Childhood/ Academic background
Tanuja Ali Mehmood: Born to a defense family, my childhood has passed a little different than others for sure. As my father used to get posted in different parts of Bangladesh, we had to frequently change our school, adjust with a new environment, make new friends and face new challenges in new places. These practices played a very important role to build my personality. Mentioned earlier due to my father’s profession, I had to change schools & colleges every year or so; finally right after my H.S.C from Rifles College (my father was Director Signals in BDR at that time) I pursued an undergrad degree in Environmental Studies & Management from North South University, followed by an internship in World Bank “Arsenic project” and continued to work on the project for several months. After that, I decided to join the MBA & Majored in International Business from IUB-Maastricht school of Management.
After completion of my MBA degree, I joined the administrative department of Bangladesh University and prepared a curriculum for their new Department. Simultaneously, I joined Anwar Group of Industries in Textile Division at Tongi, Gazipur in 2003. I was in charge of assuring the quality of goods (Terry & Kitchen Towel) which exported to our international customers in the USA, Canada, the EU, and Japan. At that time, my greatest challenge at that time was to take up two different responsibilities simultaneously and I was thoroughly enjoying that.
I always enjoyed challenges like taking up new hobbies, doing something new and creative. At that point in life, I decided to join “Arena Multimedia” and completed a diploma in web designing. After that, I started my own designing farm “Grafix station” with two of my friends. Very interestingly, I was very much engaged and multitasking in 3 different types of jobs at that point in time and not to forget a full-time mother.
In 2004 my elder daughter joined the school. When she started school, I had to start teaching her and realized that teaching the small kids were totally different than teaching the older students and definitely needed to learn that skill. In order to get some experience, I decided to join a school where I could get the teacher’s training and spending more time with a lot of small children to accelerate my learning process. Keeping that in mind, in 2004, I joined “Lakehead grammar school” and started taking classes in the morning from 8-10 am. I soon started to learn the techniques of teaching and managing the small kids which definitely helped me to teach my children better. So, from 2003-2007 I was gladly managing 4 different types of work balancing both professional and personal life with two daughters.
In 2007, I had to move to Canada for expanding our Textile division in the Canadian market. I was involved in several voluntary organizations in Canada along with the office set up, meeting new buyers and everything.
Finally, I returned to Bangladesh in 2013 and joined Anwar Group of Industries as Executive Director of the Textile division. The same year, I was elected as the Vice-Chairperson of Bangladesh Finance And Investments Company Limited (“BD Finance”). Later on, in 2016 December I was elected by the Board of Directors as the Chairperson of BD Finance. Among all the Non-banking Financial Institutions in Bangladesh, there are only 2 women who are performing as Chairperson and I am the 3rd one performing as Chairperson. I can proudly say that after taking the responsibility I have always tried my best to fulfill my responsibility and took BD finance to a different level.
Tanuja Ali Mehmood: Women have definitely come a long way for sure. Along with other sectors, women have special contributions to garments and textiles sector. But every year it’s a reminder for women that they will have to overcome the obstacles they in our men dominated society. They should voice jointly at least once in a year how to get their deserving rights and overcome the obstacles. Also, as a woman from the top authority, I definitely have a role to play and have always played my role to empower women.
Tanuja Ali Mehmood: I’m extremely fortunate to work in a business owner by the family where I’m surrounded by a lot of family members who help me, support me, and guide me in every step. Alhumdulillah, there are no obstacles at all for me at my workplace as I’ve always managed my side. Always I convince them and get their approval for new projects which I wish to work on.
Knowledge of Textile Acceleration
Tanuja Ali Mehmood: I definitely try my best all the time to make better use of my knowledge. I try to keep myself busy to learn different new things happening around me. I attended professional courses at IBA, Dhaka University and was fortunate enough to come across the extraordinary Senior Professor of IBA, Md. Saif Noman Khan Sir who helped me to learn about leadership, strategies and other skills which we need today to smoothly run a corporate house. Saif Noman Sir was also spending time with our managers as well as of the Group to teach them the ways of the corporate world.
Tanuja Ali Mehmood: We have been involved in export for more than 35yrs and the national export trophy is the one that recognizes the contribution of our organization in the global market. I have always encouraged my textile team to compete for such awards which will definitely highlight and bring our organization into the limelight.
What do you think about the positive impacts of leasing companies in our country’s economy?
Tanuja Ali Mehmood: Within a span of three decades Non-banking Financial Institutions (NBFIs) have proved themselves as an alternative and convenient arm of financing. Now, 33 NBFIs are operating in Bangladesh while the maiden one was established in 1981. These NBFIs are playing an important role in the overall economic development of the country. NBFIs have positioned themselves as a vibrant subsector catering to the diverse needs of the entire nation. Total outstanding credit exposure of FIs stood at BDT 196.70 billion with double-digit growth over the last 3 years. The majority portion of these exposures is in the industrial sector which help to boost up our economy over the period. Moreover, nowadays, NBFIs are playing a vital role as a financial intermediary meeting the diverse financial requirements of business enterprises through faster service.
Most leasing companies operating their activities in urban areas like megacities. Why?
Tanuja Ali Mehmood: The majority of corporate houses and industrial operations are surrounding to the Dhaka & Chittagong city in our country. Operational activities of NBFIs are linked with the presence of corporate houses, that’s why most of NBFIs operating their activities in the megacity. But the situation is changing over the period. NBFIs continually expanded its business network in line with the country’s shifting socioeconomic needs. In a bid to reach more customers across the country, BD Finance plans to expand its network by setting up more branches.
Mass people aren’t connected with the activities of leasing companies that we have seen quite the opposite in the banking sector. Do you have any plans to connect the mass people of the country?
Tanuja Ali Mehmood: As per the regulation of Bangladesh Bank, NBFIs have few limitations compare with banks. NBFIs are the financial intermediaries that are not allowed to perform the core banking business such as to receive demand deposits, issue cheques, pay-order or demand drafts, to issue LC and to involve in foreign exchange financing. NBFI sector in this regard didn’t get the opportunity to connect with the mass people.
Keeping that in mind, BD Finance has already diversified its product line from traditional leasing to project loans, working capital finance, factoring, home loan, auto loan, syndication services, merchant banking, stock brokerage services, and various structured products. In addition, we are planning to expand our business network which will help to connect with the mass people of the country.
Nowadays, we have seen less investment in the industrial sector. Is it a challenge for leasing companies to serving in the market?
Tanuja Ali Mehmood: Overall, there was no significant industrial growth in the economy. Yes, it is a big challenge for NBFIs to serving in the market. There are also multiple reasons which also intensify the challenge of NBFIs like the high cost of funds compare to banks, sourcing foreign funds by the reputed corporate houses and large amounts of ideal funds in the financial sector. However, the positive thing is that the government invests a large number of funds for major infrastructure development in terms of power supply and development of transport and communication facilities e.g. roads and highways. We are expecting the economy will boost up in the near future with the help of this infrastructure development. BD Finance is prepared to take the challenge by adding new clients in the portfolio offering diversified product lines.
How do your CSR activities contribute in social reforming?
Tanuja Ali Mehmood: BD Finance gives due importance to the fact that the business activities of the company have a social dimension and an impact on the community. We believe that the society, its clients, shareholders, all other stakeholders expect a high standards in ethics, transparency, commitment, and trustworthiness from a corporate entity. BD Finance recognizes its social responsibilities towards the community in which it operates its business as an NBFI and focuses on helping the distressed and poverty-ridden people. It always remains committed to enhancing its role in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and has institutionalized its CSR activities by way of founding a non-profitable, voluntary, social welfare-oriented Trust organization by the name of BD Finance Foundation. In pursuance of the CSR guideline of Bangladesh Bank for NBFIs, the Trust receives a contribution from BD Finance a portion of its profit after tax each year as per approval accorded by the shareholders in 12thAGM of the company. The fund is spent for humanitarian relief to people affected by natural calamities and those living in distress due to the impact of climate change, for promotion of education and health care in poor communities, etc.
Do you think the commercial banks are a competitor for leasing companies?
Tanuja Ali Mehmood: Yes, both NBFIs and commercial banks are playing their lending business in the same economy. Moreover, the central bank has allowed commercial banks to do lease finance. This has severally affected the balance in the level playing field of the NBFI sector which ultimately a challenge in the growth of this sector. However, few fundamental limitations have existed in the commercial banking sector, which laid down the foundation of the accelerated development process of NBFIs. Commercial banks always face a mismatch in maturity since they have to fulfill the long term financing needs with short term resources. On the other side, extending the operational horizon through product innovations is not always possible for commercial banks. These areas create new opportunities for the NBFIs to grab with the utmost success. By providing an efficient and cost-effective financing solution, NBFIs have differentiated themselves among financial intermediaries, enabling to meet the diverse financial requirements of business enterprises.
Message for the young generation who want to build up their career in financial institutions?
Tanuja Ali Mehmood: As one of the fastest-growing sectors of Bangladesh, NBFIs are playing a vital role as a financial intermediary linking economic development. This sector is constantly serving people and the economy of the country by raising surplus funds as a deposit, providing accumulated funds as a loan and thus creating wealth for the economy. NBFI sector offers a great platform for the young generation to build a career with learning and career growth matched with compatible compensation and ethical working condition with the highest level of professionalism.
Briefly success story of BD Finance
Tanuja Ali Mehmood: BD Finance commercially launched its operation on February 15, 2000, with the mission of providing quality services to the clients with a committed team of professionals, thoughts, modern processes, systems & structure. The company is sponsored by the renowned Anwar Group, which has a long success story in different industrial sectors. Over the last 17 years, BD Finance has emerged as a leading financial Institution of the country with a wide range of financial products to offer to its clients. BD Finance continues to evolve as an innovative financial solution provider & now able to offer financial products tailored to the needs of its customers.BD Finance looks forward to greater participation in the economic development of Bangladesh introducing all financial products under one roof to meet the customer’s economic needs. BD Finance has participated in refinancing schemes of Bangladesh Bank for Agro-based Product Processing Industries in Rural Areas and to support the development of the new entrepreneurs in Cottage, Micro and Small Enterprise sectors. With the commitment of capital market development of the country, BD Finance entered into capital market operation by establishing two subsidiary companies. BD Finance Securities Limited is a stock brokerage company having a membership in the Dhaka Stock Exchange Limited. Within a short span of time, BD Securities has emerged as a strong market player in the sector. BD Finance Capital Holdings Limited, a full-fledged merchant bank, has started operation to cater to the fast-growing demand of the Bangladesh capital market. In addition, BD Finance also sponsored one open ended mutual fund namely “Vanguard AML BD Finance Mutual Fund One”. BD Finance has a young and high-quality professional team which will help the organization to grow more strongly through meeting diversified changing demand of the clients.