Three new export-processing zones (EPZs) continue to lure in both foreign and local investors thanks to their key advantages like available plots, infrastructural facilities and easy access to labour.
On the other hand, according to firsthand accounts, diversifying products and creating women employment these EPZs are also ushering in a change in socioeconomic condition of inhabitants in those backwoods.
The Uttara, Mongla and Ishwardi EPZs have attracted an aggregate US$ 251.63 million worth of local and foreign investments by the end of fiscal year (FY) 2015-16, official figures revealed.
Of the total, a sum of $ 67.62 million was invested in the three EPZs in the last FY.
Besides, a good number of foreign and local investors have already shown their interest in investing in the zones. Some foreign companies have invested as joint venture, and their interest also increased.
The trio economic zones in the outlying areas had a modest start in export trade--in the early period when they started off, they exported $ 2.72 million. Now, in FY 2015-16, the country earned $378.2 million, according to Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA).
The three EPZs are widening country's export basket by adding new products like wigs &fashion hairs, caps, tent, sleeping bag, camping furniture, bamboo-made coffin, toys, electronics, optical frames, leather products, jute items, metal products, luggage, batteries etc.
Bangladesh's other EPZs have produced basically garment products but these three have changed traditional EPZ-product concepts.
Also, a total of 32,795 employment opportunities have been created in the three EPZs, 64 per cent of the workers being women.
General Manager (public relations) of BEPZA Nazma Binte Alamgir said, "Visionary decision on decartelization of EPZs changed rural people's socioeconomic condition."
It is not only eradicating poverty in underprivileged north-southern part of Bangladesh but also creating women empowerment and new business scopes for surrounding locality, she noted.
She informed that before joining EPZs most of the female workers were housewives and household chores were their daily activities. They had no specific incomes. Although some of them engaged in different cottage industries like sewing mat, making basket and net etc, but these earnings were not remarkable.
Now in respective different positions they earn Tk 5000-11,200 monthly. Also, women get house rent, medical allowance, conveyance that also creates their future security, BEPZA sources said.
Every year an increasing number of women are joining the productive workforce of EPZs of north-southern part of Bangladesh which support the vulnerable women in improving their everyday life.
For contributing to family income, women now take part in any kind of family decision as well as are treated as important members their families in a major change in rural lifestyle.