EghtesadOnline: Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, as a leading private sector entity, on Monday announced the annual Amin al-Zarb awards and decided to present the entrepreneurship excellence award to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in recognition of his instrumental role in achieving Iran’s nuclear deal.
Implemented in Jan. 2016 after years-long negotiations led by Zarif with world powers, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action provided much-needed relief from unilateral sanctions in return for temporary curbs on Iran’s nuclear program and allowed Iranian businesses to thrive once again.
Apparently unaware that he was to be honored with the award, Zarif was joined on stage at Tehran’s Vahdat Hall by TCCIM Director Masoud Khansari, Iran Chamber of Commerce chief, Gholamhossein Shafei, Industries Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari and Agriculture Minister Mahmoud Hojjati to bestow seven other top entrepreneurs with the Amin al-Zarb badge and two others with the top award.
The minister addressed the large gathering of Iranian businesspeople and media representatives and made two remarks, according to Financial Tribune.
First, he stressed, whatever Iran has today in terms of safety, welfare, development and peace, it is because of its people.
“That is why we must listen to the views, criticisms, opinions and protests of the people wholeheartedly; the same people who keep away from violence and disturbing security and will never condone violence,” Zarif said to ovation, in reference to recent protests in numerous cities in the past 11 days that have turned violent and led to the death of 22 people.
Secondly, he pointed to business ties always taking a priority when compared to political relations and expressed confidence that Iranian entrepreneurs will continue to be pioneers in continuing this culture as they have done for so long.
“Whatever comes out of words will pass; what benefits the people is good deeds that will stay on,” Zarif concluded.
Hope, Devotion Underlined
As Iran is still battling serious afflictions arising from decades of mismanagement and years of sanctions, the theme of keeping up hope and preserving commitment in the face of adversity, best enshrined in the award’s 19th-century namesake Mohammad Hassan Isfahani–well known as Amin al-Zarb or Coin Mint–resounded in the event.
In his address, Khansari, the host of the ceremony, described Amin al-Zarb’s remarkable feats and his rise from humble beginnings, and urged the government to embrace entrepreneurs and celebrate them like the heroes of modern world if it wishes to return vitality to the country and prevent the massive brain drain.
“We have taken the first step with honesty. We will wait for the next step of the government,” Khansari said in the event also held to commemorate the 134th founding anniversary of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce by Mohammad Hossein Amin al-Zarb, the son of the leading trader who himself made history by bringing railroads and electricity to Iran and became a prominent lawmaker in Iran’s first-ever national assembly.
Shafei referred to Amin al-Zarb as the “first industrial investor in Iran’s private sector” who also established the very first electricity and crystallization companies in Iran and prepared the ground for the establishment of the first-ever smelting company in the country.
The head of Iran Chamber of Commerce emphasized that people like the innovative businessman built their enduring reputations on the strength of self-sacrifice, unwavering devotion and by envisioning a brighter future.
The minister of agriculture rejected disappointment and despair as “the biggest sin” and advised those who constantly bemoan that other nations are more advanced to believe in and tap into the hidden capacities of Iran.
The industries minister highlighted the fact that visionaries like Amin al-Zarb always maintained a “comprehensive” outlook that helped them grow their businesses beyond the many boundaries they battled.
Shariatmadari then hailed the 85,000 small- and medium-sized enterprises currently battling their way through a maze of complex and unnecessary regulations and stagnancy, and called for cooperation between the administration, the parliament and commerce chambers to improve the climate of doing business.
In addition to Zarif, the nine other Amin al-Zarb achievers consisted of two entrepreneurs, two veteran tradesmen, two young business owners, two seasoned corporate executives and one scholar.
Before the awards were handed out, a statement by the 15-strong jury was read out, detailing that more than 360 businesses applied for the award and 60 more were introduced by business associations, whereby the final winners were chosen based on 10 globally recognized criteria in eight economic areas.
Ayoub Paydari, who founded the Mihan Industrial Group that has created 13,000 jobs and boasts $50 million in exports in addition to currently holding 65% of the Iranian ice cream market, plus Mehdi Fazli, chief executive of Golrang Industrial Group that has generated 17,000 jobs and is the foremost Iranian hygiene and cosmetics company, were recipients of the two top awards.
Other entrepreneurs honored with an Amin al-Zarb badge were Mohammad Ali Rejali, founder of Zarif Mosavar carpet company, Mohammad Reza Rostami, founder of Maral Sanat Javid trailer company, Ali Asghar Haji Baba with seven decades of experience in radiator production, Ali Naqi Khamousi, a veteran in the textile industry who headed Iran and Tehran commerce chambers for two decades and Mansoureh Etehadieh, an author and academic scholar.
However, the ones getting the biggest rounds of applause were the two younger recipients of the badge, Hesam Armandehi, who founded the massively popular Iranian android marketplace Café Bazaar and online sales service Divar, in addition to Haleh Hamedifar, chief executive of CinnaGen Pharmaceutical Group.