Bouncing back from redundancy, creating new start-ups, and supporting key workers were among the achievements of award winners at this year's Suffolk BME Business Awards. 

For the first time since 2019, BSC Multicultural Services was able to honour in person the actions and successes of businesses run by members of the black and ethnic minority communities. 

Now in its fifth year, the awards had more than 100 nominations for dozens of nationalities vying to be named the winner in one of nine categories. 

Mojulum Khan, co-ordinator of the awards for BSC Multicultural Society, said: "Over the last five years, through these awards BSCMS has been able to shed a positive light on the economic contribution and achievements of ethnic minority people across Suffolk.

"At a time when migrant communities are constantly in the news due to national and international political tensions and economic uncertainties, these awards have thrown much-needed light on the value of migration.

"There are now literally hundreds of BME businesses, both small and large, located across the county, employing thousands of people of diverse background and contributing millions of pounds to the local economy."

The event was sponsored by SAI Estate Agents and Kersey Solicitors and supported by the University of Suffolk, Ipswich borough and Suffolk County Council and the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star. 

The full list of winners are:

Ipswich Star: Agnes Cole Consulting won Start-Up of the Year.Agnes Cole Consulting won Start-Up of the Year. (Image: Newsquest)

Start-Up of the Year

  • Lucky’s Coffee Shop
  • Turkoman Bar and Grill
  • Agnes Cole Consulting
  • Chequers Indian Lounge
  • Minuteman Press

Agnes Cole Consulting began in October 2021 by Leon Mitton who came to the UK at a young age from Zimbabwe.

Working within IT & Technology recruitment, they already have a large network of contract and permanent consultants and five employees.

The company has also pledged to sponsor a charity in Africa working with children in 2023. The judges awarded this first award due to their exceptional growth in their very first year.

Ipswich Star: Mohammed Ali and Rupa Ahmed from Eastern Spice with Community Business of the Year award. Mohammed Ali and Rupa Ahmed from Eastern Spice with Community Business of the Year award. (Image: Newsquest)

Community Business of the Year

  • Al Amin Halal Grocery
  • Eastern Spice
  • Nacton Road Fish Bar
  • Bella Napoli Express
  • ABC Connect

Since 1998 Eastern Spice has looked to give back to the community. 

Owner Mohammed Ali can be found in the kitchen cooking up meals for customers and recently saw daughter-in-law Rupa Ahmed join the team in marketing.

Judges highlighted two projects by the family run business including its offer for NHS workers to get 50% off their bill during Covid. 

Mrs Ahmed, who was hospitalised with Covid, saw the work of frontline staff first hand which led them to come up with the half price deal for all NHS workers.

In addition the business was recognised by England star Marcus Rashford after providing free hot meals to 140 school children who would have gone hungry.

Mrs Ahmed said: "'I asked could we do this?' he didn't think twice. He's the head of the business, the heart of the business, he will do anything for the community."

Not content with just those two initiatives at a time when the whole community was struggling they also fed elderly people with free dinners who were shielding delivered to their door.

Ipswich Star: The team of PHOEBE with the award for Charity of the Year. The team of PHOEBE with the award for Charity of the Year. (Image: Newsquest)

Charity of the Year

  • Gambian Welfare
  • Suffolk Kurdish Society
  • Caribbean & African Community Health Support Forum (CACHSF)
  • Karibu

Since 2008 PHOEBE has been committed to stopping violence against woman and girls, advocating women’s rights and supporting woman and girls to improve their quality of life.

Targetting woman and children from Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and also migrant communities who suffer from poverty, mental health issues, maternal inequalities, inaccessibility to public services, offering educational opportunities and helping those suffering from domestic abuse.

"It makes me feel so happy," said a charity representative on the win. 

Ipswich Star: Imani Sorhaindo was crowned winner of Woman Entrepreneur of the Year.Imani Sorhaindo was crowned winner of Woman Entrepreneur of the Year. (Image: Newsquest)

Woman Entrepreneur of the Year

  • Justina Adamska (Salami Deli)
  • Karen Walker (Karmartri Ltd)
  • Shirley Powell (Your Life in Your Hands)
  • Imani Sorhaindo (KMT Rising Ltd)
  • Monika Erdogan (Shish Anatolia)

Imani Sorhaindo is well known in the local community as an adult education manager and community leader. Her business established in 2020 empowers the health and well being of her clients.

"I was made redundant and had to hit the ground running," she told the room.

Ipswich Star:  Zaynab Indian Cuisine with the Catering Business of the Year. Zaynab Indian Cuisine with the Catering Business of the Year. (Image: Newsquest)

Catering Business of the Year

  • Ocean Fish Platter
  • Zaynab Indian Cuisine
  • Nacton Road Fish Bar
  • Brandon Tandoori
  • Ballingdon Valley Indian Cuisine
  • Maharani

Established in 2017, Zaynab’s food is rooted in the traditional foundations of Indian cooking. However, the chefs evolve their dishes by watching current food trends both in Indian and Internationally.

Speaking on the win, the business's owner said: "We can say every year business is growing. We want to keep the quality and the standard, it is not about getting busier, it is about people coming to us and providing the best customer service and maintaining that quality."

He added in the time of cost of living, they were fortunate that they were locked into pre-Covid bills when other businesses are seeing spiralling costs and may face the threat of closure.

The cost of products such as chicken has increased to £55, with cooking oil up from £19 to £42.

Ipswich Star: Bal Howard presents Shirley Powell with the Health Champion of the Year award. Bal Howard presents Shirley Powell with the Health Champion of the Year award. (Image: Newsquest)

Health Champion

  • Motin Khan Ipswich Cycling Community (ICC)
  • Clem Turner (Caribbean and African Community Health Support Forum)
  • Shirley Powell (Your Life in Your Hands)
  • Mamum Alom 
  • Imani Sorhaindo (KMT Rising Ltd)

Shirley Powell is a co-author, registered general nurse, health and lifestyle coach and mentor. She is also a local pastor and the CEO and founder of Your Life in Your Hands which was established in 2016. Her aim is to help clients live and stay well. By raising health awareness, and promoting self-care to people with not only physical but also mental health and long-term conditions.

Mrs Powell said it was a special moment having had a tough year following her own health issues. 

Ipswich Star: Karen Walker won Business Person of the Year. Karen Walker won Business Person of the Year. (Image: Newsquest)

Business Person of the Year

  • Roland Gilbertson (ThinkBiznes)
  • Chandima Perara (IPS ONE)
  • Muminur Rahman “Iqbal” (ADM Associates)
  • Jetnor Brati
  • Karen Walker (Karmartri Ltd)

Karen Walker established Karmartri Ltd in 2020 despite already running a credit union, being a mentor for young students and a volunteer for local charities and holding down a corporate role too.

KarMarTri helps and supports people with Create Your Life workshops and online forums to help people to clear obstacles out of their life path and to discover their potential. Karen offers this service in particular to families and young people creating space for them to creatively discover their future selves.

Empowering them to lead fulfilling and responsible lives.

Miss Walker said she hoped being authentic had helped people connect with her business.

She said the business was "to help people tap into their own potential and slay that dragon that has kept them back and kept them from doing what they can achieve".

Ipswich Star: Roland Gilbertson, of ThinkBiznes, was presented with the Business of the Year award by Nadia CenciRoland Gilbertson, of ThinkBiznes, was presented with the Business of the Year award by Nadia Cenci (Image: Newsquest)

Business of the Year

  • Karmartri
  • Ipswich Dry Cleaners
  • Woodbridge Road Pharmacy
  • ThinkBiznes
  • Fast Cabs

ThinkBiznes was established in 2015 as a business mentoring, coaching and investment project run by Roland Gilbertson to support people from the BME communities to help them to become successful entrepreneurs.

Through a series of free business programme for new start-ups and black-owner businesses Mr Gilbertson hopes to help 1,000 such businesses become grow in Suffolk.

Mr Gilbertson's said he was grateful to every business he worked with that had helped him become better and was honoured several of them had won awards on Tuesday evening.

Ipswich Star: The Suffolk Kurdish Society was the recipient of the Judges Special Award. The Suffolk Kurdish Society was the recipient of the Judges Special Award. (Image: Newsquest)

Judges Special Award Finalists

  • Suffolk Kurdish Society
  • Ocean Fish Platter
  • Nacton Fish Bar
  • Lucky’s Café
  • Al Amin Halal Grocery Store & Wholesaler

Established in 2018 the Suffolk Kurdish Society was created to provide support to the growing number of Kurdish people both in Ipswich and also the wider community of Suffolk.

Not only have they as an organisation purchased their own premises and turned it into a community centre they have supported hundreds of people since it opened, people who are not only Kurdish but Turkish, African and Asian too.

They host regular events for social, cultural and religious reasons plus ESOL classes for asylum-seekers and through their work in the community promotes social integration and cohesion.