She was married off in 1987 with Gulam Mostafa of Khulna when she was a seventh grader
This story is about successfully overcoming challenges.
Abida Sultana is the daughter of Sheikh Gul Mohammad of the Ghop area in Jashore.
She got married to Gulam Mostafa of Khulna in 1987 when she was a seventh grader. Thus began her life as a homemaker.
Her husband was a motor parts businessman and the sole agent of Hossain Spring in Khulna.
Abida's struggles began after the death of her husband in 2002. She had two sons and a daughter by this time.
The first obstacles were her brothers-in-law who plotted to take over her motor parts business.
Abida Sultana then started to look after the business with the support of the spring manufacturing company. She also took a loan from the local branch of Eastern Bank.
Her rainy days were over. Now, she is one of the most successful business owners in Jashore district.
Regarding the transformation from a homemaker to an entrepreneur, Abida said, "I never thought about becoming a businesswoman. But the situation compelled me to take the lead in my late husband's business."
She said that she after her husband's death, she had asked her brothers-in-law to take care of the business. But instead, they suggested that she should give up her share of the business.
"They also threatened to open another shop beside mine to compete with me," Abida said.
However, they did not succeed, and I started to overcome the challenges one after another, she added.
I started the motor parts shop with a new name "New Bangla Motors," Abida said.
"There were goods worth Tk500,000 in my shop, and I took a loan of Tk500,000 more from Eastern bank to expand the business. After repaying the bank loan, I took an SME loan of Tk1,800,000 in 2010," Abida added.
At the end of 2011, I took another loan of Tk5,000,000 from the same bank. And in 2013, I took a loan of Tk1 crore to become the agent of Appllo tyre of Rahimafrooz and CS tyre of India, said the leading female business owner of Jashore.
She also had to experience challenges when her sales boomed. Other male shop owners ganged-up against her to force her to leave the business, but she did not give up hope.
With determination and strong will, she reached the successful position that she is in today.
"My annual turnover is over Tk10 crore," said Abida Sultana.
She also said that she is the sole agent of Hossain Spring in Jashore, as her husband used to be.
"I sell car springs in wholesale. Besides, I also played the role of publicity secretary of the Jashore district motor-parts business owners' association," Abida said.
Even though Bangladesh Bank has ordered banks to fix the interest rate between 1 – 9 percent for female entrepreneurs, the banks are defying the order, she alleged.
"The banks charge us 10 to 12 percent interest. Moreover, they are not raising the loan amount."
For larger businesses, she says the SME loans should be Tk1 crore.
Now, Abida Sultana deals with the Jashore branches of One Bank, United Commercial Bank, AB Bank, City Bank and Eastern Bank.
Abida has been successful in everything. She has also built her own house at Nilganj beside the Jashore-Narail road.
Her elder son Mostafa Saikat Emon completed his BBA from AIUB, and her second son Irfan is studying accounting at a private university in India. Her daughter, Sharmin Fatem Oishi, is studying for the HSC at Jashore Cantonment College.
Abdul Mannaf, area chief of One Bank in Jashore said, "We provide SME loans to female entrepreneurs or businesswomen at flexible terms. We are working so that other women can also become as successful as Abida."
Mizanur Rahman Khan, former chairman of the Jashore Chamber of Commerce said, "Abida Sultana Mukti struggled a lot in life. She had to face obstacles in this business. But she did not give up. Other women should also come forward like her."
Abida Sultana believes that anyone can be successful with honesty and sincerity. So, she advises other women to be confident and become entrepreneurs.