Abul Kashem Haider, Chairman of the Youth Group was born in Mogdhara Union, Thana, Shandip, Zilla, Chittagong in 1st April 1954. His father Alhaj Sekander Hossain was an educationist and his mother Shafia Khatoon was a housewife. At that time, the education environment Of Shandip was very much discouraging. In most cases, schools & colleges were far away and there were no regular means of transport. This had negative influence among the students making high rate of drop outs. He was the 4th issue of his parents. His father was very much conscious about the children’s education. For this reason, all the brothers & sisters of Mr. Haider had to get themselves admitted into the schools and all of them were regular in their studies. Mrs Shafia Khatun like her husband was careful for the education & particularly religious orientation of the children.
In 1959, Mr Haider was in the Daiter Goo Government Primary school which was two miles away from his house. He secured scholarship in the talent pool scheme for class V and was admitted into the Sandip High School. From this Mr. Raider passed the SSC examination in First Division with four letters. Alter that, in 1969 he was admitted in HSC class in science group in the Chittagong College. He was staying in a college hostel and was enjoying 3 stipends/scholarships at a time including the one from the Board. Though due in 1971, he appeared at the HSC final examination held delayed for the war of the liberation, in the year 1973 and was placed in First division with 3 letters. In the same year, he was admitted into the Dhaka University to study honours in Soil Science. In 1979, he passed the honours final examination and in the year 1981, [exam of 1980] he secured first class in his MSc examination in Soil Science.
Mr. Raider started his practical life with a Government job as a customs Intelligent & Investigation Officer in the Anti- Corruption department of the GOB. He succeeded in arresting a big black marketer & smuggler during a few months of his job. This made many of his colleagues angry and they had been non cooperating with him in the discharge of his duties. He, therefore, left the government job in 1982 and managed another job as an administrative officer in the Rabeta Vocational Institute with a monthly salary of Tk.1500/.
While in Raheta service, he married in 1983 in Dhaka. His wife Mrs Afroza Khanam, D/o Mr Asaduzzaman, Headmaster of the Munshigonj Academy did her Hons. & Masters degree from the Dhaka University. Mr. Raider is blessed with one son and two daughters.
He started his business life from 1982 when he was employee of Rabita. He jointly started a supply business with one of his friends named Mr Altaf. After some time from this business, he succeeded in saving some money. With the money that he saved from the supply business, he hired a shop in Kalyanpur. Income from the shop and salary from the job made him somehow maintain the family. Meanwhile, a stranger who introduced himself as Feroz came to meet Mr. Haider in an evening. Mr. Feroz intimated that three of them including Razzaqul & Billah recently returned from Germany. They planned to begin a garments business but their saved money appeared to be inadequate for the purpose.
Mr Feroz further told that he had heard of Mr Haider from some of his relations about Mr Haider’ good connection with the Islami Bank Bangladesh limited [IBBL] from which they might have approached for required investment opportunity. That was how Mr. Haider made a Group with Mr. Firoz, Mr. Rezzaqul, Mr. BiIlah and started garments business with 31 machines only. The three started their business which was named as the Youth Group [YG] in 1985 was at 29 Air Port Road.
As the size of the YG was small it was difficult to secure orders from the big parties. It is therefore, YG was looking for subcontract from some big suppliers. The first of the subcontracts was had from Mr Musa, proprietor of the Bon Garments [BG]. Seeing satisfactory transaction, BG offered the YG or the first time a L/C facility of $25 000. YG thus entered in the export market and earned substantial confidence. Mr. Raider thus with greater courage wanted to expand the group to supplement their own resources, Mr Raider of YG planned to approach the IBBL for an investment facility of Tk 11 lac. IBBL without mortgage refused to extend the facility. But none of the four partners at that time had any urban land to offer to the IBEL as mortgage.
It could be remembered at some point that Razzaqul’s brother-law Mr Nur Safa at that time stayed in Dhanmondi and he had some urban land. All the four partners then went to him and requested Mr Nur Safa to become their partners and to offer his land as mortgage to manage an investment facility of tk 11 lac. from the IBBL Mr Nur Safa gladly gave the land documents to offer as mortgage but he refused to become one of the partners of the YG. That was how; YG expanded its business with IBBL’s investment facility of tk 11 lac. Thus, larger number of machinery and workforce could be arranged which enabled the YG to have bigger exports.
YG was then desperately looking for reliable foreign buyers. In the process, a Korean company known as Kion Trading Co. Ltd. [KTCL] appeared as the first direct foreign buyer from the YG. Since then till writing this report, Mr. Raider and their YG, was continuously expanding the volume of both production and exports without a major failure.
In 1984, YG established Dewan Garments in Fatullah and also in the same year bought Chowdhury Apparels (Pvt) Limited. In 1985, YG set up Panorama Printers which afterwards with the assistance & advice of the KTCL converted into Kion Trading & Packaging Industry in 1986. As there was no such industry in the country then this unit was making very satisfactory business with monopoly. In 1988, Mr. Haider’s YG managed to buy the South East Fabrics [SEE] that was located in Tangail. With aggressive efforts, the SEF was converted into 100% export oriented Towel Factory. Three years after in 1991, YG purchased the Kanchpur, Sonapur,Narayangonj Impact Thread Ltd which was exporting its 100% threads outside the country.
Two years after in 1993, YG was able to buy three more industrial units; [i] the Unicom Textile Mills Limited; [ii] Dewan Apperals and the [iii] Youth Fashions limited. In the same year , YG set up a buying house under the style Fair Deal Enterprise. In the year following , YG bought a piece of land in Sewrapara and succeeded in building its own 10-storied building known as the Youth Tower in which the Group Head Office and gradually other units of the Group were transferred. All the units of the YG since 1996 have been engaging in 100% export business. YG succeeded in exporting goods to the tune of tk. 145 crore in the financial year 1999-2000.
In 1998, YG set up the Global Beverage Company Limited [GBCL], the factory of which is located in Gazipur. The GBCL was developed in collaboration with the Virgin Group of the U K- the later allowing the former in producing & marketing four types of drinks in the local market, Virgin Cola, Virgin Orange, Virgin Lemon and Virgin Diet, YG since 1999, has been marketing these brands of beverages in the local market. YG is planning to make further access to a number of sectors like: food, medicine and mediaand the like.
Hurdles Faced & Overcome:
Mr. Haider indicated with irritation that currently, there is the need for bureaucratic formalities of loitering in 17 points to secure licenses for a factory. Frequent changes in GOB policies with regard to import- export besides industrial matters cause the entrepreneurs face newer problems. He also indicated the non-cooperation of the public offices, corruptions, bribes & kick-backs required to make the files move, political instability, poor law & order situations, the need for making regular forced subscriptions, labor troubles, port troubles, transport & communication inefficiencies as the main hurdles standing in the way of smooth industrialization of the country.
Factors that made the YG and Mr Haider Succeed:
Mr. Haider sincerely admitted that the group of four & their YG succeeded primarily because of two reasons: [a] tax- holiday & organized assistance allowed by the GOB and [b] sympathetic liberal investments provided by the IBBL.Mr. Raider confidently said that YG never failed in making timely repayments to the IBBL, never waited for reminders and undue adjustments. A number of both internal as well as external factors were also hinted by Mr. Haider for his rise as an entrepreneur: (i). Unique trusts, confidence & understanding among the partners; (ii). Austerity in using business resources by the partners rather unfailing emphasis on the continuous ploughing back of the surplus in the business; (iii). All the partners maintained cautiousness to stay away from avoidable political involvements; (iv). Maintaining a simple life style with religious flavor. (v). Careful and calculated attempts avoiding restless desire to become rich over night