In 2013, Homayra Mostofa Sohani started her architectural and interior design studio "Sohani's Interior" with Tk50,000 that she got from selling her paintings. She also borrowed some money from her relatives to launch her dream project with only 11 employees.
With time, the lover of painting has risen through the ranks and become a successful entrepreneur with hard work and dedication – her firm with over 100 employees at work now has a yearly turnover amounting to Tk10 crore.
As a token of appreciation for her success, Homayra, who is now in her thirties, has received the National SME Entrepreneur Award this year from the prime minister.
Homayra started her career as an interior designer at Partex Group after finishing her university education. However, she always had a dream to be an entrepreneur, which did not let her continue the job for a long time.
"I have been a lover of paintings since I was a child. I was a statistics student at the University of Chattogram but I also trained myself as a painter. One day I saw a call for designs from the military and I participated in that. My design was appreciated and approved by the military. That was my first success. Since then I have never looked back. I still work on different designs for the military," Homayra told The Business Standard.
"I had to face a lot of hurdles to start my firm and continue my work. At first, I had to take loans to face economic difficulties. I also had to face social dogmas about paintings," she added.
Evaluating herself, Homayra said, "I have come to this position through hard work. It took a lot of time and labour. Over the years, I have found myself succeeding in business expansion and employment. I have already done a lot of projects. For that, I had to combine my family life and professional work. When I look back on all the projects that I have done, I feel a little surprised. I forget that I am a woman."
This young entrepreneur of the year has to run to new customers every day. She also has to review the already completed and ongoing work routinely.
Referring to the limitations that small entrepreneurs of the country face, Homayra said, "Most of the country's small entrepreneurs do not get adequate facilities. The SME sector currently needs short-term and long-term loans. It would help the sector move forward on the path of sustainable development."
She is very happy with the current progress of her business and planning business expansion in the future.
"If all goes well and I get government benefits, I hope to generate 1,000 more jobs in my company in the next 10 years," said Homayra.
Homayra already completed her MPhil degree in Sustainable Design from Sharda University, Delhi and is currently pursuing her PhD at the same university to further enhance her skills and abilities in the midst of her professional work.
Addressing young and women entrepreneurs of the country, Sohani said, "It does not matter where you are, the only thing that matters is where you want to go. You have to have a dream and that dream must be associated with relentless effort. If you can combine your dream with your efforts, success will come."
SME Foundation Chairman Dr Md Masudur Rahman told TBS that Sohani's business success has inspired small entrepreneurs in the country, especially women small and medium entrepreneurs.
"The government is keen on providing short-term and long-term collateral-free loans to SME entrepreneurs. The government is also urging banks to provide such loan facilities to small entrepreneurs," he said.