Anwar Hossain, 74, cannot think of retiring anytime soon as stopping working will mean the fall of the curtain on his long and distinguished career.
The chairman of Anwar Group of Industries, the country's one of the best-known conglomerates, said the goal of his early life of creating as many jobs for his countrymen as possible has not changed at all.
Today, the company has business interests in areas such as garments, textiles, crockery, spinning, tins, cement, jute and jute products, sweater, plastic, tea, automobiles, education, and real estate -- employing more than 14,000 people.
"I always wanted to create jobs for my countrymen. I am not happy with 14,000 workers. I want to make it 25,000," he said.
Although he now employs thousands of people, he learnt the basics of the business from a friend of his elder brother, working for him for around six months.
Anwar used to divide his time between Islamia High School and the family businesses. He attended school up to 1pm. From midday he concentrated on the business at Chawkbazar, where he also used to have his lunch and take private tuition in the evening.
It took only five years for Anwar to understand the nitty-gritty of the business. "I always thought how I can better the business. I was a child but I worked better than an adult."
In 1953, he started garments business -- Anwar Cloth Store -- in Chawkbazar.
In 1956, he set up Sunshine Cable and Rubber Industry, the first Bengali-controlled industry in Pakistan.
Later he quit the business leaving it in the hands of his uncle and brothers.
He did a good business and earned a lot of money until 1958, when General Ayub Khan declared martial law. Anwar made a declaration of his wealth and opened an income tax file. He was only about 20 years old at that time, which raised eyebrows from many.
He also took help from a visually challenged person, Mohammad Hafiz, one of the top businessmen at that time. Hafiz had jute and textile mills in both West and East Pakistan.
Anwar used to buy yarn from his factory and sell those in Narayanganj and other places.
By the time he met Hafiz, Anwar had nine shops. Hafiz asked him to set up a factory instead of relying on shops.
Anwar bought a power loom and many other associated machinery from the East Pakistan Small Industries Corporation, which is now Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation. In 1966, he set up a factory, Anwar Silk Mills, in Tongi to make banarasi saris.
He produced "Mala Sari" which was an instant hit. Since then, he never looked back. A number of other companies added to his name.
Later he bought machines to manufacture cutlery spoon and crockery from enamel at Monowar Industries Private Ltd in Tejgaon, his first venture in the independent Bangladesh.
"I worked day and night since 1962," he said.
Anwar initiated the process to set up the country's first private bank. He along with a group of businesspeople from Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry was able to convince the then government in 1978 that the country needs private banks.
A former director of the DCCI, Anwar later set up The City Bank Ltd and City Insurance Ltd.
Anwar, who won a parliamentary seat in the 1988 polls as an independent candidate, said he is happy as he has been able to prepare his three sons to run the Group. Responsibilities have been equally distributed among them.
He still attends office at Baitul Hossain in Motijheel, the headquarters of the Group, until 5pm and visits factories later. He regularly talks with workers to know how they are doing.
The Group spends generously as part of its corporate social responsibility. It has set up eye hospital, maternity centre, daycare centre for 250 children, orphanage, madrasas, primary schools and high schools.
The Group finances about 95 charities. Anwar now plans to set up a diabetes hospital in his locality, as there is no such facility in Old Dhaka.
Anwar thanked his mother and his wife for standing beside him all the time. Written by Md Fazlur Rahman