Applause, cheers and a few tears as BME winners revealed
- Credit: Archant
There was applause, cheers and a few tears, too, as the winners of the 2019 Suffolk BME Business Awards were revealed at the University of Suffolk.
The awards, which celebrate the diversity and achievements of the BME business community across Suffolk, attracted a record number of entries this year from as far as Lowestoft and Newmarket, Bury St Edmunds and Sudbury.
The awards night was hosted at the University of Suffolk, where the Business School is an original partner in the awards scheme.
Dozens of finalists and friends, sponsors, judges and dignitaries including three mayors and Tim Passmore Suffolk's police and crime commissioner, were present to share Indian food and join in the celebrations.
It was a great networking event, too.
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The finalists, in eight categories and with a special judges' award as well, represented family businesses and single business people, through small and medium size businesses across a wide area.
Brad Jones, editor of the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star praised the finalists and winners.
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He said: "You are inspiration to other people.
"We are really, really proud to be involved in this initiative again. Back in 2016 there were small beginnings with 40 to 50 entries. There is a record number this year representing dozens of communities.
"It speaks volumes of the breadth of the turn out here. It probably shows a growing confidence as well.
"Suffolk is a diverse community and it is really important we celebrate that, and the great work that goes on.
"You will inspire other people to go out and do great things."
Mr Jones said it was great to see so many keen entrepreneurs.
"You have a big impact economically and socially in Suffolk."
The theme was echoed by Mahbub Alam Shamim, of organisers BSC Multicultural Services.
He said: "We have been serving our community for last 20 years.
"This evening celebrates the achievements of the BME business community in the county. We have changed the perception as well as showcasing these achievements."
Tim Passmore stressed that a healthy business community, creating employment, confidence and wealth, was itself a way of fighting crime.
He said: "This is growing from strength to strength. I feel this is a really powerful signpost of economic entrepreneurship and wealth being created by people of different ethnicity."
The 2019 winners are:
Start-Up Business of the Year
International restaurant La Sofre in Tacket Street, Ipswich, offers Albanian, Romanian and English foods, and cocktails too, over three floors. Manager Marc Wilson said: "We wanted to offer something different, for lots of different people. Everyone is welcome. This is Ipswich."
Community Business of the Year
Indian Village, established more than 20 years in Felixstowe Road, Ipswich, the restaurant has had a long standing commitment to local charities and community causes.
Charity of the Year
Suffolk Refugee Support was formed 20 years ago to help refugees and asylum seekers and provides a wide range of services, from legal to homework clubs and language classes. Receiving the award Yacine Khiat-Selfe made an impassioned plea for support for its work. "It is needed more than ever," he said.
Remi Morrison established Red Cactus Media after following work in music and media PR. Now her video making company is growing with a client base which includes national and international brands and a wide variety of projects.
Business of the Year (Catering)
Montaz Restaurant, in Newmarket, was established by Gulam Mobin to offer new and innovative Indian food. It has built up a reputation for high quality food using fresh local produce.
Clem Turner founded the Caribbean and African Community Health Forum in Ipswich in 2009. It encourages everything from exercise classes and football to cooking and other events and activities.
Business Person of the Year
Rana Miah, of Ipswich Mortgage Centre, took over that business 10 years ago and it now employs more than 30 staff in three locations.
Business of the Year
Francesco Hair Salon, the Ipswich family hairdressers and barbers have been serving the local community for 20 years and also demonstrate skills at a range of national and international events.
Judges' Special Prize
Shabir Mughal, of AA Motor Medic, has grown his Ipswich garage for the past 10 years, including training and developing staff. He was also praised for his charity work, helping refugees abroad in France and Greece, and more locally in Suffolk.