M.A. Kashem: A Pride of Bangladesh


Rabb Majumder

In order to recognize extraordinary people for their great achievements in different fields are being rewarded in glittering and glamorous ceremonies everywhere in the world by the respective governments and organizations. Bangladesh also does to recognize those great individuals for their extraordinary acts of selflessness. In Bangladesh we have innumerable unsung hero and heroines who are involve in great selflessness acts to make the life of others better by dint of their knowledge, strive, perseverance and strong determination.

MA Kashem, a living legend in our society has been spotted by the government and renowned organizations as an extraordinary unsung hero.
Mr. Kashem hails from Feni in an aristocratic family of Sir AF Rahman, one of the founders of Dhaka University has impressed by his enthusiasm, dedication, innovation, acquiring and spreading knowledge, and his kindness.

He was one of the past Presidents of the Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI). The present office of FBCCI was his unique contribution to the history of this apex business body of the country.
A visionary and forward looking genius person MA Kashem conceived the idea to enlighten our society by establishing private university and private banking practice.

He was the founder of Bangladesh’s first private university North-South University. It is the number one private university in the country and has earned reputation at home and abroad. At present the university is providing world class education to almost 22000 students.

MA Kashem is also the founder of Bangladesh’s first private bank National Bank Ltd. The farsighted entrepreneur later established another reputed bank South East Bank Ltd.

A keen golfer, MA Kashem is involved with a lot of social and educational institution like Birdem, Hamdard, Anjuman Mofidul Islam, Rotary Bangladesh, Jahangirnagar University, Open University etc.

He has established state of the art non-profit 50 bed hospital in the name of his disappeared son Tareque Memorial Hospital in his village home Feni.
His contribution was also recognized by the government and the society. He received the “President Export Trophy”, “C R Das Gold Medal” and the honor of Long Term and High Tax Payer-2011 honor in recognition to his contribution to industry, trade and the economy as a whole.

An interview of MA Kashem was published in a book on “MA Kashem: A Living Legend”. This book is not simply a book of biography; it’s actually the story of both a social and a business development of the country. The interview was taken by Sameya Priom. Here we are publishing excerpts of the interview:

Q. As I understand, Since from your childhood you wanted to be a successful businessman. True, people have different ambitions in life, but does it not sound a little out of the way that a young boy will aspire to be an established businessman in life? What in your opinions is the propel of a successful businessman?
Well, I spent my childhood in Kolkata, Chittagong, and Dhaka. During this time, I really went through many hard times as I belonged to a respected middle-class family. My elder brother, who was a government officer, always encouraged me to be a businessman. There was a legitimate reason behind it. During the time, Bangladeshis were not doing well in business like Pakistanis. They were Way more practical and competent in doing business than us. Realizing the fact that the then East Pakistan needed skilled businessman, my elder brother encouraged me to become one. I took his suggestion and became interested to be a successful businessman. I also realized that by becoming a businessman, I’d be able to maintain the expenses of my huge family that I might not be able to maintain if I became a public servant. Considering all those facts, gradually I aspired to be a prominent entrepreneur of my country.
Today I established industries, founded a bank and a renowned university of this country. I’m affiliated with philanthropic Works too. I’m an active Rotarian, and in my home district, I’ve established numerous schools, mosque and madrasas for the betterment of the people of my home district. In memory of my beloved son, I have also established a hospital named, “Tareque Memorial Hospital” in my home district and that is also providing modern treatment to the people in a remote place.
I’m also a founder of a bank (South East Bank) that secured 2nd position among all prominent banks of the country and the first (North South University) and one of the most eminent universities of the country, as I have already mentioned earlier. Government is getting huge revenue from the institutions I founded, established and nurtured like my own children. I certainly believe that I’m contributing to the advancement of my country by creating employment in my eminent institutions and also by paying income taxes to the government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.

Q. What in your opinion are the obstacles that an honest man/woman may encounter in building up himself or herself as a business person?
To be honest, it is hard to be a successful entrepreneur in a country where, of course With many exceptions, people are more or less prone to corruption. Our country is densely populated and it lacks necessary infrastructure, which is crucial, and a sort of pre-requisite to set-up any organization. One more thing I would like to point out is that women comprise the half of our population and they do contribute to the development of a nation. I strongly believe that the lives of businesswomen, should have access to education, healthcare, and all types of credits; they must have the basic legal and human rights so they can participate fully in the political life of our country. Indeed women do matter in the economic and political progress of our country. Women entrepreneurs should be given even more opportunities than their male counterparts to step further ahead.

Q. In the recent time, businessmen and women are eager to come to politics while retaining their ties with their business concern. In fact, more than two-third of the National Parliament comprises big businessmen and women. What is your opinion about this situation? In what ways does it harm or benefit the country?

Ans. It is, noticeable that now-a-days many businessmen are seen taking active part in politics. I certainly believe that they are benefitting our nation’s politics and they are benefitting national trade and commerce too. Since they are also the part of the current political party that is in power, they are getting better opportunity to represent their institutions overseas and therefore, contributing to the advancement of the nation.

Q. What do you think about the state of affairs in business in Bangladesh today? Where do you see Bangladesh fifty years from now?
Bangladesh is progressing and I suppose within a decade, it will reach the peak of success. The current prime minister Sheikh Hasina, daughter of the father of the nation, Bangobandhu Sheikh Mujib has already introduced many profitable projects like the establishment of new power station to improve the shortage of electricity; flyovers to improve road communication; and the most important project called “Padma Bridge” and “metro rail” to reduce the existing traffic crisis in the capital. I’m confident that within a decade or may be less than a decade we shall be able to compare our country with any developed country of the world.

Q. After a tenacious struggle, you have achieved this success in life. You are a self-made person. The younger generation of businessmen and women would love to hear some words of inspiration from you. What will you say to them?
Well, there is no shortcut to success. To be a successful businessman, one should be honest, hardworking, intelligent, competent and devoted to his or her work. I had always been confident to take new challenges. I faced innumerable obstacles on my way to success; however, I dealt with them with tenacity and gradually I reached the pinnacle of fame and success. Fate never betrays a person who has a real record of being able to deliver progress. People who aspire to be a successful entrepreneur must be ready to take new challenges and they should have the courage to nail it, I suppose.
MA Kashem is one of the handful of outstanding citizens who become living legend in Bangladesh. He is known as an institution and a much-loved and respected figure in the business and education sectors in our country.

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