Minister Hi-Tech Park Ltd is one of the latest additions to Bangladesh’s tech boom and an important testimony of the country’s growing footprint in the global tech industry.
After a sweeping success in the local market, the tech company is now gearing up to export its home appliances to different countries, defying the adversities posed by the global coronavirus pandemic. Founded in 2013, Minister Hi-Tech Park Limited has been producing world-class home entertainment and home appliance items.MA Razzak Khan, Chairman and Managing Director of Minister Hi-Tech Park Ltd, shared his vision and aspiration to make ‘Minister’ as a global brand in an exclusive interview with Daily Sun Business Editor Md Shamim Jahangir.
DS: Tell us about your product line.
Our company produces CRT Television, LED Television, Refrigerator, Air Conditioner, Fan, Iron, Rice Cooker, Induction Chula, Toaster, Blender, Washing Machine and Sandwich Maker and many more products are in pipeline to be introduced in the market gradually.
DS: What is your company’s market philosophy?
We always consider the purchasing power of the common people and developing our design at the highest level of ethical standard. Our dream is to export our product all over the world, and to provide ECO-friendly products and to implement the highest standard of corporate and social responsibilities.
At present we have been able to create employment for tens of thousands of people. Our goal is to create employment for one lakh people in the next 10 years by 2030.DS: As a local brand, what opportunities you see in the global market?
Before the Covid-19 situation, we worked hard to go for exports. But as a result of the Corona attack, all kinds of business activities have stopped. But before that, a large 10-member team from Turkey visited our factory. I have also worked on exports to countries like Nepal, Ireland, Dubai, USA. We have finished all kinds of preliminary work. Now we are waiting for the current situation to be normal. After that, we will be able to give a more structured formation to our export sector.
DS: How did it all start for you?
From my family history, I was pretty sure I will be a businessman. My grandfather was a businessman. This trend transferred from my grandfather to my father and then I continued the family trend. My business role model is my father and I always follow him. Many of our cabinet ministers have helped me in many ways and have stood by me as guides.
Responded before the name of the product as Minister, he said actually, Minister means working for the people. This is the name we liked when I went to choose a new name for the company. And a brand called President is already famous. So I thought the word minister was perfect for us.
The Prime Minister visited our pavilion twice and asked me the same question --what is the reason for giving the name of the Minister? I gave the same answer to the PM. She was glad and laughed at my answer. She is quite optimistic about our brand. She asked that our products should be exported outside the country.
DS: How the Covid-19 crisis affected your business?
Responded about Business barriers and ways to overcome COVID-19 crisis, Razzak said, the shock of the Corona situation has hit the world economy hard. Our country is no exception. But even after that, there was stagnation like 3 months ago. Not so now. Our Hon'ble Prime Minister has provided incentives for all business sectors in our country. Alhamdulillah, we have received the expected help from the Prime Minister. Also, we have all been able to run all the wheels together to turn our economy. But the banks do not want to go for any new investment. So, it is an issue for all entrepreneurs. We should all work together to overcome this problem.
Due to the Corona situation, the purchasing power of everyone, especially the middle class, lower-middle-class, and lower class, has decreased a lot. Retail and medium traders are having a difficult time because no one has been able to do business for the last five months due to the lockdown.
For all these reasons, sales did not turn out as expected during Eid-ul-Azha, which is considered the season for selling refrigerators. Minister's target is to sell about 100,000 refrigerators which are far behind the target like everyone else. We have achieved about 50 per cent of our target. But things are getting better now, and the purchasing power of people will also increase day by day. The sales will increase which will make the business more dynamic. We are all going through a transition period. If we cooperate with each other and stand by everyone's side and face this challenge together, I believe we will gradually move beyond this difficult time and gradually move towards the golden age of good times.
DS: What inspired you to come back to Bangladesh from Singapore and become an entrepreneur?
After finishing high school in Chuadanga, I moved to Singapore in 1995. After finishing my studies, I came back to the country in 1999 to work for the people of the country. After that, I felt the need for a world-class domestic electronics brand. This is how we get started. Five people, including me, we started our journey of electronics products manufacturing with a capital of 5 lakh Taka. We started by producing SKD black and white television. I was looking at the manufacturing and marketing side then. Then we brought colour televisions and slowly we went for producing fridge and air conditioner.
Initially, we were known as MyOne but we kept thinking about how to reach more people with a new name. Then we choose the name of the 'Minister,' Which, by the grace of Allah, is now appreciated by all.
DS: Apart from entrepreneurship, is there anything else you are passionate about?
From the beginning of my life, I was inspired by the ideology of Bangabandhu. I have been involved with Chhatra League since my school days. While I was a higher-secondary level student, I served as the organizing secretary of the Chhatra League. I have always carried the ideology of Bangabandhu in my heart and worked directly with prominent political personalities. Besides, I participated in the campaign on behalf of the Bangladesh Awami League in all the elections including 1996, 2001, 2008, 2014.
I want to mention that I have submitted my nomination paper as an Awami League candidate for Dhaka-18 by-election. The seat became vacant after former home minister Advocate Sahara Khatun Apa, also a presidium member of Bangladesh Awami League died on July 9.
I also wanted to participate in the election in my lifetime. I will continue to work for the country and the people of the country. Now, the rest is the wish of our beloved people's leader Sheikh Hasina.
I have been able to engage myself with people with my domestic brand as well as through various social work activities. I have been able to take myself to the doorsteps of people. Even in the Corona situation, I have distributed a lot of relief to my residential area Uttara, flood-hit areas and my village. In addition to this, we have distributed various protection products like free masks and sanitizers produced by Minister. We have also set up disinfect booths in different places. I have also worked and will continue to work with the government for the people of the country.