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A Successful Woman Entreprenur of Bangladesh

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Rokeya Afzal Rahman comes from a very conservative, aristocratic Muslim family. Her father was the biggest inspiration in her childhood. He used to tell them he would give them the best asset of life that is education. The girls in their family even had governess coming at home and teach them. Her father was the first man who sent his daughters to school. He used to tell them that school is a part of life. It's not just books and studies. He used to tell them that a school is needed to mix with other students, to interact and differentiate between the bad company and the good company. His sending them to school was an important part of his philosophy in bringing up a child. And that was the total education more than just a book education. And she thought that was very important.

Her family was a really a big one. They had 12 brothers and sisters. Her parents made her help her younger brothers and sisters in their studies they were taught.

She was never differentiated that she was a girl and her brothers were boys. The only differentiation was that she was sent to girl's school and girl's college.


Rokeya Afzal Rahman was born in Calcutta. She had spent a very brief period in Loreto convent Calcutta for two months before they went to Karachi. She was in Karachi in Saint Joseph convent school and college. Straight from college she got an opportunity to join a bank.


Rokeya Afzal Rahman didn't get a role model at that time. Her father encouraged her in that way. He really supported her all through her young age. He saw her and her brother doing the same studies. He realized that a woman could the same things, which a man can do. Her mother also used to take her education in a positive way. Now she has developed her career and status and her own business. Her mother realized that a woman has also the potential. She encouraged her daughters to build up their career. She told them for their own self-respect they need to study. She supported her two daughters. Actually her working and also doing well changed her mother's idea and views. Before that she was not optimistic and later on she was more positive. Her father was very supportive all the time.


Rokeya Afzal Rahman started her career in a commercial bank in 1962 when very few women had entered banks universally. She became the first woman bank manager of the country in 1964. She later became a sponsor Director in Midas Financing Limited, Director in Reliance Insurance Ltd. Mrs. Rahman served as a Director in the Central Bank of Bangladesh as a member of the board for three years.

While working in the bank she took all technical education. She had one-year technical training in banking which included accounting, bookkeeping. After that they had to take another exam called the institute of bankers in Pakistan. Her technical education was financial banking. It was Muslim commercial Bank. While doing the job over there she was getting paid, she got her training. She joined the bank in 1962. They opened a branch and she was number two in that branch. It was a ladies branch. From there they transferred her to East Pakistan Dhaka in 1964 and she became the first women's bank manager. She took a group of women under her and trained them and they became her professionals.


When Rokeya Afzal Rahman was at the bank there were no women in bank in Bangladesh. While she was in a meeting there were 400 men and she was the only women and it never occurred to her that she was any less than any man. She could do the same balance sheets that the men do. It gave her a feeling of confidence. They used to respect her and listened to her. When she was in a bank the environment was good. She really didn't face any problem doing work in the bank. They never discriminated her as she was a woman.


Rokeya Afzal Rahman was not satisfied working from home, so when her children reached their teens she started her cold storage business. In I980 Mrs. Rahman ventured into her own agro based industry. RR Cold Storage Limited dealing with potatoes imports exports and storage of seed and table potatoes. She expanded her business manifold. Subsequently she bought another agro industry. As Chair and CEO of two agro industries Mrs. Rahman works with 15000 small farmers who need support during harvesting season. She facilitates loans to farmers by standing as guarantor to a commercial bank taking loans for them and retailing the loan to them. Her business has given her widespread appreciation. She has received several awards from Banks and chambers.

Mrs. Rahman has diversified her business and is now in media, insurance, real estate and power sector.

 Media

Rokeya Afzal Rahman is the chairperson of Mediaworld Limited the owning company of The Daily Star, director shareholder in Mediastar, and shareholder director in ABC Radio.

 Real Estate

Mrs. Rahman has developed and sold many industrial plots and some housing plots in the real estate business.

 Development

Mrs. Rahman was invited to the board of Midas and later Midas Financing Ltd, organizations which support enterprise and industrial development. Through Midas

Mrs. Rahman has initiated several innovative programs for the growth of entrepreneurship development in Bangladesh.

 Women entrepreneurs can borrow up to taka one million as collateral free loan.

 Marketing outlets in the name. And style of Mini Marts were developed and opened.

 Working capital loans were introduced during festival season as Festival Loan to facilitate women doing business in apparel and food.

 Women 2 women support program, designed to develop potential women entrepreneurs. In this program a new entrepreneur is matched with an existing women entrepreneur



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