Mr Bajloor Rashid is a successful British Bangladeshi entrepreneur and businessmen. He first gained prominence in the early 1980s as the young entrepreneur of the booming curry industry, and has since become one of the most prominent figures in the history of Bangladesh Caterers Association, the largest body of curry house owners and serving as its national President since 2006.
Mr Rashid was born in the village of Balikandi in Moulvi Bazaar, Bangladesh. He first came to the UK in 1978 and ever since has been involved in a number of different business ventures; both on his own and collectively with others which have helped him build an enviable reputation among the ethnic communities in UK.
Soon after his arrival in UK he opened his first restaurant in 1978 in Dover, Kent, a partnership business with his brother. His hard work soon saw him multiplying the number of his restaurants with a rapid growth and at one point the family owned 16 restaurants in and around Ashford.
Mr Rashid has established numerous business entities both in the UK and Bangladesh. His efforts include 15 state-of-the art restaurants, one property company, one insurance company, one hospitality resort and three Medicare service institutions including a 500 bed medical college hospital in Bangladesh.
In 1993 he stepped into the wholesale business of rice and spice whilst simultaneously buying commercial properties forming his property company, Atlantic Properties U.K. as well as Atlantic Properties, Bangladesh. In 1997 he started more work with fellow Bangladeshis on different projects in areas such as travel & tourism which expanded his ever growing business portfolio.
Some of his more prominent roles in joint business ventures include Chairman of Sarina CNG Ltd, Bangladesh; Chairman of Sylhet Parjatan Motel; Director (and former Vice Chairman) of Progressive Life Insurance Co Ltd, Bangladesh, Director, Sylhet Shishu Park, Founder Director, International Medicare Ltd in Bangladesh (a medical college with a 700 bed hospital, nursing college and dental college).
Mr Rashid is a director in the British Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce having previously held the position of finance director and is involved in work helping improve the trade links between the UK and Bangladesh which has culminated in many awareness events including the Bangladesh Expo 2005, held in the Barbican centre in London, which displayed the many goods that Bangladesh has to offer when exporting.
His work in the BCA, an umbrella organisation representing the 12,000 British Bangladeshi restaurateurs stands out the most in his list of achievements; having held positions of Chief Treasurer and Deputy Secretary General in previous committees. Mr Rashid got elected President of the BCA in 2006 & was re-elected in 2009, a position coveted by many. With the help of his trusted colleagues, he has led the way in the fight for the betterment of the curry industry and also better immigration rules to help the survival of the curry industry which has fallen upon hard times recently with the shortages of skilled staff proving to be an ever increasing problem.
To be elected as a BCA President winner requires clear demonstration of leadership at the industry and in the community. Sometimes that comes by sacrificing time that other businessmen commit to strengthening their own profit performances. Mr Rashid was clearly an outstanding restaurateur whose work load was challenging and whose success rate put him among the top of his peers. But since 1990s he changed his priorities and committed most of his times in community upliftment and social service.
It is the breadth and intensity of his leadership experiences that defines Mr Rashid most completely. He got elected as president of BCA, the Bangladesh Caterers Association UK, one of the nation’s oldest, largest, and most-respected community organizations. He joined the association in the 1980s and quickly established himself as a highly confident and able restaurateur with strong potential for leadership. He was destined to become one of the few restaurateurs to attain every rank within the Bangladeshi catering community.
Since becoming president of BCA, Mr Rashid held a number of memorable events to raise awareness of the issue including the BCA Awards held in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 held at prominent venues. His most successful and most memorable venture was a mass demonstration in Trafalgar Square in London which was attended by tens of thousands of people to save the curry industry from imminent collapse. This sparked a debate in the House of Commons just days later about the current set of immigration rules. Undoubtedly Mr Rashid, with his fellow caterers’, will continue his work for this cause and to give back to the industry that gave him so much.
Under his dynamic leadership, BCA recently (October 2010) celebrated its 50th Anniversary of establishment as well as the 200th anniversary of the first opening of a curry house in the UK.
His many career highlights include becoming either director or chairman of 20 different successful companies where he created hundreds of jobs. He says ‘The best way to address social injustice among the have-nots is to teach them skills and get them employed’. He ensured that the members who join BCA have every opportunity to not only develop their business and social skills but also build up their leadership and philanthropic abilities.
As the President of BCA, his inspirational leadership of the great Trafalgar Square demonstration, aimed at drawing govt attention on the problems of curry industry led to Skilled Chefs being included in the shortage occupation list of UKBA in 2008.
The impressive leadership, inspirational ability and drive and enthusiasm Mr Rashid has shown throughout his career for all aspects of ethnic business and community lives made him a nationally known figure among those who made significant contributions in community development and cohesion.
Mr Rashid has worked hard to build up a substantial support network of agencies, working closely with the UK Govt, with No 10, Home office, Ministers, UKBA, MAC, police, members of Parliament, to help support the BCA programmes and the lives of half a million people directly and indirectly dependent on curry industry. His work has been recognised by sitting and immediate past Prime Ministers when they sent messages of support to the BCA programmes and also by newly elected leader of opposition Mr Ed Miliband MP who singled out Mr Rashid’s contribution by making a special mention to his name in a video message in front of 1200 invited guests.
Mr Rashid is passionate about both passing on his expertise to a new generation and raising the profile of the UK curry industry. He said: "We are a community built on curry industry, with the blood, sweat and tears of manual workers, each of whom were proud to do what they did. Perhaps as a nation we need to give our kitchen-staffs the recognition they deserve and improve the perception and social standing of manual workers’.
In addition to his business career, Mr Rashid is a dedicated social worker and has always been in the forefront of all community movements; a member of various organizations. He has built an enviable reputation of being a dependable, hard-working, honest and courteous person. He was the Vice Chairman of UK based Greater Sylhet Development & Welfare Council for two consecutive terms, General Secretary of Moulvibazar Probashi Kollayan Samity (a charity in UK), General Secretary of Greater Sylhet Education Trust, and Vice Chairman of Bangladesh Council in Europe. He was one of the founding members of Immigration Services Office in Sylhet; the first overseas office of UK based charity IAS.
He sees himself as a self engaged Ambassador between Bangladesh and United Kingdom. With his long business career and humanitarian experiences both in Britain and Bangladesh he is well placed to advice both the parties. In the past his advices and concerns were seen to be considered seriously by both the governments. Thus he contributed a lot in the relationship between these two great nations which has been strengthened n the past few years, business exchanges between Bangladesh and the United Kingdom have multiplied, and people-to-people interactions have grown to unprecedented numbers.
A huge believer in training and education and "giving something back to society", and knowing how much it helped him, he now works on plan to produce skilled man power for the curry industry from within UK. By promoting education, training, respect and honesty, Mr. Rashid instils in young people a real sense of purpose and belonging.
Mr Rashid is ever responsive to the causes of the downtrodden, underprivileged and the disaster-stricken needy in the society. He regularly visits Bangladesh and other poorer countries and always looks for ways to help the people who are less fortunate. He has always been in the forefront of any charity campaign that raises money for the disaster hit people of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
In UK he is always concerned about the under-educated and under-skilled ethnic people and focuses his ways to address these issues in a practical way. His dedicated sincerity for the service of the poor, the downtrodden and underprivileged in the society is an epitome of self-assured simplicity. He also symbolises dedication and total service and he is a role model to the future generations of the multicultural Britain.
As one of his friend sums up, `Bajloor is a burning and shining light in the dark hearts of the poor and is a unique personality. He is an outstanding humanitarian who devoted his life to care for the community, the under privileged, the poor, the disaster-stricken and he is the symbol of hope to them’.
Mr Rashid is married with four children and permanently lives at Ashford, Kent, some 55 miles southeast to London. A man of great integrity, Mr Rashid is extremely dedicated to his family and work, and is entirely peace-loving.