Coming from a financially unstable family, Kamal Miah (42) (fictitious name), the eldest son among three, went abroad with the dream of a better livelihood. While using multiple routes to reach Germany, he discovered danger and uncertainty at each step straining his own life at stake.
Initially Kamal few to Dubai from Bangladesh for work in May 2012 with his poor educational qualifications. However, he could not get any job in Dubai. He then went to Germany through middlemen which cost him BTD 1,600,000 BDT (18,876 USD). After a four-months of a journey, Kamal arrived there by crossing the borders of Iran and Turkey. Moreover, he was badly in debt as he had borrowed to finance his migration cost from multiple sources such as from friends, relatives as well as selling off land and jewelry.
He started working there as a carpenter but failed to settle down in Germany because of being an irregular migrant. Under Standard Operating Procedures (SoP) agreed between the Government of Bangladesh and the European Union (EU), Kamal was returned to Bangladesh on 4 September 2019. Upon arrival in Bangladesh, Kamal received immediate assistance from the Prottasha project, which is being implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in partnership with BRAC with funding from the EU.
Later, Kamal was assessed by the Prottasha project field staff to identify his needs and vulnerability status. At that time, Kamal was mentally frustrated due to the huge amount of debt on his shoulders, as a result, he confined himself in his house and stopped socializing with others in the community.
After the need assessment, Kamal received counseling support from trained professional counselors under the Prottasha project which helped him to recover his mental illness and inspired him to work for getting out of his financial crisis.
During the reintegration planning process, the possibilities of developing a local small enterprise for him came into light. The field staff critically reviewed the entire process. A local purchase committee was formed under the Prottasha project to critically review and follow up on the purchase process before the handover of in-kind assistance to Kamal. In November 2019, he received BDT 90,000 (1,061 USD) to purchase lubricant to set up a motorcycle accessories shop. He was continuously monitored and supported by the project staff to make the business venture profitable and sustainable.
Kamal also received financial literacy training to prepare monthly budgeting, a basic understanding of investment, and managing small enterprises as an entrepreneur, which helped him to build up his business. Within the first month, he gained a net profit of BDT 27,523 BDT (USD 324) and gradually his business grew up to a profit of BDT 41,567 (USD 490 USD) by March 2020. Kamal’s wife also received handicrafts training through referral linkage services under the project and she has been planning to start a home-craft venture. Now Kamal can foresee the prosperity of his life. Considering the growth of his business, he wants to join community enterprises of the Prottasha project which is an upcoming activity to establish enterprises in project areas.
Kamal says, “The economic in-kind assistance from Prottasha Project worked like magic, like Aladdin’s lamp in my life. The financial literacy training assisted me to grow into a successful entrepreneur and my story also motivates the other returnees to become economically self-sufficient. The Prottasha project has contributed to develop entrepreneurs like me in Bangladesh, and this has a significant impact on the economy of Bangladesh in the long run. In my heart, I am always deeply thankful to the project.”
Returnees are receiving 50 USD as on-arrival assistance to reach their hometown, food, temporary accommodation, and information on the Prottasha project.