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M. Habibur Rahman was born in Rajshahi in Bangladesh. He obtained his BA (honors) and MA degrees in economics at Rajshahi University in 1985 and 1986 respectively. He was conferred PhD degree for his research in the area of international economics at the Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh in 2003. During the last 18 years he has undertaken a number of qualitative and quantitative studies in a wide range of areas that include, among others, private sector development, trade, poverty, education. He has worked as a consultant for the major development partners of Bangladesh such as UNDP, ADB, and JICA. Recently he has undertaken a UNDP sponsored study entitled “MDG (Education) Needs Assessment and Costing”. He is now involved in one IFC sponsored project in the area of private sector development as a monitoring and evaluation consultant. He also worked for the country’s leading civil society think tank ‘Centre for Policy Dialogue’ as a Research Fellow in 2007. Rahman has participated in a number of policy dialogues, seminars, consultative meetings and workshops across the country. Rahman is now working as an Associate Professor of economics at the Jagannath University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Hathay Bunano Proshikhan Samity (HBPS) employs poor rural Bangladeshi women to produce hand-crocheted and hand-knitted children’s toys and clothes, which are then sold internationally.

To download the Hathay Bunano case study from the GIM database, please click here.

What is the basic value proposition of Hathay Bunano and what makes it financially sustainable?

Hathay Bunano has been an initiative to contribute to reduction in poverty in Bangladesh. It has been generating number of economic and social benefits for the rural poor in the country. HBPS has created employment opportunities for about 3600 rural poor women artisans, through its 34 rural production centres across the country. HBPS generated social benefits include reduction in economic migration, women empowerment and improvement in the quality of rural life. It also pays special attention to the physically challenged people by providing them with employment opportunities. HBPS’ environment friendly production activities contribute nothing to the environmental degradation.

HBPS is generating a profit margin of 14% which is re-invested into the business for training, marketing, research, and other development purposes. Its sales revenue has increased at 40% year on year and the market for their product is as large as US$ 4 billion a year.

What is the typical profile of the women employed by Hathay Bunano?

Hathey Bunano workers are typically rural working age women from the poor families and have limited opportunity to work outside their home. HBPS gives preference to employing disadvantaged women with young children, physically challenged, and socially disadvantaged ethnic people.

What are some of the challenges hindering the company’s development and growth and how are they being overcome?

Availability of adequate financing has been the key issue on its way of expansion. As a for-profit social business it requires credit at low interest rate which is not available for such ventures. Lack of availability of raw materials in required quality and quantity, availability of women labour with required artisan skills and knowledge, attitude of the rural families to engage their women members in activities outside their home, availability of low cost rooms with required facilities are other issues on its growth and development.

Despite these challenges HBPS has been moving ahead with its strong commitment to development. Financial issues have been dealt with by the profit earned from the developed country markets, part of which is re-invested into the business, and the contributions from multinational corporations under their CSR fund. The other issues have been overcome through their awareness building initiatives for the local leaders, dialogues with local administration, use of personal connection, and skill development training at their rural production locations.

Who are some of the key actors that contributed to Hathay Bunano’s development and success?

The two highly motivated founders of HBPS – Ms Samantha Morshed and her husband Mr Golam Morshed – have been the key actors to this unique initiative. A couple of multinational corporations working in Bangladesh, namely Chevron Bangladesh Ltd and Tullow Oil Company Bangladesh Ltd and a local national NGO called National Development Program (with support from CARE Bangladesh), have provided financial assistance for HBPS’ artisan training programs. The International Finance Corporation, the South East Asian Development Facility, the UK Department for International Development, and Swiss Contract extended logistic support. Local leaders have also participated very actively in HBPS’ awareness building programs.

Based on HBPS’s experience, what are the promises of the handicrafts industry as a source of employment opportunities for the poor in Bangladesh and the region?

HBPS is a tiny initiative in the poverty reduction stride but its commendable success over a span of only 4 years is a clear demonstration of the potential for generating employment opportunities for a large number of poor people in the country. This part of the world has abundant supply of unskilled labour with limited employment opportunities. The handicraft industry, characterized by the use of low technology equipments and low level of skill requirement, can play a significant role in creating employment opportunities for a large size of poor labour force in the region.


Murat Cokgezen was born in Istanbul, Turkey. He is currently teaching at Marmara University Department of Economics, Istanbul, Turkey. His main research interests are entrepreneurship and business environment in Turkey, Central Asia and Caucasus. He is currently working on the effects of state owned enterprises on local entrepreneurship. Murat authored a GIM case study on a textile company in Turkey, namely Hey Textile, a study about a female entrepreneur in Turkey who achieved business success by breaking from the conventional practices in the textile industry and investing in poorer parts of Turkey.

Hey Textile is a clothing business in Turkey run by a woman entrepreneur, who achieved success by breaking from conventional business practices and investing in poorer parts of the country. About half of the jobs are created for women, which has contributed to their empowerment through greater income and independence. Click here to watch the Hey Textile video.

To download the Hey Textile case study from the GIM database, please click here.

What is Hey Textile’s basic value proposition and what makes its financial model sustainable?

Turkey, like many other emerging economies, suffers from socio – economic disparities in geographical regions. Hey Textile, by taking advantage of government incentives for business investments in impoverished regions, shifted its investments from developed regions around Istanbul to less developed ones, creating income opportunities and employment for poor rural populations in the textile industry. This new strategy, not only benefited Hey Textile, through cost reductions in their operations, but also the region’s economic and social welfare, through investment in rural areas. While the newly created jobs and offered trainings contributed to income increase of the poor locals on the one hand, increased income transformed social life in rural areas, especially through women’s empowerment, since women constitute the vast majority of Hey Textile’s work force.

What have been the biggest challenges hindering the Hey Textile’s development and growth?

The basic challenge Hey Textile faced when investing in rural predominantly agricultural areas, was the lack of qualified employees with relevant skills for the garment industry and the lack of familiarity of its newly hired workers with the working conditions in an industrial environment. The training programme offered by the enterprise and co-funded by Turkey’s State Employment Agency helped to overcome this constraint.

A second challenge came from the difficulty of finding adequate local partners for its investments in these rural areas, as most potential partners were not familiar with this industry and expectations of investors had to be carefully managed. Government incentives helped to spark regional development.

What are the benefits for the poor generated by Hey Textile?

Hey Textile’s four new production units created job opportunities for approximately 1,000 locals who live in and around four districts, in which per capita income is well below the average of Turkey. When one considers the populations of these districts are around 10’000 inhabitants, the impact of these investments on the community becomes apparent. The workers of Hey Textile factories are offered above average salaries and better conditions compared to the ones in the region.

What are the implications for a woman-led entrepreneurial success story in Turkey?

Despite the legal equality granted to women in the early years of the Republic, social status of women is still well behind men. All social and economic indicators are worse for women than those for men.

Initiatives of Mrs. Bektaş, owner of Hey Textile, have attracted the public’s attention and made her a public figure. This was something unusual, particularly in business. I am sure that success of Mrs Bektas encouraged other potential female entrepreneurs to enter into a business.

Additionally, she was appointed as President of the Women Entrepreneurs Board of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey. She put tremendous effort to improve women’s position in business, either as a worker or as an entrepreneur.

What has been your personal experience going through the GIM training and case research process?

‘What is good for business is also good for the poor’. I have always believed in this motto. Before participating in this project, the only source of my belief was the studies that had been done by others. Working on this case study gave me the opportunity to see how an ordinary business may change people’s life.


Olga Kutuzova is a public administration specialist, a Member of the Board of Directors of “International Investment center” (IIC), an international NGO in special consultative status with ECOSOC UN, a UNECE expert, and has worked for the US Department of Commerce. Olga authored a GIM case study on mobile banking in Russia, namely The Voronezh Oblast State Fund for Small Business Support, which helps low-income entrepreneurs from remote areas to get access to financial services by leveraging innovative technologies, such as mobile banking and non-personalized plastic cards.

The Fund in cooperation with multitude of partners provides microfinance services, be it commercial capital, and mobile banking for MSMEs in the remote regions of Voronezh Oblast. The mobile banking project is perceived as a major driver of innovative financial service instruments to serve underprivileged businesses in remote areas with no physical infrastructure in place.

To download the Voronezh Oblast Fund case study from the GIM database, please click here.

What is the Fund’s basic value proposition and what makes its financial model sustainable?

The Voronezh Oblast State Fund for Small Business Support (‘the Fund’) in cooperation with a variety of partners provides microfinance services and mobile banking for micro-and small businesses in the remote regions of Voronezh Oblast. In spite of Voronezh Oblast disadvantaged socio-economic situation it has got a relatively developed telecommunication infrastructure, which created a good base for the development of mobile banking in the region.

The Fund’s vision is to promote access to small business loans for economically active people and thereby help to create employment in Voronezh Oblast. The Fund provides people from remote areas with access to commercial capital and actively promotes additional financial services to a greater number of clients. The mobile banking project is perceived as a major driver of innovative financial service instruments to serve underprivileged businesses, particularly in remote areas, where no physical banking infrastructure is in place

What have been the biggest challenges hindering the Fund’s development and growth?

The Fund has faced three major constraints: the lack of adequate legal regulation of microfinance activities, poor banking infrastructure in remote regions and financial and technological illiteracy.

The Fund was able to overcome the challenges by having received the financial support from the development partners – the Swiss Foundation for Technical Cooperation (Swisscontact), DAI and the Eurasia Foundation (USAID funding). The support was provided especially in the initial portfolio enlargement and the Fund’s methodology development. During 2007-2009, the Fund received subsidies from the Voronezh Oblast government within the framework of the Voronezh regional target program for the development of regional business and for providing financial and consulting services to small businesses in remote areas.

What is the state of financial inclusion in the different regions of the Russian Federation?

In Russia, the number of microfinance organizations is growing steadily. As of early 2008, the country had more than 2,300 microfinance providers of various types (credit cooperatives, state foundations and non-profit organizations) with an aggregate loan portfolio of around 25 billion rubles (USD 1 billion). Nevertheless, around half of Russia’s economically active population lacks adequate access to financial services: according to current Prime-minister Vladimir Putin’s message to the State Council, approximately 60 million Russians do not have access to banking services and only one quarter of Russians have a bank account.

What are the promises in terms of human development of the use of the Fund’s services?

For people living in remote areas, where banks do not have many branches or offices, the use of microfinance permit to start a business, increase quality of life, achieve better level of education and improve living and health conditions. Mobile banking enables people to become more economically active without having to rely on conventional banking infrastructure.

What are the benefits produced for the poor by the Fund?

The Fund aims to serve the market segment that has no or limited access to banking services. In 2007, the Fund started to develop a project that promoted the use of mobile banking and non-personalized plastic cards, helping low-income businesses from remote areas get access to financial services. The project started in 2009. Through the provision of mobile banking and non-personalized banking cards directly at the Fund’s offices, people get access to financial services in remote areas without physically having to travel to a branch of the bank.

What are the main challenges facing the Fund? Do you have recommendations?

Now the Fund has a new general director, appointed by Voronezh Oblast Administration. I hope he will continue overcoming the progressive changes, started by the previous manager. The financial crisis, followed by raising prices for food products, will increase demand for micro-financial services from farmers living in remote areas.

What has been your personal experience going through the GIM training and case research process?

I appreciate team-building during the GIM training and experience gained in teaching methods with case study presentation. The case research process itself was quite hard, but at the end I feel proud that I made it through.

How do you intend to use the experience you gained from working on the case study for UNDP? Do you plan to disseminate this newly created knowledge in any way?

I am planning to use the experience from working on the UNDP case study and information about microfinance in a preparation for the 3rd annual conference “Public Diplomacy and Youth Volunteering”, which will be devoted to “Poverty Alleviation and Youth Entrepreneurship”. This conference will be aimed at youth in social-oriented enterprises and held in the UN Palace of Nations in Geneva in October 2012.