After losing the job as a worker in a factory, MA Mannan, along with his wife, started producing chalks and pencils in 1998 with a capital of Tk250.
Now, it is a factory on 20,000 square feet at the BSCIC Industrial City in Pabna -- named Prince Chemical Limited -- which sees an annual turnover of around Tk80 crore.
However, the owners never forgot the initial struggles they had to go through to attain success. Keeping it in mind, they have always tried to help destitute people become self-reliant by providing them with jobs.
Thus, the small-scale industry has appeared as a great boon for dozens of women and physically-challenged people as it employed them mostly. Currently, it has 116 employees, while nearly 100 are women or physically challenged.
In a recent visit to the factory, workers were found working in four sections. The foreman of the factory was a woman who was instructing everyone.
"The work environment is very good here. The management treats us with generosity. The wage is also rational," Parul Rani Saha, a differently-abled woman worker, told this correspondent.
"One of our colleagues named Shahida Khatun who is also physically challenged has recently got married after becoming self-reliant," she said while adding the factory changed the fate of many women, particularly differently-abled ones.
"The management does not make any discrimination although we are less capable physically. There is no pressure from its side. We are paid equally," said Soma, another worker of the factory.
Apart from the factory, the company has two depots in Dhaka and Chattogram for marketing their products – soap pencil, soap chalk, glass marking pencil, tailor's chalks, and English chalks, etc
The goods produced in the factory in Pabna are transported to the depots and the dealers supply them to the buyers as per demand.
Journey of Mannan
MA Mannan, co-founder and managing director of Prince Chemical, started his career as a worker in the design and printing section of a textile company in BSCIC Industrial City in 1987. He worked there till 1998 on a very small salary. The factory was shut down due to financial losses.
After losing the job, Mannan started making chalk pencils using local raw materials with the help of his wife and started selling their products at local tailor shops.
The demand for the products increased gradually due to their quality. Once, they got a bank loan of Tk5 lakh.
"I employed some workers after getting several orders from garment factories," M A Mannan told The Business Standard. It was a turning point in his business.
Later, they made contracts with some dealers to deliver products. Currently, the factory is supply accessories to different garments factories including Tushka Fashions in Tongi and Al Muslim Garments in Savar, he said.
In the beginning, most of the accessories of the garments industry of the country were imported from China, resulting in higher production costs.
"That is why the Prince Chemical Company took the initiative to produce marker chalk and pencils that are extensively used in the garments," he added.
He received the National Productivity and Quality Excellence Award in 2012 and 2015 for his achievements in business. He was also awarded the President Industrial Development Award 2014.
In 2017, he was nominated for the BID Quality Convention, Geneva.
"Prince Chemical has reached this stage through hard work from the beginning. We provide them with all kinds of facilities what we do for others," Rafiqul Islam, deputy general manager of Pabna BSCIC Industrial City, told the TBS.