Building a collective dream

He could have fulfilled the dream of his student life of becoming a civil engineer or a doctor. He had even prepared for it, retaining both mathematics and biology in his array of subjects for the intermediate level of education.

He also got admitted to the Department of Civil Engineering at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) in Dhaka in 1963 after passing the Higher Secondary Certificate exam from Rajshahi Government College.

But this brilliant student did not join public service although there were ample opportunities in his life.

AKM Mosharraf Hussain

Instead, AKM Mosharraf Hussain, managing director of Standard Group, embarked on a journey to becoming a businessperson with his close friend and roommate at the then Quaid-e-Azam Hall of Buet.

Although his friend, Atiqur Rahman, took up a job as a government engineer, their journey as partners in business has continued for over 54 years.

Hussain was born on 14 September 1942 in a village called Burungi in Kazipur upazila under Sirajganj district.

The village no longer exists, having fallen victim to river erosion. But such calamities instilled in Hussain a fighting spirit.

While studying in class seven, he used to operate a rice huller, earning 10-12 paisa for processing every maund (around 37 kilogrammes) of paddy.

When he grew up and started a new phase in life after joining Buet, he realised a huge number of people in his village were poor and unemployed.

The urge to ensure a livelihood for such people prompted him to open up a business after graduation.

He and his friend started a construction business in 1969 and started employing people, mainly those who used to reside in his village and had been left without a home or livelihood due to river erosion.

Hussain had chosen the construction business due to the fact that he had some experience in it, having worked for some years with his elder brother, who was a contractor.

But as fate would have it, there was no scope for permanent employment in his construction business because he used to take on projects that had specific timeframes. This meant that once he completed a project, there was no scope to retain the workers.

In other words, if there was no new project, there was no employment for the workers.

So, instead of staying within his comfort zone, Hussain’s entrepreneurial mind sought to meet the challenge head-on.

His company now makes an array of products — primarily woven shirts, trousers, jackets, sweaters and accessories — through a total of 20 factories.

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