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FEATURE


Challenges of Economic Downturn British Bangladeshi Enterprises


In the current climate of global economic gloom and the slump in the UK with deep cuts in the public services, rising unemployment, soaring costs of living, the reluctance of banks to offer loans to established and new small and medium sized enterprises, immigration restrictions on chefs from abroad, volatility in the market and the lack of robust government strategies for growth, we appear to be in for a prolonged bumpy ride.


However, British Bangladeshis have always been resilient whatever


the challenge. Apart


occupations and professions, we have also made inroads into many areas of


the British economy including catering, hospitality, media, retail businesses and services.


Although no in-depth research has been carried out on the impact of the sluggish economy on Bangladeshi businesses, there is a general consensus that takeaways should fare better than restaurants since they are a more affordable luxury; importing expensive perishable groceries may take a hit, but


frozen fish, meat and vegetables sold cheaper than in the supermarkets may flourish. Although there will always be a mainstream market for curry and a niche market for specific ethnic products, during austere times, consumers will try to skimp and save. So what can Bangladeshi or other businesses do to deal with the recession?


Ideas for sustainability and growth We know, one size does not fit all. However, the following ideas might help:


1. In more challenging times, hang on to your best employees and go for collaborative management by involving them and using their insights and experiences to find ways of cutting costs without compromising the quality of your products/services. If you look after them, they will look after you. 2. Since it is more difficult to bring chefs in from Bangladesh, train up enthusiastic local men and women who are committed to the industry and will welcome new skills. 3. Encourage your customers to give you their honest opinions about the quality of your products/services and ask


Whatever enterprises we are involved with; we must hold our nerves, work hard, plan well, execute our plans well and equip ourselves to be able to harvest the silver-linings even from the darkest of clouds.


Curry & Tandoori | Volume 11 | December 2011 from being in diverse them to improvement and


suggest also


new services people may need. These views should be used to drive up quality and diversify your business if possible. 4. Continue compliant legislation


all


employment Health


and


to remain with


including legislation, Safety


Regulations and VAT requirements. 5. Be rigorous about realistic business planning, budget management, forecasts, market analyses and performance management. If you are not doing well in some areas, find out why and take corrective measures immediately. If something is working well for you, find out why and apply those factors to succeed in other areas also. 6. In this age of hard competition, use all possible avenues to publicise your business/services widely and continually and also beyond your traditional customer groups. 7. Be innovative and productive considered diversifying into new opportunities. Find gaps in the market and try to fill them. For example, local authority cuts may create a need for low cost private services such as nursing and caring for the elderly with dementia and people with long-term conditions - especially among minority ethnic communities. New ways of combining resources through mergers and partnerships may help create a sustainable future for small and struggling caterers.


Conclusions Closing the shutters down and waiting for good times to return is not an option. There are opportunities even in the bleakest


circumstances. Minority ethnic communities,


including British Bangladeshis, are talented, enterprising, innovative and resilient. We must plan for survival and growth, both for the immediate and longer term future, cut any fat in our establishments and carry out efficiency savings without losing quality. We must maintain rigorous performance management and have alternative plans and options to fall back on when necessary.


Whatever enterprises we are involved with; we must hold our nerves, work hard, plan well, execute our plans well and equip ourselves to be able to harvest the silver-linings even from the darkest of clouds. We must not let our young people down by putting them into a poverty trap.


By Dr Nazia Khanum OBE Director, Equality in Diversity


The Bangladesh Cuisine  17


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