The Oslo Business for Peace Award is given to individuals, not to companies or organizations. The award recognizes the achievements of enlightened businesspersons, who have made outstanding and exemplary advances, to the benefit of both business and society. The Business for Peace Honourees are leaders in the true sense of the word, in that they show the way to a better condition, a better place, a better future.
In her own words, Selima Ahmad of Bangladesh is inspired by her dreams of a better future for Bangladeshis – these dreams fire her dedication and bolster her determination. Not satisfied with being a successful business leader, she has dedicated herself to help women entrepreneurs make the step from micro businesses to more ambitious ventures. That is hard enough in any society, and an even greater challenge in one where women are disadvantaged through tradition and culture.
Selima Ahmad develops entrepreneurial talent and organizes marketing and financial resources to help women expand beyond the micro threshold. To achieve this goal, she founded the Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2001. Before founding one of only two all-female chambers in the world, she worked through the Womens’ National Business Agenda organization, promoting democracy, gender equality, anticorruption and women as entrepreneurs.
The chamber she founded is activist in nature, with resources ready to help members. Corruption is a major problem in Bangladesh, and the chamber’s anti-corruption group is ready to come to the assistance of women who face such unjust hurdles, that are often made near insurmountable because they are women. These advocacy teams are ready to assist in seven divisions across Bangladesh. If a member of the chamber goes to a government office or any other type of office and is faced with corruption, the following day she can return with a group of women, her own legal team promising exposure, to ensure things get done without bribery.
To help women make the leap beyond the micro level, Ms. Ahmad also brings grassroots entrepreneurs to international conventions and gatherings, where they can meet with and be inspired by women who run businesses in other countries. Without fail, they return to Bangladesh eager to tell others of what is possible.
Thousands of women in Bangladesh are now running their own businesses, taking on new challenges and inspiring others to follow their example. In the process, they are opening doors that used to be closed, and achieving greater influence and independence.
Selima Ahmad believes that true leaders are above family, country and friends, and lead because they have a higher calling, to reach and help as many as possible. She feels blessed that she has been able to carry out the work she dreamt of, years ago.
For her true, businessworthy leadership, and her inspirational dedication, showing the way to a better future, Selima Ahmad is named a Business for Peace Honouree.