Life of a successful entrepreneur: Mr. Jahurul Islam
Posted: Dr. AR Khan | 29-Aug-2011
Jahurul Islam was one of those who have been discussed very frequently in the history of business and entrepreneurship in Bangladesh. He was born in Bhagalpur, a village iii Bajitpur thana under Kishoregonj district. His father Mr. Aftab Uddin was a tiny contractor in Mymensingh district board. His father had small income with which he used to run his business staying in his village home. His mother Mrs Rahima Aktar was a very pious housewife. She was very well known amongst her neighbors. Mr Islam lost his father in 1972. He was the second son of his parents .He had four more brothers and three sisters. Jahurul Islam had very simple and ordinary boyhood and was fond of making friends from middle class families only. He started his schooling in Chandragram local Patshala and then in the Shibnath High School. When he was a student of class five, he was sent to his uncleâ€™s house in Calcutta, where he studied in Chetla High School. But due to the transferable job of his uncle, he had to shift to a number of schools.
In 1945, he passed matriculation from Ripon High School. Later, he went to Bardwan, where he studeid I.A but he failed to pass in the final examination. In 1948, he appeared again from Haraganga College at Munshiganj. This time also he failed which brought the end of his formal education. From the very boyhood, Jahurul Islam had a knack towards carrying on independent business. He conceived the idea from his fatherâ€™s business. In 1948, he joined a job in the C&B department with a monthly salary of Tk. 77.5. Later on he became a lower division clerk in the same department with a monthly salary of Tk. 80. In 1951, after a period of two and a half years he left the job and started his business as a 3rd class contractor with a very little amount of money that he could manage. Initially, banks did not render him any financial assistance. At that time, there were a lot of works available in Bangladesh and he did his business with utmost sincerity & devotion and by 1953 he gradually became 2nd Class and then a 1st class contractor. He had very good liaison with the government authority and thereby he started getting a lot of contract jobs. He used to do all types of construction works i.e building, road, bridge, irrigation, sanitation, sewerage and many others from which he could build a lot of wealth.
He realized in the mid of 50s, that in course of time, Dacca (Dhaka) would grow very fast and would require lot of accommodation facilities. As such, he started buying lands in the city and preferably in the city outskirts where the price was very nominal. Thus, he became the owner of a huge land in the areas like Mirpur, Savar, Joydevpur, Kaliakoir, Rupashi and in many other areas. These lands were bought at a very low price. He used part of the purchased land as industrial plots and the remaining ands as housing estates. Gradually, the value of land increased and he could thus by selling lands at a higher price mobilized a lot of capital. In the sixties, during the period of president Ayub Khan, the then; government took up a lot of development works. At that period, a number of industries of various types namely Jute, Cotton etc were established Jahurul Islam, besides his construction business, set up good number of industries. In 1960, he set up a timber factory in Chittagong, glass factory in Zinzira and also a pharmaceutical industrial unit.
In his business and industries, Jahurul Islam as an entrepreneur had the best time between 1960 and 1970. His firm Bengal Development Corporation Ltd at that time constructed a lot of houses in Dhaka and Chittagong. By this experience, he realized that large number of middle class families in the cities would soon be eager to buy houses if these could be developed and constructed in the suburb areas. He inderstood that as a policy of the government, the potential buyers would most likely be financially assisted by the House Building Finance Corporation. Realizing this, in 1964 he organized Pallabi Housing Ltd on one thousand acres of land. In the project, a family could buy a flat making only Tk. 3000/ down payment and the rest amount could be repaid on installment basis. Some high priced flats were also made available. At the same time, he established Sonali Jute Mills and some other industries near Dhaka. During the period of 14 years from 1951 to 1964, the size of his investment was multiplied to several crore Taka.
Jahurul Islam was very sincere and devoted to his business commitments. During the Ayub region in 1963-64, Govt. of the then Pakistan decided to build the Parliament building but the time allowed was very short. Jahurul Islam got the contract and within 40 [forty] days he finished the construction of the Parliament building at Tejgaon near old airport. Later, he constructed a 60 room, two storied MP hostel within 35 days only. It was a unique performance in the field of construction works in a record time. He of his own used to immediately made repair or even would reconstruct without asking for any additional finance, if any defect of his work, could have been detected.
In 1970, Mr Islam got the contract of 5000 deep tube-wells. It was really a great achievement in the face of foreign competitors. After liberation, he got the proportionate share of the same contract as was due for the part of Pakistan now Bangladesh. He built the infrastructure for training and service support in the country which could not be made earlier in spite of foreign assistance. After the liberation, his business suffered some setbacks due to the governmentâ€™s nationalization policy. At that time, Jahurul Islam used his talents at home and abroad. He involved himself in construction in the Middle-East countries. In 1977, he started building 5000 houses in Abu Dhabi. In the next two decades he built thousands of houses at home and abroad. Jahurul Islam was very optimistic about the economic development of Bangladesh. He believed that use of gas, oil, leather and cheap labor could be justifiably used to enhance our income and lifestyle as well. In 1982, with Japanese assistance, he established Aftab Automobiles Ltd to assemble vehicles at Chittagong. At present, it builds bodies of different types of vehicles, especially jeeps and pick-ups that are seen on the road.
He established Bengal Development Corporation Ltd and Islam Group of Industries, the employment opportunity of which are exceeding 5000. Some of his other establishments are: Miliners Ltd, Eastern Housing Ltd, Navana Ltd. Essential Products Ltd, Dhaka Fibres Ltd, Navana Sports, Navana Industries Ltd, Millners Pump Ltd, Islam Brothersâ€™ Properties Limited, etc. Which signify the dreams of Jahurul Islam? In these establishments he had almost one hundred crore taka worth of investment.
In personal life, Jahurul Islam was very simple and economical. He didnâ€™t, have any bad habits of smoking and likewise. He used to wear very simple dress, usually pajama and serwani even while he used to move abroad. Reused to have very normal food especially rice and fish at day time and chapati at night. In every morning, he used to say, fajr prayer and after that take a nap. Then, he used to start his days routine that would take him to end mostly till midnight.
Jahurul Islam died in 1996. But the people of Bangladesh will ever remember his name because of his achievements in the field of economic development of our newly liberated country He believed in the theme of total business along with his family members He had a very positive outlook towards business He faced many difficulties in his way of business life but he successfully overcome all those with positive spirit and concerted efforts. .he never deprived any body from his due share. Even he had very positive attitude towards his competitors Besides his entrepreneurial achievements he had a lot of enthusiasm for social works and educational field as well At the end of his life in order to encourage medical education, he established in his own locality at Bajitpur the Jahurul Islam Medical College which is currently considered as a dependable college for medical learning in Bangladesh.
Source: Entrepreneurship Small Business and Lives of Successful Entrepreneurs, by Dr. AR Khan, Published by: Ruby Publication (2007)