The Bongobazar fire was one of the worst fire incidents in the history of Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. The fire broke out at around 3:30 am in the Bongobazar market, a hub of wholesale and retail businesses, and spread rapidly due to the presence of flammable materials and lack of fire safety measures. The fire brigade and other emergency services arrived at the scene, but faced difficulties in accessing the narrow and congested lanes of the market. The fire was finally brought under control after more than six hours, but not before it had gutted more than 500 shops and caused an estimated loss of over 100 crore BDT.
The Bongobazar fire affected thousands of people who depended on the market for their income and livelihood. Among them, the most vulnerable were the shop owners who rented the shops from the market committee, and had taken loans from banks and other sources to run their businesses. These shop owners were the primary earners of their families, and also employed 3-4 workers who were also dependent on the shops. The fire not only destroyed their shops and goods, but also left them with huge debts and no source of income.
Confidence Group, as part of its social responsibility initiative, decided to help these shop owners by repaying their loans and providing seed money to restart their businesses. The group identified 43 shop owners who met the criteria of renting the shops, being the primary earners, and having 3-4 employees. The group collaborated with the local market committee and the samiti members, who verified the identities and the needs of the shop owners. The group then distributed a total of 3950000 BDT among the identified victims, with each shop owner receiving an average of 91860 BDT. The group also provided guidance and support to the shop owners on how to rebuild their shops and resume their businesses.
The initiative of Confidence Group has created a positive impact on the lives of the shop owners and their families. According to a follow-up survey conducted by the group, all the shop owners have been able to repay their loans and restart their businesses. The survey also found that the shop owners have a mean income of 35000 BDT and monthly sales of 2-3 lakh BDT, which are comparable to their pre-fire levels. The shop owners have also been able to retain their employees and provide them with fair wages and benefits