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DU campus-based online businesses booming

Abdur Razzak Sohel
16 Sep 2022 00:00:00 | Update: 16 Sep 2022 03:08:40
DU campus-based online businesses booming
Students are coming up with innovative business ideas to be self-reliant by dealing in various items, including daily commodities – Shamsul Haque Ripon

It has been a very common phenomenon for long that Dhaka University students queue up for ages in front of their central library.

Students study there as long as the library is open to qualify in the next BCS examination.

Most of those library goers either give private tuitions or do part-time jobs for private companies to bear their monthly expenses.

The scenario has undergone a sea change as a significant number of students are now turning to entrepreneurship on the campus instead of giving private tuition.

They are now coming up with innovative business ideas based on their campus to be self-reliant by dealing in daily commodities to luxurious items. The remarkable portion is female students.

They have created a campus-based business platform named ‘Dhaka University Business Community (DBC)’ which facilitates entrepreneurs to advertise their products among thousands of consumers without any online fee.

Most of the consumers are students, teachers and university officials.

The university students post on the online group page the advertisements to sell reusable products including bicycle, motorcycle, fan, laptop and mobile.

The products are collected from across the country and even various imported products are available to the students.

Out of the entrepreneurs, some are seasonal and some are regular entrepreneurs. Yet, many students developed their own brands and launched outlet in the capital.

Not only that, many peer-groups and institutions have also started similar businesses with the inspiration of the platform.

Farha Rahman, an Anthropology student, said: “I have been connected with the platform since July 2022 and started my business with 14 dry foods products including Korean ramen, Nescafé coffee, chocolate and chicken nuggets.”

Currently she is selling some 75 products and the number is increasing day by day. Shee sells products at least TK10-20 less than others and this is why she has become popular among consumers, she said.

As there is no freezing facility on the campus for the students the demand for dry foods is gradually growing.

“I am getting some 150 orders monthly which I didn’t expect. I am also sending products across the whole country. I can support my education expenses and can contribute to my family. I am concentrating more on business than jobs,” she added.

Boosting entrepreneurship

The business opportunity on the campus is boosting entrepreneurship. From part-timer they are now turning into full-time entrepreneur after their graduation.

Many of the students are coming to campus business aiming to be entrepreneur. Many are on the way to enter into formal export.

According to business insiders, there are nearly 100 full-timers and some 200 seasonal entrepreneurs active with the platform.

Md Shafiqul Islam who was a student of Dhaka University in 2008-9 sessions is now involved in clothing business. He started it when he was a second-year student on a Facebook page. He has failed to make progress but has never given up.

When Covid-19 pandemic hit the country, he received training from BSCIC on lather to build up his own brand. He visited more than 100 factories and conducted research for two years.

“I went to formal production in November 2021. I have developed my own brand named Topex where money bag, watch, belt and vanity bags are available.”

Now some 10 workers are working in his business organization. Monthly, products worth about Tk10 to Tk15 lakh are being produced in his factory.

Apart from corporate sale he is now getting more than 100 orders from retailers. He has already sent his samples to the UK, Qatar, UAE and Spain. He is selling products worth over 1.5 lakh monthly to the members of the platform.

Source of products

The products are collected from different areas of the country. Besides, the students collect the imported items from the wholesale market of the capital.

The traditional food products including Hilsha of Padma, Rasmalai of Comilla, Curd of Bogra, Chui Jhal of Khulna, Kacha Golla from Natore, Chom Chom and Sweets of Tangail, Nakshi Pitha, natural honey from villages, Gawa Ghee of Pabna are available to the entrepreneurs.

The significant portion of business is on clothing and personal care business. The clothing products including jeans pants, t-shirt, shirt, panjabi, three pieces and saree are mostly demanded products to the consumers.

The personal care products including body spray, soap, lotion, cream and trimmer have a big demand.

As there is a lack of quality meal on the campus many entrepreneurs came up with the idea of homemade lunch and dinner. The students increasingly prefer the homemade foods due to quality and taste.

Khondoker Foisal Azam Bappy, founder of Du Mart, said during the Covid-19 pandemic students started business with different products.

“We planned to organize the entrepreneurs under an umbrella with an outlet. Any running or formal students of Dhaka University can be the member of Du Mart,” he said.

Currently, some 20 entrepreneurs supply different local products from their respective areas. They have more than 200 items of products at the outlet. They are planning to launch at least 10 outlets by 2025, he added.

DBC a big factor

Dhaka University Business Community (DBC) is playing a vital role in encouraging students to come to the business. Some 33.8K members of the university are connected with the social media platform.

Many of the students are coming to the business inspired by the platform. From this group many are becoming a national figure of business. Even, there are some entrepreneurs who are on the way to export with help of DBC.

Titas Sarker, former student of Philosophy Department was involved in a job in a buying house. He was looking for a platform to run his own business.

DBC gave him the opportunity to display his products to the consumers. Targeting the students of Dhaka University he launched clothing and organic products business. His JPS Genius Fashion is now well known to the campus and even to the whole country.

In just 15 months into the business he isselling clothes worth Tk10 to Tk15 lakh including jeans pant, polo-t shirt and organic products of Tk5 to Tk6 lakh.

“I have an outlet in the capital and have a plan to set up three more and at least 9 outlets in divisional cities. I have buyers to export to the foreign countries and the process is ongoing,” he added.