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PROFILE


to make that sacrifice and the hard work and long hours it involves.” He is quick to point out that nothing would be possible without the support of his wife and three children. Rafique added: “I work hard but so does my wife and I’m lucky to have a partner who is so understanding. I’m what I am because of my family, not in spite of it.” He is also mindful of the need to put something back into the community and funds a host of community activities and events as well as associate businesses. He is director of a trade organisation, British-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce. His unique experience of the import business gleaned from more than 25 years in the industry also led him to establish the Bangladeshi Fruit and Vegetables Importers Association more than a decade ago. The organisation lobbies governments at home and abroad on issues effecting traders, such as unfair taxes, freight charges and a temporary ban on some Bangladeshi vegetables until the use of a particular pesticide was withdrawn. One of the association’s biggest successes was helping lift a ban on cargo from Bangladesh being flown into the UK because of concerns around security at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. Rafique Haider, who is the association’s president, said: “The British Government weren’t happy with the security checks


on cargo being flown out of Bangladesh and the threat of weapons or a bomb being smuggled on board. “It was making life hard for everyone because Bangladesh Biman Airlines was carrying around 100 tonnes of goods a week on its direct flights.” “The best way to resolve any problem is to sit down, recognise one another’s concerns and find a common way forward.” At present, Bangladesh’s economy is booming and Rafique is taking the opportunity to introduce some new products rarely seen in the UK before including Bangladesh’s fragrant small grained rice. “The rice is very distinct and one of our best kept secrets. I think people will really get a taste for it if we can market it properly.” “Business isn’t static and you have to be flexible and willing to try new things or you get left behind.” He is the first to admit that supermarket chains inclusion of ethnic food sections in recent years has effected business but plans to leap frog back into contention by supplying the big names with their produce. Initial talks have been fruitful and a global network of suppliers gleaned from more than 25 years in the business means he is well placed to meet demand. “I’ve got so much more I would like to achieve in business. The opportunity is always there. You just have to be bold enough to take it.”


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