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Two businesses,Two individuals honoured

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One non-bank financial institution, a business enterprise and two individuals have been honoured, not only for transforming own ideas into symbols of success but also for triumphing over adversity.

As they were presented with the 14th Bangladesh Business Awards yesterday, DHL Express and The Daily Star recognised their excellence in business as well as reminded them of social responsibilities.

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed gave away the trophies to the winners at a colourful ceremony at Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka last night (28 March 2014).

The Best Financial Institution of the Year went to Delta Brac Housing Finance Corporation Ltd (DBH), one of the top non-bank financial institutions, for providing the middle and lower middle class with an opportunity to own houses in metropolitan cities.

In a fiercely contested market, DBH has shown consistent growth and exceeded revenue targets for three successive years from 2010, and the growth in revenue and deposits over the last fiscal was nearly 24 percent.

Chittagong-based Habib Group, which has emerged as a leading conglomerate from a regional trading house in six decades, got the Enterprise of the Year award for delivering products and service of the highest standards.

With diverse interests in aviation, cement, garment, fertiliser, energy, power and steel, the group earns over $425 million in revenues each year. It employs more than 20,000 people.

Tania Wahab, owner of Karigar, a brand of customised leather products, was honoured as the Outstanding Woman in Business for her steady journey towards fames from scratches in less than a decade. The 32-year-old has already become a role model for budding entrepreneurs.

The Lifetime Contribution Award was given to 80-year-old Laila Rahman Kabir for her services to the economy in general and women’s empowerment in particular.

A former president of Association of Tea Planters of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Employers Federation and Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Laila Kabir built her Kedarpur Tea Company despite financial difficulty, little demand in the domestic market and lack of international buyers in the 70s.

Quazi M Shariful Ala, managing director of the DBH; Yasin Ali, managing director of Habib Group; Tania Wahab and Laila Kabir received the trophies.

DHL Express, the world’s top logistics company, and The Daily Star, the country’s leading English newspaper, launched the awards in 2000 to celebrate the achievements of local businesses and entrepreneurs.

Last night’s award gala began with a dance performance from Pallavi Dance Group.

In his address, Tofail Ahmed said Bangladesh’s business community is so capable that everyone can be proud of. “The country’s businesses have become the engine of growth of the country,??? he said. “Our exports growth for the current fiscal year is on target despite political unrest last year.???

The minister added that if businesses could be kept out of politics, the country can grow further. Sanjiv Mehta, executive vice president of Unilever South Asia, delivered a keynote speech.

He said instead of running only after profit, businesses have to be caring about the society and environment for sustainable growth.

“We believe if we do the right thing for a consumer, a customer, an employee and the society, shareholder value will [automatically] get created.???

Desmond Quiah, country manager of DHL Express, said his company was proud to join The Daily Star in recognising the outstanding achievements in the business and corporate world of Bangladesh.

He said every year they look at the successes of the businesses and become amazed to see even stronger commitment from entrepreneurs and innovators to overcome any odd.

“Today we are the second largest garment exporting country. We show strong growth potential in pharmaceuticals, footwear and leather sector; our small entrepreneurs are eyeing towards global possibilities on information and communication technology businesses and many more,??? he said.

“I believe excellence in business is going to be the core of us in the days to come.???

He said 2013 was a year of uncertainty and unpredictability mainly due to political unrest and deadly industrial disasters which dealt a serious blow to the businesses and the economy.

“But as in the past, our economy and businesses have showed great resilience in facing tough situation. We are here to celebrate the resilience the businesses have showed.???

He called for consistent policy framework and environment enabling the businesses to contribute further to the development of the economy.

Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of The Daily Star, said over the years, Bangladesh’s business leaders, through hard work, creativity and ability to take risks, have competed with the best and the brightest and secured their place in the world.

“Bangladeshi businesses are capable of producing goods and services which can be competitively sold anywhere in the world.”

“From the corporate world, Bangladesh now expects better, future-looking and visionary worker-owner relationship,??? Mahfuz Anam said.

“We also want the businesses to be environmentally sensible.”

He said the country’s corporate world has created jobs and wealth and built institutions. “But much of the pollution that is destroying the four rivers around the Dhaka city unfortunately comes from the private enterprises.

“We have to be more environment-friendly if we really love our cities. We can’t have industries that destroy our rivers. We can’t have production that pollutes our air. That is not progress; that is building something in one hand and taking away something in another.”

He called for a more efficient, productive and transparent management system from the corporate world, as the management actually transforms a sick company into a thriving one.

“We are asking more from the corporate world because it has proven that it can deliver.???

In her immediate reactions, Tania Wahab said creativity, honesty and confidence helped her achieve an astounding growth in business and built her own brand. She urged the government to provide policy support so women entrepreneurs could tap into the local market now depending on imports.

Laila Kabir said new entrepreneurs should not be worried about allowing workers to unionise. “Otherwise, the industries will suffer. In tea estates, we have unions, but we don’t have problems.???

Over 300 noted businesspeople, diplomats, bureaucrats, politicians, entrepreneurs, celebrities, civil society members and academics attended the ceremony.

Before yesterday’s event, 54 individuals and enterprises were given the country’s most prestigious business award since 2000.

They all had the urge to make a difference and create an environment of excellence and competitiveness in business. They have set examples for the business community to help achieve greater heights of productivity, efficiency, financial discipline and modern management. The Daily Star and DHL Express pay tribute to these corporate luminaries.

Best Financial Institution

A top-choice financier

Delta Brac Housing Finance Corporation Ltd (DBH) began its journey in 1997 with the sole aim of providing financial services for the purchase of flats or construction of houses.

Nearly two decades in, it has not only become a top choice financier but has found strong foothold to become a top non-bank financial institution.

Until DBH made its first appearance, home loans were limited to a single state-run company.
As the company saw consistent and commendable growth in creating home ownership in major metropolitans, it was picked for The Daily Star-DHL Business Award this year.

Debuting with Tk 2.5 crore in capital, it now boasts to be worth Tk 3,000 crore. DBH’s net profit rose 30.72 percent to Tk 52.84 crore in 2012-13, from Tk 40.42 crore in the previous year. It disbursed Tk 5,000 crore in home loans till date, with an average loan size of Tk 23 lakh.

Sound management practices coupled with integrity have paid dividends for DBH as it earned the ‘AAA’ credit rating for the last eight consecutive years.

Quazi M Shariful Ala, managing director of DBH, attributed the success to financial safety, security and strength.

With five branches, the company manages a customer base of 23,000. DBH has shown consistent growth and exceeded revenue targets for three successive years from 2010 to 2013.

 Lifetime Contribution Award

She fought all odds

Laila Rahman Kabir is widely recognised as one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country. But her long illustrious career has been anything but smooth.

Her entrepreneurship skills are rooted in the tea industry. She stepped into the sector when the country was facing the most difficult period, trying to recover from the destruction caused by the Liberation War.

DHL Express and The Daily Star have honoured her with Lifetime Contribution Award as she built her company almost from scratch.

In the 1960s, her family bought Kedarpur Tea Company Ltd, which was set up in 1924. It was run by her husband in the early years.

The management of the gardens was entrusted upon her in 1971 when her husband was arrested and jailed. She had to step in as the gardens were the only source of income for the family.

Laila is the managing director of the company that employs 1,729 people and sells nearly a million kilograms of tea a year. Its sales stood at Tk 22 crore in fiscal 2012-13 with an annual sales growth of 3.5 percent.

Laila said succeeding in a man’s world was a challenge for her. “But I never felt that it was difficult to work in a man’s world.”

She said Bangladesh has progressed a lot despite all hiccups. “We can grow faster if we can run the country in a better way.”

 Enterprise Of The Year

A driver of growth

Riding on quality products and services, Habib Group has continued its growth by adding one venture after another to its name to become a leading conglomerate in Bangladesh.

The Chittagong-based firm was founded in 1947, mainly as a trading company. However, in the last three decades, it diversified and branched out into the areas of aviation, cement, garments and textiles, fertiliser, power and energy, and steel.

Now in its second generation of family ownership, the group’s annual turnover is $425 million and it employs more than 20,000 people.

The group saw its revenue grow at 10 percent a year for the last decade and raked in a profit of $25 million last fiscal year.

“We don’t go for higher growth by compromising on product and service quality and commitment,” said Yasin Ali, managing director of the group and the youngest son of the group’s founder, the late Md Habib Ullah Meah.

Over the decades, Habib Group has maintained its unflinching commitment to delivering products and services of the highest standards to its various consumer groups.

Relentless efforts to enliven the country’s economy have earned the group a prestigious recognition this year — The Daily Star-DHL Business Award.

Valiant Garments, Regent Power, Diamond Cement, NCC Bank, Continental Insurance, and Regent Airways are a few of its brands.

Ali said constant innovation, research and development, and training for employees are driving the group towards a higher growth trajectory and helping to diversify business.

 Outstanding Woman In Business

Carving a path

Not too long ago, Tania Wahab set up a small footwear factory — Karigar, with hardly any cash in hand and no support from family.

Nine years later, Tania expanded operations to make purses, bags, wallets, belts, and many other leather products, and she was swamped with work orders.

“It was a difficult start for me; my family did not support me and I was staying at my college dormitory at the time,??? said the 32-year-old.

The Daily Star and DHL honoured her as she successfully transformed the small venture and became a supplier of exclusive leather products.

She established ‘Karigar’ (maker) in 2005 after she completed her BSc from Bangladesh College of Leather Technology in Dhaka.

Starting with a capital of Tk 10,000 from private tuitions, Tania, managing partner of the firm, first bought a sewing machine, hired a worker and began work in a small room in Hazaribagh.
Her firm now produces 800 jackets, 3,000 bags and 10,000 other leather products a month. Tania now makes items for several universities, banks, corporate houses and boutiques.

She built Karigar into a Tk 34 lakh venture in 2013, with about 50 percent year-on-year growth. Her first direct export went to the UK in 2008, along with some items to Switzerland. Since last year, she has been exporting to India and Cambodia. Karigar now employs 20 people as regular workers at the Hazaribagh factory and 100 more irregular workers.

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Report: Sarwar A Chowdhury, Md Fazlur Rahman, Dwaipayan Barua & Md Fazlur Rahman
Source: Daily Star

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