Assam’s college drop-out multi-million dollar entrepreneur vows to promote tourism

A college dropout from Assam’s Hojai who went on to become the owner of a Rs 500 million dollar group of companies in Laos, Habib Mohammad Chowdhury on Thursday said he will work for the promotion of tourism and culture of Northeast in the South East Asia.

Addressing a gathering at the Maniram Dewan Trade Centre during the opening of entrepreneurship conclave ‘Parivartan’, on 14th October Chowdhury spoke about his humble background and how he went on to establish a multi-million dollar business empire in Laos.

“I have been trying my best for cultural exchange between the northeast India and Laos. I have already led some delegates from both the sides. I see a plenty of opportunities in tourism in the region. It will be great if we can send Bihu and Satriya troupes to Laos and vice versa. And that’s how we can better the relationship between the two regions,” said Chowdhury, addressing an entrepreneurs’ conclave ‘Parivatan’ in Guwahati. Asom Gana Parishad leader Brindaban Goswami addressed the audience at the event which was attended by various entrepreneurs.

“The scenario is changing gradually… we need to encourage our youths to think about new ideas so that they can generate employment. Habib Chowdhury is an example every young entrepreneur will be proud of. I want him to support entrepreneurs from the region so that we can see more Habib coming up,” said Brindaban Goswami in his address.

Chowdhury, who was born and brought up in Hojai in Nagaon district, has struggled hard to set up HSMM Group of Companies in Laos which has emerged to be the largest Agarwood and Agar based product’s company in South East Asia. Besides, they deal in perfume and mining. Now, his company has more than four lakh Agar plantations. In 2010, at the India-Laos Business Forum, Chowdhury founded the Indian Chamber of Commerce (INCHAM) in Lao PDR.

“Northeast of India has a very important and strategic location. Nestled between Bangladesh, China, Bhutan, and Myanmar, it is ideally positioned for trans-border trade. Moreover, the neighbouring ASEAN region is one of the most dynamic economic regions of the world today. The ‘Act East Policy’ of our government offers a huge opportunity to transform the whole economic landscape of this region,” added Chowdhury.

Sharing his experience of early days in Assam and Dubai, Chowdhury said that his determination has placed him at the position where he is now.

“Due to the financial crisis in the family, I had to drop out from my college. Leaving everything in Hojai I had to go to Dubai in the early 1990s to bear the responsibility of looking after my whole family. I wanted to make my family comfortable, to get what they needed. I wanted them to enjoy life. I was resolved never to stop until I have provided well for them,” he said.

Parivartan is a joint initiative of 3E Innovative Foundation and Saarathi Finmen to create an enabling environment for entrepreneurship to grow. The 5-day event will see various entrepreneurs from the region participating in the lecture and panel discussion series along with a pitching session where budding entrepreneurs and start-ups could pitch their ideas for angel funding.

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