Not everyone had the chance to take advantage of the 2010 stock market bubble and roll money for a bigger cause. But Kazi Sazedur Rahman could.
He became a stock market investor in 2008 with the money he had earned by supplying a power plant and sold all the stock just a few days before the start of the bubble. He was 24 years old.
"I had no idea of the collapse of the market.I liquidated shares to pursue my dream of making environmentally friendly paper cups," he said. Mr. Rahman, who set up a small factory to make paper cups in two years.
The idea came to him when he was playing Hajj with his mother in November 2010. He was given dates for the iftar in a disposable paper cup.
"I was fascinated by the cup – it was eco-friendly and always made of food grade products – I felt that I had what I was looking for."
On his return home, Rahman sold his holdings of shares and started looking for information on a paper cup.
He found mostly plastic cups. In his quest, he went to Malaysia and later to China, where he stayed a month and a half to receive training on technology to make paper cups.
However, training and some cash were not enough for him to start a business. Rahman has applied for loans to some banks, and all except Islami Bank have agreed to lend it for the project.
Rahman received 30 lakh Tk, although the money was one-third of the amount he was looking for.
With the loan and TK 10 lakh in hand, he ventured to make paper cups by renting a small room in Tejgaon and KPC Industries was born.
He set up three machines by investing Tk 23 lakh and went into production in June 2012.
"I did not have an office when I applied for loans, but one of my relatives allowed me to prepare documents using the address of his garment factory in Ashulia: This support has helped me a lot to start the business. "
With the cups produced in the factory, Rahman went to the Gulshan kitchen market and sold a caricature of cups for 3,000 tk to retailers. He commissioned Chevron, the US energy company, to order 2 lakh cups a month.
"Later, Pepsico started buying from us, which gave me great strength."
Rahman never looked back after that. In the six months of production, its corporate customers have grown to 55. Today, it stands at 160 and includes familiar names like Nestle and Pran.
KPC now makes 3.30 cups of lakh paper a day with paper plates and bowls. He is also looking at expansion.
"We are building a factory on our own land.We will have no wastage in the factory," said the owner of KPC, whose turnover has gone up by 22% to 11 crores Tk in 2016-17.
The new facility, which will be set up in Rupganj, Narayanganj, will manufacture paper cups of 12 lakh per day to supply the national and export markets.
Rahman plans to start production in the new plant in 2018. "The perspective on the domestic market is huge – just think how much tea people in this country are drinking – if tea stands start using paper cups there will be a huge demand. "
Some 15 crores of cups are used every year in the country, the majority being supplied by local manufacturers. Overall, the market for paper cups is $ 280 billion a year, he said.
"The most beautiful aspect of all this is that the paper cups help us protect our environment from degradation by replacing the plastic cups and at the same time, create business for us." I was thinking of doing something like that. "
Paper cups, which are made of pulp board from virgin wood pulp, can be turned into organic fertilizer within 21 days, he said.
However, there are challenges. Manufacturers of paper cups must import raw materials by paying a total of 61 percent taxes and duties.
The right of importation for the finished product is also the same. As a result, local manufacturers like KPC have to face fierce competition with mugs imported from India.
"The Bangladesh Bank should include the manufacture of paper cups in its plan for refinancing green projects."
If the government removes import duties on raw materials, the costs of production will decrease considerably.
"We will be able to sell the cups at prices lower than current prices.This will make it possible to get out of the market plastic cups dangerous for the environment," said Rahman, recognized by the SME Foundation as the fourth best industrial entrepreneur in 2016.