Bangladeshi microentrepreneur Shamima Khatun (26) left for New York Sunday to attend the closing ceremony of the International Year of Microcredit as a guest of honor.
Shamima is one of the four winners of the Global Microentrepreneurship Awards (GMA), organised by the Citigroup Foundation (the philanthropic arm of Citigroup) and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).
She has been selected as the winner of the "Most Innovative Business of the Year" award and she will represent Bangladesh at the gala closing forum of UN Year of Microcredit 2005 at the UN Headquarters.
She is an inhabitant of Biralakkhi, one of the southern-most villages of Shyamnagar sub-district of Satkhira district in Khulna division.
She was just a poor street seller of vegetables before she became a member of Noabeki Gonomukhi Foundation (NGF), a local micro-finance institution (MFI), in January 1994. That time she was just a young woman of 15 years. After becoming the member of NGF, she started saving money from her daily profits.
In June 1994, she took her first loan of Tk. 4,000.00 from NGF and started her business with the help of her husband by setting up a small vegetable shop at Noabeki Bazar.
"Before setting up the shop, I had nothing", said Shamima, "I started my business of fresh vegetables with Tk. 4,000.00 only. I was the first person who supplied fresh vegetables from nearby districts to my area and gained the first-mover advantage. As a result I was able to expand my business rapidly. Now I have become the wholesaler of vegetables in my area."
Shyamnagar is a salty area, near the Sundarbans and most of the local people use to cultivate prawn and lobster. Today Shamima's hard work coupled with her steely determination has earned her the success as she has been adjudged the most innovative business entrepreneur in Bangladesh.