Rana Laila Hafiz is a woman entrepreneur in the Bangladesh RMG sector. She is the daughter of Mr. Hafiz Ahmed Majumdar (MP) who is one of the pioneers of the garments industries in Bangladesh. Rana completed her higher studies from Dhaka University in English in 1997 and joined her family business. Over the last 24 years, she not only learned the business but also developed vast knowledge, expertise and skill in this sector. At present, she is the Managing Director of Trouser Line Ltd. & SP Garments Ltd. She is now contesting as a candidate for the upcoming BGMEA elections from the Forum Panel. Recently she shared her experience and observations regarding the present situation and about leadership in this sector with the Textile Focus team. Key discussion points are mentioned below-
I want to work on the board in making BGMEA stronger and accountable and at the same time take this industry to the next level.
Rana Laila Hafiz, Managing Director, Trouser Line Ltd. &
Candidate for the upcoming BGMEA Election 2021-2023
Q: How are you observing the COVID-19 situation in our industry?
Rana Laila: COVID is a global issue and as such we are all affected by it. From the business point of view, the global economy has been hampered and we need to think differently from the other countries. We export to the European, American, Russian and Japanese markets. But the COVID situation has resulted in a drop in orders from the buyers, which has greatly affected us. From the health point of view, ‘Safety First’ is the main concern now. We are working by maintaining safety issues. Luckily, our infection rate is less compared with other countries. Our government has been taking good steps resulting in both a good economic growth rate compared to other developing countries and vaccines and COVID treatment. And as such we are able to maintain our business.
Q: What inspired you or how you came to this business?
Rana Laila: My father Mr. Hafiz Ahmed Majumdar is one of those who first started the garments business in Bangladesh. He started his business in 1979 with Shapla Garments Ltd. From a young age I was always mesmerized by business discussions at home and I guess this greatly influenced my decision to do business. Over the years I learned of pros and cons, successes and failures, obstacles etc. regarding business. After finishing my studies I finally joined my father’s company. Since 2009 I have been involved with the current factories. As the Managing Director, I am now running our companies with skilled manpower, advanced technology and ‘Can Do’ attitude.
Q: Second generation is coming into the industry, how do you see this?
Rana Laila: This is good that the second generation is coming into the business. Our first-generation worked relentlessly to establish this industry. Today Bonded facilities, LC, shipment procedures and other different policies have come into being because of the First Generation. They had to face many challenges in setting up a totally new sector. Today their endeavor is Bangladesh’s no.1 income from Exports. As part of the second generation, I believe it’s up to us to take this even further. With education and modern business knowledge, I believe this is quite achievable. Before, this sector was heavily dependent on foreign expertise in keys positions, but today we can be proud of local experts. We have meritorious textile graduates who are very quick learners and pro-active. We are developing our own teams with our people. Most of the top persons of the top buying houses are now run by Bangladeshis. At the same time, the mindset of the owners has also changed; they are offering competitive and handsome packages to truly deserving candidates. That’s why I can see huge opportunities for the second generation to work on further developments.
Q. What is the present scenario of your business?
Rana Laila: At present we have Trouser Line Ltd, SP Garments Ltd. and a washing factory. We are dealing with Causal Wear, Bottoms and Kids Wear. We also set up a washing factory to support our garments factories. Currently, we have over 3000 people employed at our factories. We are maintaining a highly safe working environment during this COVID pandemic. We have set up our own R&D department to work on further development in the diversified product. At the same time, we are working on new market development. Compliance and safety issue is a major concern at our factories.
Q. What inspired you to join BGMEA leadership?
Rana Laila: In our countrywoman participation in business is comparatively less. As I have been working for a long time in this industry, I believe I am capable to work for significant development for the industry. For this, BGMEA is the right place. Our present BGMEA president is a woman and she handled the industry crisis during the COVID pandemic in a very pragmatic way. If I am elected, I will work for the betterment of BGMEA. I will do my best to carry out the responsibilities assigned by the board. Personally, I want an accountable BGMEA who will work for the betterment of the industry, work on policy support with both the government and buyers, negotiate with buyers, and at the same time develop new markets. I strongly believe we can achieve $50B exports very soon.