.
We have designed our factories considering the above factors and imported latest equipments with the best technology and quality. Quality is our top priority starting from raw materials to finished product. We maintain control at each and every step of production process with the help of our qualified production and quality control staffs.
Moreover for elimination of hygiene risk in food production Good Hygiene Practice (GHP) and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) systems are followed and all these safety matters are monitored regularly by regulatory bodies and endorsed by international certification agencies.
Fresh has recently expanded to eight new factories. Could you detail this expansion and Fresh’s plan to penetrate a market that is shifting towards processed foods?
Bangladesh is developing fast and we are experiencing changes in the lifestyle of our citizens. There is a growing need for quality food in Bangladesh. To provide the best quality food products, MGI plans to come up with a range of process food that includes biscuits, cakes, snacks, confectioneries and so on. We are coming up with state-of-the-art technology from world’s best suppliers. Hopefully, we will be able to add more value in people’s lives with quality process food.
My vision has always been to make sure that customers receive world class products in the country at affordable prices. So, I always opted for production at home instead of importing commodities. We also have a plan to break boundaries by coming up with state-of-the-art technology for MGI products for the global market.
What’s the best advice you ever got? What’s your advice for budding entrepreneurs?
To be a successful entrepreneur one must have the desperation with a never-say-die attitude to realize his/her dream.
I would suggest that the aspiring entrepreneurs be optimistic yet realistic. They must cherish a dream deep in their heart and give their best for the fulfillment of their dream. At the same time, formal education and knowledge as well as practical experience of the business he/she wishes to venture into is also important.
My suggestion to the budding entrepreneurs would be to keep on learning from both failure and success. It’s important for them to use every moment to realize their vision.