Business heroes honoured | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 26, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 26, 2011

Business heroes honoured


Awardees pose with trophies at the 11th Bangladesh Business Awards ceremony at Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka yesterday. From left, Alihussain Akberali, chairman of BSRM Group; Tanya Tazeen Karim, an architect; Faruk Khan, commerce minister (chief guest); Ali Reza Iftekhar, managing director of Eastern Bank; Amjad Khan Chowdhury, chief executive officer of Pran-RFL Group; M Matiul Islam, chairman of Industrial and Infrastructure Development Finance Company; Ramesh Natarajan, Vice-President, DHL Express, Rest of South Asia, and Desmond Quiah, country manager, DHL Express. The Daily Star and DHL jointly organised the awards ceremony. Photo: Amran Hossain

It was a special night to honour the country's five business heroes -- institutions and individuals -- for taking their ventures to a greater height of achievement in their own areas. Each awardee is a success story and a signpost for ideas and innovations in the world of business.
Amjad Khan Chowdhury, chief executive officer of Pran-RFL Group, was recognised as the Best Business Person of the Year as The Daily Star, the country's most-read English newspaper, and DHL Express, the world's leading logistics company, honoured the country's best businesses and the people behind them.
On a night of triumph for businesses, Chowdhury, 71, won the much-coveted award for turning a simple idea of producing agro-processed foods in 1991 into a company of 30,000 employees.
M Matiul Islam, chairman of Industrial and Infrastructure Development Finance Company (IIDFC), was crowned with the Lifetime Achievement Award for a career that spanned six decades. He is best recognised as a doyen of banking for building a financial system to jive up the war-ravaged economy soon after the Liberation War. Matiul Islam, as the country's first finance secretary, nationalised six banks and set up Arab Bangladesh Bank, a first step in the private sector.
Architect Tanya Tazeen Karim, co-partner of Tanya Karim NR Khan & Associates, was crowned as the Outstanding Woman in Business on the glittering night at Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka. The award recognises her footprints in design solutions and consultancy. She can best explained as one of the very few women who are famed for designing buildings at home and abroad. Tania said she was “pleasantly surprised” to have won the award and thanked The Daily Star and DHL for thinking “out of the box” to award an entrepreneur like her.
Eastern Bank Ltd was named the Best Financial Institution under the Bangladesh Business Awards 2010. The bank that rose from the ashes of the closed BCCI is an example of innovations in improvement of commercial performance, efficiency and customer engagement.
BSRM Group, which has been in operation for the last six decades, won the Enterprise of the Year Award for its historic presence in the steel industry. The company chairman, Alihussain Akberali, said the secret of their success is integrity, hard work and relentless quest for innovation. “We want to tell the nation that we have not let them down,” he said.
Bangladesh Business Awards stepped into the 11th year of its journey that began in 2000. The award has become the country's premier recognition for businesses that have made major strides in economic development.
Commerce Minister Faruk Khan, who graced yesterday's awards ceremony as the chief guest, attributed the country's extraordinary export performance to the entrepreneurs. Bangladesh's export grew more than 40 percent in the last 11 months of the outgoing fiscal year.
The minister, who gave away the awards to the winners, said it would not have been possible without the hard work of the entrepreneurs and assured the business community that all obstacles to economic development would be removed.
“There are many stumbling blocks and challenges. Bangladesh knows how to take on challenges. During the economic crisis, we showed that we can manage any disaster in the economic field too.” Khan assured that the government would do everything to help businesses flourish.
The ceremony was attended by 300 businesspeople, diplomats, bureaucrats, politicians, entrepreneurs, celebrities, civil society members and academics. The award aims to acknowledge the contributions of companies and individuals in business, create an environment for entrepreneurship and improve the standards of corporate management.
“The year 2011 marks the 11th year of the Business Awards. We are proud to celebrate the spirit of excellence of Bangladesh's business community together with The Daily Star,” said Desmond Quiah, country manager, DHL Express.
“In the last 11 years, we have seen Bangladesh emerge as one of the competitive developing economies in the world. This nation has succeeded despite natural disasters. Even, during the global economic crisis, Bangladesh economy defied the threat,” he said.
In this light, it is important to acknowledge the country's dynamic business leadership that drives this momentum, said Quiah.
Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of The Daily Star, praised Bangladesh's leading businesses for their roles in taking the economy to a new height, and said businessmen should be awarded for increasing the “productive capacity of the nation”.
“The business entrepreneurs took an idea, built an institution around it, introduced a quality product, went to people -- so that the product is bought -- made a profit and reinvested the profit in the company,” Anam said.
“In this whole process, they create employment and increase the purchasing capacity of people at large. With the whole process, a business institution grows and thereby the country grows.”
Anam said the country's entrepreneurs progressed but could not go too far for insufficient policy framework. “Unless we remove the stumbling blocks, we will not be able to get the true benefit of market economy.”
He said Bangladesh is a story of limited success, and the untold story is that it has immense potential.
The businessmen lead in an environment where impediments trouble entrepreneurs, he said, adding that Bangladesh faces some serious issues that prevent it from tapping into its immense potential, but those issues are not seriously discussed or debated. “We must nurture in our heart the unrealised potential of Bangladesh.”
Bangladesh posted more than $20 billion in exports up to May of the outgoing fiscal year, Anam said.
“But there are many more things to be done before Bangladesh can tell the world 'we Bangladeshis are a proud nation.' Our economic emancipation is yet to come. The business entrepreneurs have to be given environment, support and freedom,” he said.
Amjad Khan Chowdhury, CEO of Pran-RFL Group, said: “From day one, we focused on the dairy industry out of the belief that if we can develop the sector, we will be able to eradicate poverty from the country.”
Ali Reza Iftekhar, managing director of EBL, said: “I am inspired, but not surprised. I was confident that today or tomorrow the bank would win awards such as this.”
For M Matiul Islam, his philosophy is to never look back. “I always look forward. That is my guiding principle. Life is nothing without productivity.”
Rokia Afzal Rahman, chairman of Mediaworld Ltd, the owning company of The Daily Star, was also present.

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