12 EASTERN EYE January 14, 2011
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AN APPRENTICE ECO WARRIOR
Contestant unveils by NADEEM BADSHAH A FORMER contestant on The Apprentice has launched what he claims is ‘the world’s greenest hand dryer’. Syed Ahmed is founder of SA Vortex, which manufactures ecofriendly hand driers that do not use “conventional electrical heating elements”. The 36-year-old had his doubters when he pitched the idea on a Sky One documentary in 2007, but has gone on to launch the company with investors. He claims using the spinning air hand dryer for 10 years will save a business £16,000 in electricity bills. He said the scathing comments in the documentary from entrepreneurs such as Dragons’ Den star Duncan Bannatyne have spurred him to succeed. Ahmed, who will unveil a lower power model of The Vortex Hand Dryer this month, told Eastern Eye: “There was a lot of talk but that didn’t affect me at all. It actually encouraged me to think bigger and work harder. Everything is a learning curve and you cannot think that you know it all, you are never the finished article. “Duncan is entitled to his opinion, I’ve got bigger fish to fry which is running the business. “But I admire him and entrepreneurs like James Caan and Richard Branson for their success. “I never doubted myself. Against the odds we have set up a manufacturing business, with a design, production, marketing and sales team in the UK.” The product is aimed at businesses including restaurants and leisure centres. Its stakeholders
PIA flights to Lahore axed
PAKISTAN International Airlines (PIA) will stop flying out of Glasgow from next Saturday (22). The carrier said the twiceweekly service to Lahore had been running at a loss. But the decision has angered Glasgow’s Pakistani community. Businessman Shokat Mubarik said: “It will be inconvenient. People from all over Scotland use these flights because it’s quicker to go to Glasgow rather than travel to Manchester.”
include design company Disign Consultants and marketing firm Ingenuity. Ahmed made his name by reaching the final five of series 2 of the Apprentice TV show in 2006 before being eliminated. The British Bangladeshi, who also gives motivational talks, admits he has matured a lot since appearing on the programme. “I look at the bigger picture now and it makes you more humble. When you are young, your enthusiasm can sometimes work against you. You are full of energy which is not channelled correctly. I’ve grown up, I have no regrets. Experiences build character, you must learn from the past and keep creating a positive future. “I would like to support and inspire aspiring Asian entrepreneurs to believe in themselves. “Some Apprentice viewers may think ‘I won’t be selling strawberries or apples’ so what is the relevance of such tasks? However, it’s the process of selling, negotiating and marketing a product that is important. The product can be anything, so it’s all relevant.” Ahmed was not impressed with the last three Apprentice series, but last year’s show was a return to form. “Series 3, 4 and 5 were terrible, it was very Big Brother and showbizy. The candidates could have been better. “In this series, the contestants had good business acumen, were educated, intelligent and had raw business talent.”
WORK SCHEME IS A PLAN that helps people find work in employment blackspots has been saved after an MP protested its imminent axing. Ian Duncan Smith, the secretary of state for Work and Pensions, had scrapped the Employment Zones scheme which offers specialist support for the long-term unemployed as well as lone parents in areas of high unemployment. But pressure from Glasgow Central Labour MP Anas Sarwar has led to the government
extending the scheme until June. The replacement Work Programme is scheduled to be up and running by then. Sarwar said: “The previous Labour government gave Glasgow Employment Zone status precisely because we need extra support for people looking for work. However, Duncan Smith was ready to write off Glasgow’s jobless by withdrawing help six months before his Work Programme is ready.”
REPRIEVED Duncan Smith said: “We are introducing the Work programme as fast as we can, and the summer target for that is critical. It will make a huge difference.” The Work Programme will replace the current Back to Work schemes for unemployed people. The government says it is committed to providing unconditional support for very sick and disabled people. But there are people claiming incapacity benefits who, with help, would be able to work.
Cable is ABA chief guest
BUSINESS secretary Vince Cable MP will be the chief guest at the Eastern Eye Asian Business Awards (ABAs) on Friday, March 18. He will join entrepreneurs, captains of industry, business leaders and community figures at the prestigious event on the Asian business calendar. Cable will make a keynote speech and is expected to touch on the government’s promotion of enterprise, its championing of small businesses and the increasing trade links between Britain and booming India. More than 500 people are expected to attend the high-profile dinner which will take place at a venue in central London to be confirmed nearer the time. Kalpesh Solanki, managing director of the Asian Media & Marketing Group (AMG), publishers of Eastern Eye, said he was delighted one of the government’s most senior figures had agreed to be the chief guest. He said: “It is a great honour for us to have Vince Cable as a chief guest. He has been one of the most cogent commentators on economic affairs in Britain in recent times. His presence shows how much the government values enterprise and entrepreneurship. “It is a signal to the Asian community from the government that it means business and will look to do what it can to help small businesses increase employment and prosperity in difficult times.” Cable was appointed business secretary in May shortly after the formation of the coalition government. He told EE in an interview before the election last year that he wanted to do more to help small businesses. A former economist for oil giants Shell, Cable has been a keen student of the Indian growth story and travelled with David Cameron on the prime minister’s first official visit to India back in July. A widower who has since remarried, his first wife was of Indian origin and he had first visited the country in 1965. You can nominate a business for one of the 10 awards on offer by visiting www.easterneye.eu/ABAwards/ for further details. If you would like to attend the dinner, contact Tanuja Parekh on 020-7654 7740 for table inquiries.