Getting To Know: Nurjahan Begum from Progoti

Getting To Know: Nurjahan Begum from Progoti

This week we get to know Nujahan founder of Progoti a bit better 

Progoti is a social enterprise brand with a unique approach to their bottom line as their priority is social impact. Their pricing model is not inflated for profits, and $5 of each product goes towards the retirement benefits of garment workers in their partner factories in Bangladesh.

What inspired you to start your company?
I started Progoti to make a difference in the lives of the front line soldiers of the Fashion's supply chain. While working in the industry I saw many times how the welfare of workers was not considered in the decision-making process of companies. The same occurred in International Aid Organizations I worked for; resources did not effectively help people at the grass-roots level. I want Progoti to be a purpose-driven brand bringing equality in all aspects of a company and a different approach towards business models that prioritize people over profit whether they are customers or workers.

What has been the most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur in this space?
Seeing customers wear our products and hearing words of encouragement on how we are exploring pricing models is gratifying. Personally, the biggest reward is knowing that we are impacting the lives of 22 workers and their families. A seamstress' comment was “ No one thinks of us like you do.” The feeling of hope they transmit to me inspires us to do more.

What is a surprising lesson you learned along the way?
I have learned a lot about ecommerce and digital marketing. There is a wide array of opportunities, and with that come challenges as well.

Who do you turn to for motivation and inspiration?
I am inspired by the seamstresses whom we are helping. I stay in touch with all of them, and over time we have developed fond relationships - They do not ask for much for their hard work.
I am also motivated by my husband and co-founder, Neil, whose patience and positivity encourage me to continue our efforts every day.

What is a quote that you live by?
My dad once told me “ If you run behind the world you will never be able to catch it but if you make the world run behind you it will always be in your hands.” Or as others would say, “..when they zig, you should zag.” This mindset has made me more critical of the choices I make in life.

Do you have any advice for people who want to start being more conscious consumers?
Customers have a lot of power in changing the world through their buying decisions. For example, if someone has a yearly budget of $1000 to spend on clothing, and chooses to spend 50% on grass-roots, socially-oriented businesses, that simple action can shift the landscape of the industry as a whole. Imagine scaling this to global cities like Toronto, where citizens are more mindful of the implications of their spending. We are seeing this phenomenon snowballing with younger generations, who are more aware of the impact of their actions.

What are some small steps you do in your daily life to be more environmentally friendly?
I try to reduce plastic usage in my everyday life by using reusable products like shopping bags, coffee pods, and mugs. I also try to minimize my food waste and cook at home to minimize the packaging I go through. I think it’s important to ask yourself what are the activities in your everyday routines that one can go about in a more eco-friendly way.

How do you practice self-care?
I am careful with what I eat and try to stick to an exercise schedule, but it can be hard to make time for exercise when living the entrepreneur life. I also try to reduce the use of toxic chemicals in my make-up and skin care.

How do you want to be remembered?
A person who explored new ways of integrating social impact in grass-roots businesses. Someone who put people and the planet as priorities in small businesses.

What’s your favorite book of all time?
“My name is Red,” a Turkish novel by Orhan Pamuk. I love the author’s unique characters and creative writing


Thank you so much Nurjahan! You are so inspiring!


Shop all Progoti clothes here!

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