Silk Roads Consulting

Interview on “The Prestige Megazine”

Q. Let’s start with your short introduction.

I grew up in Chattogram city, where I completed my schooling from Chittagong Government High School and high school from Ispahani Public School & College. Later, I completed Graduation majoring in Marketing from North South University, Dhaka.

I am a workaholic, I find happiness in working, generating, and developing business ideas into reality. I enjoy getting involved in different organizations and social works and believe in making a difference in the community through welfare works, training, and charity.  I am the Founder President of Chittagong Khulshi Club Ltd which now has 1000+ members and is considered one of the prestigious social clubs of Chittagong. The club will soon be shifted to its own location where a 100crore worth of construction work is running for Club house, swimming pool and other recreational facilities. I’m a sports enthusiast and involved in Dhaka Brothers Union and Chittagong Brothers Union Cricket, where I’ve been the President for the last 10 years. Brothers Union had famous National Level Players like Tamim, Aftab, Nazimuddin and many more playing for the team. I’m also the Vice-Chairman of Chattogram Jela Krira Shangstha (CJKS) Cricket Committee. I am the Chief Coordinator of Chess Federation and councilor of Bangladesh Cricket Board.   I am the chairman of ‘Borshoboron Parishad’ which is responsible for the celebration of Pohela Boishakh and also I am the Secretary-General of ‘Ekushey Boimela’. I am the chief advisor of the Kaler Kontho Pathok Forum. I am a follower of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and a member of Awami Jubo League under the leadership of our Chairman, Sheikh Fazle Shams Porosh. I was also a member of Bangladesh Awami League International Affairs Committee.

I am into playing golf and cricket whenever I get time.

Q. Give us a short glimpse of your professional career.

My family business, Borotakia Group is a renowned business organization in Chattogram which was established in 1989. We used to import commercial trucks and buses mostly and distributed them throughout the country. The company imported Tata Bus and Trucks till 2002 and from 2003 the company started distribution of Eicher Trucks and Buses. The first human hauler concept of the country which was called ‘Maxi’ was introduced by the Borotakia group in Dhaka. The small pickup trucks were converted into human haulers.

I joined the family business while I was studying at University in Dhaka and every Wednesday I would travel from Dhaka to Ctg by road to be able to work in the office and factory during weekends and return on Saturday nights to do classes on Sundays.  I was working as an Executive of the company and didn’t have any workstation or designated office for me because I was treated like an inexperienced and unpaid intern – this very experience made me realize that I am not entitled to positions without hard work and contribution to the company. Later on, in 2009, I was promoted to be the Managing Director of the company after I proved myself for the position.

In the year 2012, I started my own ventures separated from family businesses and started working on the automation of Ports in Chattogram, Mongla and Payra. This involves container handling, equipment, operations and total maintenance that controls the whole ecosystem of the port. We are supplying, operating and maintaining the equipments in ports and it is contributing to the economy of our country.

Q. Tell us what JCI is about and its activities.

JCI is a non-profit organization and the members are joining this organization out of curiosity and enthusiasm and when I joined JCI I also did so for similar reasons and over the span of 10years it became an integral part and passion for me. In Bangladesh, 65% of the total population are below the age of 45 and they don’t have any other established Youth platform other than JCI for social connectivity, awareness and self-development. It’s a very productive platform for youth for networking, socializing and establishing well connectivity amongst professionals from different fields and job sectors both locally and globally. For example, the members in JCI can attend conferences in different countries which later helped them to connect with professionals around the world and have built a bridge of idea exchange, entrepreneurship and skill development. In JCI there’s a huge amount of opportunities and we focus mostly on individual training and development of the members to have a positive impact on our community. We have 18 chapters now and each chapter works on a different project. We organize Professional Training Sessions, Events and Seminars on different occasions and current issues. All the members are well-educated and working professionals. JCI works to build networks of active citizens for the welfare of the community and country.

Q. How did your journey with JCI begin? What put you forward for the role of National President at JCI?

I joined JCI in 2011. I became a chapter director in JCI Dhaka East. Later on in 2012, I founded a new and first-ever JCI Chapter in Chattogram named JCI Chittagong Cosmopolitan. In later years I went on to become a director in JCI National and also a National General Legal Council (NGLC), National Vice President, National Executive Vice President. Special Assistant to the National President and finally elected the National President of JCI Bangladesh for the year 2021. This year, for the first time in 22years of JCI in Bangladesh__ a proper Election process was set and I was Elected through majority votes for the position of National President of Junior Chamber Bangladesh. However, this Election was not an easy one because I left JCI in 2018. That year I was supposed to be the President of Junior Chamber Bangladesh but I withdrew the nomination upon request of the senior past Presidents because another candidate begged for that position as he was turning 40years the next year and he will not be able to run for the President post in 2019. So, I was advised by the seniors to run for the President post of this organization in 2019.  I, having a true and honest sportsmanship attitude and brotherhood approach towards my fellow Jaycees _agreed to such requests and I was told that another senior post of ‘Deputy National president’ would be available in’ General Assembly’ and I should be taking up that position until next year’s Presidential Selection. But to my shock, due to internal conspiracy, I was not offered that position in General Assembly or any other post at all in the National Governing Board in 2019. So, I left without uttering a word against such betrayal because I did not have the negative energy to waste my time on conspiracies and I had too many other engagements to attend to in my career. But in 2020, there was a crisis in the leadership of JCI and the Local presidents confided in me for consultation. They expressed the need for better leadership and they wanted me to run for the National President post which obviously came as a pleasant surprise and such Honor. But I already moved too further into my Professional and Political career and too away from the activities of JCI, I did not have the time and schedule for the responsibilities of the President of this organization. But they were reluctant and stood strong to their words and convinced me to take leadership and rebuild JCI, Bangladesh to its previous glory. The local presidents are the heart of JCI and I could not dishearten them, my fellow Jaycees and was convinced to take a stand for their and the organization’s sake.

Super-fast forward to election day in December’2020, a proper election was held first time in 22years of Junior Chamber Bangladesh. I got the majority of the votes and was elected the National President of JCI, Bangladesh supported by a highly talented National Governing Board and Local Presidents.

Q. Being the National President, what goals would you like to accomplish this year?

Most of it depends on the pandemic. If the situation worsens then many of our activities might be halted or canceled. Despite all challenges and obstacles, we strongly wish and have planned to organize an Entrepreneurship Summit and a job fair. Our members will be able to showcase their products and services at the events and there will be investors and financial institutions who will help them to gather their seed funds. The FBCCI and Awami Jubo League have also expressed their interest to launch this program jointly. If everything goes well, we plan to launch it in June. This event is solely focused on young entrepreneurs and such an event has never been organized at JCI before. There will be a workshop as well where the stakeholders from Government and well-known institutions will be present and will discuss with the young entrepreneurs about the possibilities and opportunities. We plan to then submit these discussions and findings to different ministries or organizations or even in banks so that we can come up with a proper solution to the problems and grab opportunities where available. We want the entrepreneurs to have easy loan facilities, plots in the economic zone, and many other facilities so that they are encouraged to do business. Apart from this, we are organizing various events from time to time. We have organized the ‘Women of Inspiration 2021’ where we awarded some of the top leaders and entrepreneurs of the country. We are also planning to launch the JCI academy where there will be professional training sessions for our members. There will be a ‘youth conclave’ program where stakeholders from various organizations will discuss with the youths on challenges and opportunities. Our flagship program ‘10 Outstanding Youth Persons Award’ is held every year where we recognize the person for his/her effort. The Awardees are all below the age of 40. There are also various other events and activities planned throughout the year.

Q. Since JCI is an international organization, how do you differentiate the activities and projects of Bangladesh with other countries?

Junior Chamber International focuses its efforts on projects that support the economy and well-being. RISE is the JCI’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic from an economic perspective. RISE stands for Rebuild, Invest, Sustain, Evolve.   The projects run by JCI in different countries depend on that country’s economy, culture, political and societal situation. For example, _ Bangladesh is a developing country, our economy is very different from any other ‘developed country’__ hence, we focus more on skill development and entrepreneurship projects and workshops whereas in developed countries the projects or workshops are focused more on professional networking or seminars. That’s why we are planning on events and projects such as ‘Youth Conclave’, ‘Entrepreneurship Summit’  and ‘Job Fair’. Also, for mental wellbeing projects which are part of the RISE initiative by JCI, the cultural aspects and approaches vary from country to country. In our country, it is still considered taboo to talk about mental health problems, so our projects are designed in such a way which is empathetic and respectful of our culture and norms.

Q. How is JCI different from other social organizations? What opportunities is it offering the youths?

JCI is different because it comprises mainly of youth aged 18 years to 40years, most of the members are well educated and are professionals from diverse sectors. It is a global platform for professional networking and building active young citizens. That’s mainly the difference between JCI and other organizations. JCI mostly works with people under the age of 40. JCI is the platform where you’ll be able to develop your leadership skills quite effectively. For a specific project or event, the Convener and the team deal with different stakeholders and face different challenges and comes up with a solution and execute the event or project that’s how the members learn hands-on and gather experience and develop social, organizational and leadership skills. This development is a process which is not written in the books, it is something that comes with experience and when one is practically facing it and taking part in the activities. Last February, We organized ‘The Presidential Mezban and family day out which was the first time in JCI Bangladesh. Here, not only the members but also their families were able to take part in the event. After ‘Presidential Mezban’, our member pool has increased. Similarly, if we arrange the entrepreneurship summit or the job fair, that would be very beneficial for the members. Even if a few entrepreneurs are benefitted from the summit, it will be an achievement. We may not be able to take responsibility for all the youths of our country but we can at least help the members of JCI for their growth and development.

Q. How do you see the position of our youth today and what advice do you have for them?

In my life, there are 3 people who inspired me to be in this position now. My mother, my wife, and my daughter. In 2010, I had a major fallout with my father due to the business’ management and I resigned from Borotakia Group and left everything behind. I got married at that time and with the beginning of a new chapter in my life and with new professional ventures everything was quite challenging for me. I was unable to ask for help from anyone as I did not want to disclose my personal troubles. In 2013, when my daughter was born I was unable to bear the hospital expenses and I was at a loss. I couldn’t even ask for help from any family members either, not even the closed ones. But eventually, I was able to sort everything out and cleared all the expenses. The reason I said all this is because it’s important to be patient and consistent. When you have patience, consistency and determination, everything will eventually work out. I started off with a mere capital of 20lac taka to start a business and from there, now I’m managing businesses of about a thousand crore taka. All this was possible because I was patient and determined. There’s no alternative to patience.  In this competitive fast-paced world, we give up easily but we want to achieve things fast. Nothing in life will come easily unless your goal is set, and you are patient, consistent and determined. Patience is like prayer. I held my patience and was determined to build my own empire without depending on anyone. Money and fame are temporary but one has to be patient and hardworking.  Consistency, honesty towards work and patience _ are important for self-development.

Q. What is your own vision for the future and who supported you the most throughout your journey?

Since I am already involved in politics and I want to work for our country and contribute to the development of society. I have joined the team of ‘Nagad’ the digital financial service,  as one of the Directors, which is doing quite well already and I would like to work more for our team to make it the best in the country. I believe in the power of our Youth and want to support and build them through my works, organizations and entrepreneurship.

Since I am already involved in politics and I want to work for our country and contribute to the development of society. I have joined the team of ‘Nagad’ the digital financial service,  as one of the Directors, which is doing quite well already and I would like to work more for our team to make it the best in the country. I believe in the power of our Youth and want to support and build them through my works, organizations and entrepreneurship.The one person who supported me through thick and thin consistently is my beloved Wife _ Tasmina Ahmed Sraboni. During all those hard and challenging times of my life, she encouraged me to go the extra mile and achieve anything I wanted. She is my best friend and she gave me my biggest inspiration in life _ my two children.