Footwear factories are forced to sell products to middlemen at low prices, and that affects both producers and consumers. At the same time, it is a barrier to the development of a promising industry.
On top of that, the factories are scattered across the area, and this is having a serious impact on human health and on the environment.
This information came to light through a survey by the students of the Entrepreneurial Economics of Dhaka School of Economics.
There are 8,000 factories in Bhairab. Students from the Programme of Entrepreneurship Economics of the school visited a number of them at Kamalpur in Bhairab recently.
An initial report of the survey said that the small factories have been set-up in an unplanned manner. The people who work there have limited technical knowledge and hence cannot make quality products. Furthermore, female workers are paid very low wages.
These entrepreneurs have no option but to sell their products to middlemen at a low price. They get between BDT 1,000 and BDT 1,500 for every 12 pairs of shoes.
Whereas, every pair of these shoes sell for between BDT 300 and BDT 600 in the capital and elsewhere across the country. Most of the profit goes into the pockets of middlemen.
The survey found that the entrepreneurs have no concept of the detrimental effects of the raw material they use. They are unaware that the leather waste, plastic and foam being used or discarded are health and environmental hazards. The workers handle this material without using safety gear.
Furthermore, the factories dump their untreated waste under the open sky, thereby causing serious environmental pollution.
The coordinator of the Entrepreneurship Economics programme , Professor Dr Mohammad Mahboob Ali said, “The footwear industry is still small, but has been developing by the POPI(People’s Oriented Program Implementation) Enterprises with the initiative of Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) . Though the entrepreneurs have no vocational knowledge and no idea about supply chain management but under the shoe cluster programme ,they are progressing of Promoting Agricultural Commercialization and Enterprises (PACE)programme of PKSF .”
However, he added that like other businesses this is benefiting middlemen. “PKSF through their excellence supervising system will develop the shoe industry with the time span properly of this initiative of POPI Enterprise. It will help the local industry to grow, and will create employment and eradicate poverty.”