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Faatin Haque on Unlocking Bangladesh’s Entrepreneurial Frontier

In the heart of South Asia lies Bangladesh, a nation brimming with untapped entrepreneurial potential. Despite its challenges, Bangladesh is on the cusp of a transformative journey, driven by the passion and vision of leaders like Faatin Haque, With a bold agenda and a strategic roadmap, she aims to reshape Bangladesh's entrepreneurial landscape, fostering innovation, driving economic growth, and empowering a new generation of entrepreneurs. Driven by sophistication and quality, Miss Faatin, the owner of Trade Design Solutions Ltd, has grown her import business into one of the largest interactive business models in the hospitality industry in Bangladesh. This newly elected president of the Entrepreneurs Organization, in a one-to-one encounter with Colors Magazine, shared her insights as a woman entrepreneur from her expedition

Trade Design Solutions Ltd is now one of the largest companies in Bangladesh that imports sanitary wear, tiles, and other interior building tools. 13 years ago, Faatin was one of the very few large-scale importers in Bangladesh. But there are many competitors in the market now. “What sets us apart is that we are always quality-driven and design-oriented with our choice of products,” Faatin reveals her selling point. She is constantly incorporating cutting-edge designs and technologies into her business. Besides top-notch products from Europe and Thailand, her creative team offers after-sales services to customers who want more for their homes than just lifeless fittings.

Faatin Haque

One of the female sharks on the Shark Tank Bangladesh panel, Faatin, keeps herself informed and well-researched about her niche. So, she is always a step ahead of her fellows in setting the trend. Fateen speaks of her choice when it comes to trend-setting, “We always partner with renowned brands that have been in the market for some time and have a name. Brands like Laufen, Lutron, Crestron, and Milano have been known for their quality and style in the hospitality industry for quite some time.”

The luxury building materials that these brands offer are popular at home and abroad among people who prefer sophisticated corners for their homes. Fateen keeps herself updated on every new addition to the international brands. “We are always in touch with the changing market trends, whenever we see a trend changing in Europe, we try to incorporate that into our style long before it becomes popular in the market. Thus, we remain way ahead of the trend to be the trendsetter.” Faatin’s regular contacts also include architects and interior decorators about cutting-edge designs and technology.

China is the top trading partner of Trade Design Solutions Ltd along with the UK, Canada, Spain, USA, and France. This allows Fateen to offer a range of products from high-end to mid-range, subsequently bringing her customers not only from the elite class but from the upper middle class and sometimes from the middle class too.

As the target consumer belongs to a certain class in society, Faatin’s strategic plans diversify the operations of her company to capture a larger share of the market, attracting more business from this specific customer group. Faatin goes on about the versatility of her business, “We are always adding product lines to our company. We started with sanitary brands, now we do tiles, we do lighting, we do automation, we do furniture, and we do everything related to hospitality. So that, when a customer comes, he gets to have an eye on a variety of products and gets a range of choices to pick his style.”

About the accessibility of middle-class people with sophisticated living preferences, Faatin mentions that even if she wants to offer her products at a low budget, she cannot due to the extremely high rate of tax on imported goods. This raises the cost of shipping and, consequently, the selling price. Although most of her products are luxury, she still manages to furnish her showroom with two ranges of products, high-end and mid-range. The mid-range ones are mostly for the developers who have their hands on economic projects for different client types.

A new addition to her business is the flagship showroom, which is under construction right now in Tejgaon. That will be the largest interactive showroom, as Ms. Faatin explains, for the customers. “This will be a sort of experience-based place for my clients. I’ll have all my brands showcased there so that my customers can see themselves and choose.”

She explains further, “For example, if we have the bathroom fittings showcased, you will be able to turn on the tap and see the water coming out, you will see the settings. So you will not only see the product but also see how it works when installed.” It would indeed be a very comfortable shopping experience for her customers to have all the products under one large roof.

Her flagship showroom will also showcase her audiovisual products. Specifically, about the lighting, she plans to have it set in a way that adjusts itself with the human body clock, bright in the morning and dims as the day progresses. 

Faatin has unique and refined teams for each of her product lines, whether it be automation, lighting, or tiles. These teams consist of 4-5 members who are constantly working on cutting-edge designs and innovations. After proper market research, they decide what brands will go with what product line to extract maximum sales.

Faatin’s designs are known to promote 25% of green space and 25% of the open space of the land area. Other sustainable trends that she endorses in her products are water-saving flushing systems, heat resistance, and energy savings. With these efficiencies, Fateen thrives to promote environment-friendly products for a better world.

Between numerous skyscraping steps, Faatin faces multiple challenges. “Issues that we faced in the past few years were the closing down of LCS, supply delays due to logistic issues at the port, and production shortages during the pandemic,” she notes. Her customers, on the other hand, are very understanding, as Faatin describes, they are mostly professionals and businessmen who are aware of these challenges, and their cooperation makes her work easier.

What makes Faatin and her company future-ready is her excellent communication and networking skills. “We always try to get feedback from our customers, and we try to customize our service for them. Let’s say there is a customer who has asked for something specific, and we do not have that in stock. We make use of our contacts and provide the product for the client. For example, we do not yet have kitchen fittings incorporated into our regular business line, but one of my customers asked for it, and I got him the product from someone I know in Thailand.”

In addition to her networks, Faatin has a smart marketing team that is interested in finding innovative ways to bring in sales. Her team uses social media marketing strategies a lot these days to reach out to customers of certain age segments, and this has been very helpful in enhancing the business.

Ms. Faatin, as an employer, is also very thoughtful in setting her pay scale and keeping it higher than the market trend. She has noticed that a good salary package makes your employees lean toward their work with dedication. She believes that her approach to her employees should be quality-driven, just as she expects from her business. So this employee-friendly employer gives maximum benefits to them. Besides excelling in the business world, this entrepreneur is a wonderful leader who promotes women’s empowerment.

Faatin Haque emphasizes the importance of collaboration and innovation in driving entrepreneurial success. She envisions EO Bangladesh as a catalyst for fostering a culture where entrepreneurs can thrive and innovate.  “Collaboration is key to unlocking new opportunities and driving innovation,” says Haque. Through initiatives like innovation labs and joint ventures, EO Bangladesh aims to harness the collective wisdom and creativity of its members to tackle pressing challenges and seize emerging opportunities .

Faatin Haque recognizes the power of networks in driving entrepreneurial success. “By leveraging the global EO network, we can connect Bangladeshi entrepreneurs with opportunities and resources from around the world,” she explains. EO Bangladesh aims to facilitate cross-border partnerships and international collaborations, opening new doors for member businesses and accelerating their growth on the global stage.

Community Engagement and Social Responsibility

Beyond business success, Faatin Haque believes in the importance of giving back to society. “As entrepreneurs, we have a responsibility to use our skills and resources to make a positive impact,” she asserts. EO Bangladesh is committed to supporting community service projects and social entrepreneurship initiatives that address pressing societal challenges, demonstrating the transformative power of entrepreneurship for social good.

Building a strong brand presence is essential for EO Bangladesh to become a beacon of entrepreneurship in the region. Faatin Haque emphasizes the importance of utilizing digital marketing and high-visibility events to showcase the achievements and contributions of EO members. By positioning EO as a thought leader and a hub for entrepreneurial excellence, Haque aims to attract top talent and investment to Bangladesh’s burgeoning startup ecosystem.

Faatin Haque understands the importance of advocating for policies that support entrepreneurship and economic growth. “By engaging with policymakers and government officials, we can shape a more conducive environment for entrepreneurship to thrive,” she explains. EO Bangladesh aims to serve as a platform for dialogue and collaboration between entrepreneurs and policymakers, driving positive change and fostering a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.

In building a brighter future for Bangladesh, sustainability is paramount. Faatin Haque advocates for incorporating sustainable practices into the fabric of EO Bangladesh and its member businesses. “Sustainability is not just about environmental responsibility; it’s about ensuring the long-term viability and resilience of our businesses and communities,” she emphasizes. By embracing green initiatives and adopting a long-term strategic vision, EO Bangladesh aims to create lasting impact and prosperity for generations to come. 

As Bangladesh stands at the crossroads of economic transformation, leaders like Faatin Haque are paving the way for a new era of entrepreneurship and innovation. Through the Entrepreneurs’ Organization Bangladesh chapter, Haque is spearheading initiatives to empower entrepreneurs, drive collaboration, and create a more inclusive and sustainable future for Bangladesh. With a bold vision and unwavering determination, Faatin Haque is inspiring a generation of entrepreneurs to dream big, disrupt the status quo, and unlock Bangladesh’s true potential on the global stage.

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