Nakshi kantha prospers girls entrepreneurship in Rajshahi


Female craftsmen have been sewing nakshi kantha for generations and it’s more than just handcraft, it has become the craftsman’s emotions, memories and dreams

A new potential life for Shahnaz Khatun has been revealed after the production of Nakshi Kantha, a type of traditional embroidered quilt, in recent years.

She is currently doing kantha in digital method after the best use of modern technology quickly turned into a latent entrepreneur.

Khatun, a resident of the village of Jogipara under Bagatipara Upazila in the Natore district, founded the Kantha company with a capital of 1,700 Tk in 2019.

She was initially inspired after seeing the process of making embroidered kantha in a block boutique store in the RDA market in Rajshahi. Since then, she has successfully done the work in her home.

She is currently receiving orders in her house and after selling her finished product, she earns a profit of Tk 5,000 to 7,000 per month.

“It takes me about a week to finish sewing and designing a kantha,” said Khatun. She added that her company created job opportunities for many women in her area.

Like Khatun’s endeavor, Nakshi Kantha was a godsend for many poor rural women as they sew their dream of the new day by overcoming longstanding poverty by commercially sewing the country’s traditional kantha.

Craftsmen have been sewing Nakshi Kantha for generations. It’s more than just handicraft, it has become the craftsman’s emotions, memories and dreams. Once made for family use only, it is now helping the home industry in the district that is turning housewives into entrepreneurs.

“I employ around 250 women in my industry,” says Dinesh Hasda from Kakonhat under Godagari upazila, who founded his business unit ‘Adivasi Santa kantha’ in 2013 as an entrepreneur. “I supply fabrics and threads, and the craftswomen pay between 1,600 and 1,700 Tk for sewing Nakshi Kantha, depending on the size,” he said.

He said his office building produces up to 1,000 nakshi kantha a month while he designs kanthas himself and supplies them to his workers for sewing.

“Our finished products are now exported to around 17 overseas countries through a NGO, Prokritee Bangladesh, in Dhaka,” said Dinesh Hashda.

He told BSS that business is currently growing significantly, with Nakshi Kanthas selling around 25 lakh on average annually, while his initial investment in Taka was 1 lakh. “In this area, people are known for their Nakshi Kantha skills,” notes Sheuly Basko, 38, a housewife and Nakshi Kantha craftsman from Sorsonipara village in Godagari upazila.

“With our rich artistic heritage, we can make good money,” she said. “Other women in my region have inspired me to sew Nakshi Kantha,” says Monwara Begum, 43, from the same region. Not only does she sew herself, but she coordinates the efforts of several others. “I earn up to Tk 3800 a month,” she said.

“The production of a Nakshi Kantha takes between one and two weeks, depending on the design,” says Adiba Khatun, 35, from the Kakonhat region, who has been in the industry for around seven years. Her husband works as a hotel employee. The income she earns is invaluable in covering the educational expenses of her three children.