|by Naim-Ul-karim, Liu Chuntao, Yi Ling
DHAKA, March 24 (Xinhua) — On the outskirts of the Bangladesh capital, over 5,000 workers are busy on the production lines in a factory, while their children are reading aloud at a school nearby.
The scenes are no strange to Pauline Ngan, founder of the factory, Unimas Sportswear Limited, a Bangladesh plant of Mainland Headwear Holding Limited, one of the world’s largest headwear producer.
The company started up in Shenzhen, south China’s Guangdong Province, a pilot city for China’s reform and opening-up policy. In 2000, it was listed in Hong Kong, where Ngan was born. She established the factory in 2013 in light of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The BRI, proposed by China in 2013, aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa on and beyond the ancient Silk Road routes. The initiative comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
Located in a little-known village named Bagbari, about a half hour’s drive away from Dhaka, the factory currently produces about 120,000 hats everyday for high street brands including NBA, shipping them to the markets around the world and immensely benefiting the Bangladesh people.”SUPER VILLAGE” RISING FROM JUNGLE
“I could never forget the day when we arrived at Bagbari by oxcart,” said Ngan, who is also vice chairperson of the listed company.
“We’re (now) planning to put up street lamps to light up the road for our workers to go home in the evening,” she said, looking out of her office window, where lorries of products are sent out on the road outside the factory, which has recently been built by the company.
As a bold entrepreneur eager to expand business territory beyond China, Ngan went out to do preliminary investigations for a new plant along the Belt and Road route, and finally set eyes on Bagbari for its good location as well as its abundant and preferential human resources.
“We started with some 200 workers. It’s been a long journey to come this far,” she said, looking out at the village, previously home to 300 people, mostly farmers who often sought odd jobs at Dhaka.
Nowadays, there are some 10,000 people living here, most of whom are workers of the hat factory. With more and more people flowing into the village, Mohammad Abdul Jalil, a villager who witnessed the great changes over the years, sees new business opportunities.
“I built a house on my own land and rented it out to the factory people. There is now also a private school, which we could never believe could be available before,” he said.
“People of this area were extremely poor and there were very poor road communications. This was almost jungle area,” said Mohammad Shariful Islam, who is also in the rental business. “The entire area developed a lot following the establishment of the factory. We are all happy.”
The development of the factory has also transformed Bagbari into a commercially-vibrant super village, as a new commercial street emerges just outside the factory with sewing training centers run by locals for new comers seeking jobs in Bagbari.
“Who can imagine just six years ago, there was only one small store at the factory gate?” said Li Fuming, senior manager of the factory.
Mohammad Saidur Rahman Liton, a local vendor who used to work as a day laborer, started a fruit store here two years ago. “I have a good sales every evening when the factory workers get off work. My brother is also working in this factory,” he said with a big smile.
EMPLOYMENT CHANGES LIFE
STORIES TO CONTINUE