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Beyond a family business

Article - November 14, 2012
Mohammadi Group, one of the leading garment manufacturers in Bangladesh today, has broadened its base to include various other lines of business
If Bangladesh’s ready-made garment (RMG) sector ever had a cheap connotation tied to it, it is well on its way out, thanks to the efforts of high-quality manufacturers such as Mohammadi Group (MG).

“It’s time for Bangladesh to re-brand itself as a producer of higher value added items,” says the group’s Chairman, Annisul Huq, adding that the entrepreneurs of the RMG sector have risen above the challenges of natural disasters and labor issues to sustain growth in the sector. “Nothing deters our spirit. The resilience comes from our need to survive and compete in today’s world with excellence,” he says.

MG was initially established in 1986 by four friends who scraped together just enough capital, with 52 people working a two-line factory in the Lalbagh area of Dhaka. “We had no cash to invest, so I borrowed money from my father’s pension account, my friends pawned their wives’ jewelry and a cousin decided to fund a portion,” recalls Mr. Huq.

In the mid-90s, the four partners split the business, each setting up their own garment manufacturing companies. Mr. Huq went into business with his wife Rubana, who serves as MG’s Managing Director. Their son, Navid, runs the sweater division.

From these humble origins nearly 30 years ago, the group has expanded into a 26-line business that produces monthly 750,00 pieces of ready-made woven garments, 300,000 sweaters, and 250,000 pieces of lingerie. The group’s portfolio of international customers includes some of the most recognized names in Europe and the U.S.

Not only is Mr. Huq at the helm of a thriving company, he is also a prominent figure in the business community, having served as President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers Exporters Association (BGMEA), President of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), and President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).

“Leading all these organizations helped me gain a better vision of a global business scene and my roles enabled me to look beyond just my company,” he says.
Mr. Huq’s vision has led him to look beyond the RMG sector and to diversify into IT, power, media and real estate. He even plans to enter agriculture soon.

His firm Technovista is one of the largest software and IT services companies in Bangladesh, and has gone into partnership with a Danish company to open Boarding Vista Ltd, an IT and DTP service solution provider. In the energy sector, MG co-owns two 110MW power plants with Desh Energy. In other areas, MG Properties Ltd. focuses on providing one-stop services – all the way through to interior design.

Business aside, the group is also concerned with the human aspect. MG’s Sharaf’er Pathshala School provides free education to the factory workers’ children. “My goal is to replicate this initiative in all of our factories and to cajole a few of our colleagues to set up a similar school in their manufacturing units, as well,” says Mr. Huq.