Entrepreneur Latifur Rahman on receiving prestigious Business for Peace Award

Business for Peace Foundation Chairman Per Saxegaard, left, hands over Business for Peace Award 2012 to Transcom Group Chairman and ICC Bangladesh Vice-President Latifur Rahman in Oslo City Hall, Norway.
Bangladesh’s businesses must maintain globally-accepted standards and ethics no matter whether they operate in the USA or Norway, said country’s top entrepreneur Latifur Rahman.

“Our businesses and the way we are connected with the world, our standard has to be the same no matter where they operate,” said Rahman, chairman and chief executive officer of Transcom Group.

Gone are the days when one could say that Bangladesh’s standards would have to be different because it is a developing country, he told a group of businessmen and economists at a ceremony in Oslo on Monday.

“In order to build sustainable businesses that bring benefits to the shareholders, employees and the larger community, it is obvious that the management has to behave in a socially responsible and ethical manner if it wants to succeed in the long term,” Rahman said.

He made the comments after receiving the coveted “Business for Peace Award” in the Norwegian capital for his leadership, integrity, ethical standards and business acumen.

Rahman, also vice president of International Chamber of Commerce, Bangladesh (ICC-B), is the first Bangladeshi to win the award.

“It [Transcom Group] generates a significant number of employment in a country like Bangladesh, where unemployment rate is high. Providing stable and sustainable employment is a satisfaction,” a jubilant Rahman said in his immediate reaction.

“I hope the award that I have been given will remain as an ideal and inspiration for Bangladesh’s business community and our colleagues in the group.”

He said it would also inspire new entrepreneurs. “With this award our responsibility expands. These standards have to be maintained as individuals and a business organisation.

“My being bestowed this unique and prestigious honour by the Business for Peace Foundation, in a sense, puts greater responsibility on myself and the Transcom Group to be even more conscious of its social responsibilities and ensure ethical business practices in the years to come in order to succeed and help Bangladesh find its rightful place in the global context.”

ICC-B President Mahbubur Rahman, who was also present at the ceremony, said, “The award gives us a ray of hope. People like Latifur Rahman have shown that one can achieve a huge success by doing business properly and transparently.”

Entrepreneurs will be inspired by seeing this type of achievement. It will be helpful for the country’s businesses, he said.

Conferred annually since 2009, the award is the highest distinction given to a businessperson for outstanding accomplishments in the area of ethical business.

The recognition has put Latifur Rahman in the group of exceptional business personalities like Ratan Tata, chairman of India’s Tata Group, who got the award in 2010, and Jeffrey R Immelt, CEO of USA’s General Electric, who won it in 2009.

Transcom Group’s growth has taken place under adherence to ethical and responsible business practices that serve as a guideline for other businesses in the region, according to a citation by the Oslo-based Business for Peace Foundation.

The Group is one of the highest payers of corporate tax, VAT and import duty in Bangladesh, with a clean bank record. The companies in the Group also adhere to labour standards and industrial laws, said the Foundation.

“Other businesses in the region look up to Latifur Rahman for leadership and guidance for his integrity, ethical standards and business acumen — well illustrated by Mr Rahman’s re-election as the chairman of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry for a total of seven terms,” read the citation.

This year, six honourees, including Latifur Rahman, have been selected out of 90 candidates from 60 countries. The other five recipients are Ibrahim Abouleish (Egypt), Eduardo Eurnekian (Argentina), Vladas Lasas (Lithuania), David W MacLennan (USA), and Reginald A Mengi (Tanzania).

They all made promises to help establish peace in the society through business.

An independent committee of Nobel Prize winners in peace and economics selects the recipients. The committee consists of Prof Muhammad Yunus, winner of 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, and Prof A Michael Spence, 2001 Nobel laureate in economic sciences.

Prof Wangari Maathai (2004 Nobel laureate), who died on September 25 last year, was the third member of the committee.

The supporting partners of the Business for Peace Foundation are ICC, World Chambers Federation, the City of Oslo, the Oslo Chamber of Commerce, and the initiators of the Oslo World Trade Centre.

The Business for Peace Foundation believes that socially responsible and ethical initiatives will stand the test as a business case, and gradually, as the moral culture of corporations matures, will constitute an integrated part of modern business.

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