Awards to celebrate success of Asian businesses

Ajaz Ahmed: 'Asian businesses have moved to the next level and we're seeing them doing things that we've never seen before.' 'Picture: simon hulme
Ajaz Ahmed: 'Asian businesses have moved to the next level and we're seeing them doing things that we've never seen before.' 'Picture: simon hulme
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Success of the region’s Asian businesses will be celebrated at an awards ceremony held by Yorkshire Asian Business Association (Yaba).

Asian people are now involved in a more diverse range of industries than ever before, according to entrepreneur Ajaz Ahmed.

Mr Ahmed, the president of Yaba, told The Yorkshire Post that he expected the standard of entries to be very high.

He said: “I think 20 years ago Asian businesses were traditionally corner shops, takeaways, things like that, but as I go around now Asian businesses have moved to the next level and we’re seeing them doing things that we’ve never seen before.

“I think sometimes people’s perceptions are one thing but Asian businesses have moved on to other things now.”

It’s not just businesses that will be recognised at the awards. There is also a Professional of the Year category, that recognises individuals generally.

Mr Ahmed, who co-founded Freeserve, said: “The other thing of course we’ve got is Asian professionals doing things in legal professions, in accounting, in medicine. We’re seeing professionals in all sorts of industries that we never used to see before.”

This year’s awards will differ from previous editions with the judging taking place electronically over the internet, instead of the judges meeting in person.

The judging panel includes Mr Ahmed; Natalie Sykes, regional director of the IoD Yorkshire, and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi amongst many others.

“We have got a system where the entries will be sent out to the various judges. They go on the internet and they mark all the entries over the internet using technology,” said Mr Ahmed.

He added that one of the key things that the judges will be looking for is the ability to articulate. Mr Ahmed said: “It’s about the people who have entered and their ability to articulate and them being able to get their message across.

“They’re really simple questions but they get people to think.”

Despite the big strides that the Asian community has made in business, stereotypes remain, says Mr Ahmed.

He said: “We still are battling stereotypes because people when they’re coming into contact with Asians, they come into contact with Asians who are taxi drivers, who have got corner shops, who have got takeaways.

That’s their day-to-day contact with Asians.

“It’s up to organisations like Yaba to break those stereotypes. It’s also up to Asians to be more successful and become part of people’s everyday lives.

“The other thing that people don’t realise is some of the biggest retailers out there have been Asians.

“New Look, Bon Marche were started by Asians. But because of the fact that those Asians aren’t standing behind the counter and serving those customers, people don’t know that the people behind those businesses were Asians.”

The bedding industry is one where Asians have made a huge contribution, says Mr Ahmed.

“One of the most amazing facts, that blows people away, is that about 90 per cent of all the beds in this country are made by Asians in the Batley, Dewsbury area,” he said.

The awards are important because Yaba is well know in the area said Mr Ahmed.

He added: “I think having awards and celebrating the success of Asian businesses is something that should be encouraged and is something we should be doing on a regular basis.”

The Yorkshire Post is a media partner for the awards. Judging for the awards takes place over the next two weeks and the winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Cedar Court Hotel, Bradford on September 24.

The seven categories

There are seven awards up for grabs at this year’s Asian Business Awards: Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year; Food & Drink Business of the Year; International Business of the Year; Retail Business of the Year; SME Business of the Year; and Professional of the Year.

There will also be a Special Award for outstanding contribution to business and the economy. Last year the awards raised over £5,000 for Yorkshire Air Ambulance and this year Yaba will be raising money for Yorkshire Cancer Trust.

Mr Ahmed said it was an exciting time for Asian businesses in Yorkshire.