GUWAHATI, Oct 14 - A college dropout from Assam’s Hojai who went on to set up a Rs 500-million-dollar business empire in Laos, Habib Mohammad Chowdhury on Thursday pledged to work for the promotion of tourism and culture of the North-east in South East Asia.
Addressing a gathering at the Maniram Dewan Trade Centre during the opening of the entrepreneurship conclave ‘Parivartan’, Chowdhury spoke about his humble background and his rags-to-riches story as he went on to establish a multi-million-dollar business set-up.
“I have been trying my best for cultural exchange between North-east India and Laos. I have already led some delegates from both the sides. I see a plenty of opportunities in tourism in the region. It will be great if we can send Bihu and Sattriya troupes to Laos and vice versa. And that’s how we can better the relationship between the two regions,” Chowdhury said while addressing the conclave.
Senior Asom Gana Parishad leader Brindaban Goswami also addressed the audience at the event which was attended by various entrepreneurs.
“The scenario is changing gradually...we need to encourage our youths to think about new ideas so that they can generate employment. Habib Chowdhury is an example every young entrepreneur will be proud of. I want him to support entrepreneurs from the region so that we can see more Habibs coming up,” Goswami said.
Chowdhury, who was born and brought up in Hojai in Nagaon district, struggled hard to set up the HSMM Group of Companies in Laos which has emerged to be the largest Agarwood and Agar-based products company in South East Asia. Besides, they deal in perfume and mining. Now, his company has more than four lakh Agar plantations. In 2010, at the India-Laos Business Forum, Chowdhury founded the Indian Chamber of Commerce (INCHAM) in Lao PDR.
“The North-east has a very important and strategic location. Nestled between Bangladesh, China, Bhutan, and Myanmar, it is ideally positioned for trans-border trade. Moreover, the neighbouring ASEAN region is one of the most dynamic economic regions of the world today. The ‘Act East Policy’ of our Government offers a huge opportunity to transform the whole economic landscape of this region,” added Chowdhury.
Sharing his experience of early days in Assam and Dubai, Chowdhury said that his determination has placed him at the position where he is now.
“Due to financial crisis in the family, I had to drop out from my college. Leaving everything in Hojai, I had to go to Dubai in early 1990s to bear the responsibility of looking after my whole family. I wanted to make my family comfortable, to get what they needed. I wanted them to enjoy life. I was resolved never to stop until I fulfil my dream,” he said.
Parivartan is a joint initiative of 3E Innovative Foundation and Saarathi Finmen to create an enabling environment for entrepreneurship to grow. The five-day event is witnessing entrepreneurs from the region participating in the lecture and panel discussion series along with a pitching session where budding entrepreneurs and start-ups could pitch their ideas for angel funding.