April , 2009


(From left) Malcolm Monteiro, senior vice president of DHL Express, Desmond Quiah, country manager of DHL Bangladesh, Sabrina Islam, CEO of Reflections, Muhammad A (Rumee) Ali, chairman of BRAC Bank, Dr Salehuddin Ahmed, governor of Bangladesh Bank, Abdul Monem, chairman of Abdul Monem Ltd, and Mizanur Rahman Bhuiyan, chairman of Meghna Group, pose for photographs at the award giving ceremony of The Daily Star-DHL Bangladesh Business Awards 2008 at Sonargaon Hotel in the city on April 17. PHOTO: AMRAN HOSSAIN

A night to celebrate business creativity


Star Business Report

A night that burns brighter than daylight in Bangladesh's corporate world is the Daily Star-DHL business awards night that celebrates creativity in the private sector.

The global economic crisis has spread a pall of gloom over the world economy. In Bangladesh, it is not all dark, though. The private sector, billed as the engine of economic growth, is still resilient and is expected to remain so in the days to come.

The Daily Star and DHL Express awarded four key players in the private sector on April 17 for their “pragmatic creativity”, hard work, creating employment and wealth and driving the economy in 2008, a year when much of the world lurched into a financial crisis.

They work in areas that stretch from glassmaking to bankrolling small and medium enterprises to bicycle exports to construction and food and beverages.

“Unlike a musician or a painter, a business leader not only needs to allow his imagination to flow, but also will have to make it practical, workable and sellable,” says The Daily Star Editor and Publisher Mahfuz Anam in his address to an audience.

In an entrepreneur lies a combination of creativity and practicality.

Special Guest Speaker
Sir David Bell, chairman of the Financial Times Group, who came to Dhaka, especially for the occasion -- invited by The Daily Star.

Anam says business has changed the world. "It's due to them that productivity has risen. It's due to them that the country's wealth has enormously expanded."

Anam sums up the rationale for honouring the year's best players. “As an integral part of a striving and struggling Bangladesh, The Daily Star has realised that our future lies in the growth of the private sector."

"Our future lies in recognising the leaders of the private sector, giving them a national stature and bringing them out of their domain to the public eye.”

The purpose of the awards is to recognise the corporate leaders as models for others to emulate.

The 2008 awards are much more significant than before as the global meltdown is squeezing the economies in the developed world and pulling developing countries along with it.

The crisis has shown the world that business as usual is no longer possible. The irresponsible market mechanism is at the heart of the problem. A balance between a regulatory framework and the private sector is where the answer lies. It is a rediscovery of the government's role in business.

The line of distinguished guests includes Sir David Bell, chairman of the Financial Times Group. Bell is also the chairman of Pearson, an international media and education company that owns the Financial Times Group. Pearson is also the owning company of Penguin and Longman.

The economic crisis took centre stage in Bell's speech. Explaining the forces at play, Bell says there are economic cycles and their shapes are massively influenced by two powerful words: greed and fear.

Speaking on the private sector, he says: “Successful businesses create jobs, they create wealth. They are the engine that makes the world better."

As part of the Bangladesh Business Awards 2008, Abdul Monem, chairman and managing director of Abdul Monem Ltd, has been honoured as the Business Person of the Year. The company stands out as an example of rising from nothing to a Tk 800 crore turnover recorded in 2008.

Sabrina Islam, chief executive officer of Reflections, has been named the Outstanding Woman in Business in 2008. With hard work and pragmatism, she built Reflections into the country's leading crafted art glass producer that holds about 40 percent of the total market.

Meghna Group with bicycle manufacture and exports at the core of its business won the award for the Enterprise of the Year.

It did not stop there. From 2000, the group diversified its business portfolio by investing in white cement, table fan and ceiling fan, electric iron, corrugated board and box and composite knitting garments.

The Best Financial Institution of the Year award went to BRAC Bank for helping small enterprises that create jobs for others.

BRAC Bank with institutional shareholdings by BRAC disburses loans for small and medium enterprises -- the amount ranging from Tk 3 lakh to Tk 30 lakh. BRAC Bank focuses more on small and medium enterprises than on the full-fledged corporate sector that accounts for only 20 percent of the bank's total loan portfolio.

The Bangladesh Business Awards, jointly introduced by The Daily Star and DHL Express, were announced for a ninth year giving the champions of a corporate Bangladesh their due recognition.

Dr Salehuddin Ahmed, governor of Bangladesh Bank, attended the programme as chief guest. Also present was DHL's Senior Vice President Malcolm Monteiro.

Monteiro said the current economic crisis is the 'acid test' of fundamentals of business.

"But from our own experience, Bangladesh is among the few economies that come on top in terms of bucking the global trend."

Dr Salehuddin Ahmed, the central bank chief, who handed over the awards to the winners, said Bangladesh is less affected by the global recession.

Appreciating the private sector's contribution to the economy, Ahmed said: "The government should not do business, rather it should create an environment conducive to business."

Ahmed also stressed market regulation to ensure financial discipline. "Business is everything, it covers the entire gamut of life," he believes.

Ahmed also appreciated the role of media in making an environment for business.