Over the course of 17 years, the Bangladesh Business Awards has gone on to become the byword for business achievement, the testament to which was witnessed on July 27.
It was a Friday evening, a time of the week that is typically dedicated to rest and recuperation for the busy industrialists, corporate leaders, politicians and civil society members.
But, they thronged to the capital's Radisson Blu Dhaka Water Garden to felicitate this year's winners in a grand event organised by DHL Express, the world's leading logistics company, and The Daily Star, Bangladesh's leading English newspaper.
M Anis Ud Dowla, chairman of ACI, was crowned the Business Person of the Year for outstanding corporate success and ethics.
Renata took home the Enterprise of the Year award for its remarkable innovations and achievements in the pharmaceuticals industry.
Pioneer Insurance won the accolade of the Best Financial Institution category.
Afsana Asif Shoma, managing partner of Asix, a jute goods producer, won the award in the Outstanding Woman in Business category.
Tapan Chowdhury, chairman of Pioneer Insurance; Syed S Kaiser Kabir, CEO of Renata; M Anis Ud Dowla, chairman of ACI; and Shoma received the awards from Finance Minister AMA Muhith.
“The award is not only honouring the businesspeople, it is also recognising the contribution of the business community as a whole,” Muhith said.
He hailed the winners and also lauded The Daily Star and DHL for initiating the awards since 2000.
“The award recognises your [winners] good work and gives the credits you deserve. I hope DHL and The Daily Star will continue the awards in the future as it will encourage businesses, women entrepreneurs and financial institutions.”
Md Miarul Haque, country manager of DHL Express Bangladesh, called upon the business community to turn their attention to e-commerce. By 2019, the global e-commerce market will be worth $3.4 trillion.
In Bangladesh, thousands are selling products online and focusing entirely on the local market, which is estimated at about $25 million, he said.
He also urged Bangladesh's e-commerce players to take advantage of global platforms such as Alibaba.
Synchronisation between the public and private sectors needs to be improved in Bangladesh though the government has done many things to broaden the field for the business community, said Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of The Daily Star.
“Since day one, we have been rule-based and transparent. That is why we are successful and marching ahead,” Tapan Chowdhury said about Pioneer Insurance.
Kaiser Kabir said all the credit for Renata's success goes to its young team that has been given a lot of responsibilities.
“This award is something the business community in Bangladesh looks forward to,” Anis Ud Dowla said. “In ACI, we try to live up to that standard every day.”
Shoma said it was a real honour to receive the award. “We want to take Asix to such a position that we can take our national products to all over the world.”
Speaking about the awards, Muhammad A (Rumee) Ali, a former deputy governor of the central bank, said the award encourages the winners to do more.
The Bangladesh Business Awards represent the pinnacle of business achievement, said Michael Patrick Foley, CEO of Grameenphone.
“Peers recognising peers is one of the most important forms of validation one can receive.”
The top five contestants of Nirmaner Taroka—a reality TV show to promote the country's construction workers—performed at the programme alongside artistes Sandhi and Swagata.
The programme was attended by, among others, Mahbubur Rahman, president of ICCB; M Matiul Islam, the country's first finance secretary; Rokia Afzal Rahman, a former adviser to a caretaker government; Geeteara Safiya Choudhury, also a former adviser; ATM Shamsul Huda, former chief election commissioner; Latifur Rahman, chairman and managing director of Transcom Group; Anis A Khan, managing director of Mutual Trust Bank; Syed Mahbubur Rahman, chairman of the Association of Bankers, Bangladesh; Francois de Maricourt, CEO of HSBC Bangladesh; Debapriya Bhattacharya and Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellows of CPD; and Rubana Huq, managing director of Mohammadi Group.
The award was introduced to create an environment of excellence and competitiveness and to help the business community to scale greater heights of productivity and efficiency.