Rebeka is carrying fresh vegetables she bought from the morning bazaar towards her house. In a few hours, local rickshaw pullers will crowd into her living room which has been converted into a mini canteen. Rebeka says, “It’s clockwork now. I’m just feeding a bigger family.”
Rebeka left her village many years ago for a better life in the city. The reality of making ends meet set in quickly, as Rebeka and her husband settled in a three room house in the slums of the capital Dhaka.
A different city life
In Bangladesh, 86 percent of the total working population face the uncertainty of informal unemployment.
Among them, most of the urban population lives in harsh living conditions of the city slums, employed in petty trades and jobs, with no future security.
Market relevant enterprises
The UPG programme recognises the unique condition of the urban ultra poor and offers them locally relevant and market driven enterprise options to build sustainable livelihoods.
Like Rebeka, who enrolled in a three-day catering training course of the UPG programme, received starting capital and now charges BDT 80 for two home-cooked meals per day. She also employs four local girls to help her with the cooking.
A small business
Rebeka is more than a caterer though; she is a multi-skilled entrepreneur.
She started building her enterprise using the profits of her catering to buy eight rickshaws that she now rents to rickshaw pullers from her neighbourhood.
Rebeka took lease of the space beside her house to construct 20 tin-roofed houses and put those on rent. Rebeka has also invested some of her savings in enlisting her son in a driving school and buying land in her village. While she has come across multiple challenges in her businesses, multiple sources of income have given her the ability to overcome them each time.
Rebeka’s smiles through her many roles of the day. “My neighbours tell me I’m like one of my rickshaws, always on the move.”