From Rajshahi to the global sweaters market

Sakoatex Sweater Company in Rajshahi only entered the world market in four years with an investment of over Tk 150 crore.

The factory, established in the BSCIC industrial zone in 2017 by Enamul Haque, legislator and chairman of the Ena group, has created employment opportunities for around 1,200 residents, 80% of whom are women.

Currently, around 800 people are now working in the factory due to the Covid shocks.

Islami Bank Bangladesh now wants to invest Tk 400 crore in the factory, which will bring the number of jobs at the factory to around 10,000 over the next two years.

According to company officials, Sakoatex produces around 10,000 sweaters per day. The prices of the sweaters range between $ 25 and $ 150 per piece – most are priced at $ 65.

They said their sweaters are mainly exported to Canada and Italy.

Mostafizur Rahman, head of the yarn department at Sakoatex, said: “We import around 8-10 lakh pounds of yarn per year. Of this total, 60-65% of yarn is imported from China. We also import from Vietnam and India. However, we need to increase yarn imports in the future due to the increased demand. “

Farooq Sarkar, Production Manager of Sakoatex, said, “We have 200 automatic knitting machines imported from Japan and China each costing between $ 28,000 and $ 30,000. also said.

The factory has to transport products on trucks from Rajshahi to Chattogram for export to the destination countries. This increases the cost of transportation. Other Rajshahi exporters are also facing the same problem. To solve the problem, they demanded the establishment of a parallel railway bridge next to the Bangabandhu bridge to transport the products by train.

As the movement of trucks is stopped during Eid, they have to transport goods by air, which further increases the cost several times more.

Enamul Haque, chairman of Sakoatex, told The Business Standard: “There is a skilled worker crisis in Rajshahi. Transportation is another issue. These challenges must be met. oriented industries across the country. For this region we need 2%. Otherwise, the industry will not develop in this region.

“There is no backlink industry in Rajshahi, which is necessary. So we have to make various parts of sweaters such as zippers and buttons in our factory,” he added. .

Initially, no one wanted to invest in Sakoatex because investors were worried about the success of this project. But the situation has now changed. Islami Bank has already offered to invest around Tk400 crore in the plant. If all goes well, work on the second phase of Sakoatex will begin, he said.

“The gas connections to industrial facilities have been very beneficial to us. Once the railway bridge is built, many large industrialists will invest in the Rajshahi region.

For this, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina established Rajshahi BSCIC Industrial City-2. In the neighborhood, there are opportunities in various sectors, including food and construction. But for that, bank loans and other support are essential, ”he added.

Enamul Haque added that if the factory expands, it will be possible to export more sweaters to many countries. Many people want to work in the sweater factory instead of going to Dhaka to find a job.

“This factory gave me the opportunity to earn money in Rajshahi. The working environment of Sakoatex is very good. It is suitable for women. Women become empowered by working here, ”said a factory worker named Mili Akhter.

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