By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Over the weekend, those who matter in the business community gathered at the prestigious Lagos Continental Hotel for the 2019 edition of BusinessDay Nigerian Business Leadership Awards.
During the glamorous ceremony, those who have contributed immensely to the nation’s economy in different ways were recognised and honoured by the organisers.
Two of those rewarded for their contributions to the Nigerian service industry were the Group Managing Director of Artee Group, Mr Haresh Keswani, and SPAR.
While Mr Keswani went home with the Lifetime Achievement Award, SPAR, the retail store brand of the group, was given the Retail Brand of the Year award.
The BusinessDay Leadership Awards was created to recognize leaders who have created and sustained outstanding entrepreneurial initiatives and built successful businesses that are strengthening Nigeria’s global competitiveness and attraction as a destination for talent and capital.
According to the organisers, the Sectoral Award won by SPAR was in recognition of its business agility, market share growth, financial strength, leadership vision and resilience in varying economic conditions.
For the Lifetime Achievement Awards won by Mr Keswani, it was in recognition of his pioneering effort in the second-wave retail revolution in Nigeria through the birth of Park ‘n’ Shop, and the business has grown to become a dominant player in the retail industry with over 50,000 metre square under the SPAR brand.
Other businesses managed by him include, Cascade Water in PET bottles; Millennia Furniture and shopping malls in Port Harcourt, Enugu and Calabar.
While expressing delight about the award, Mr Keswani said, “It is a great honour to be nominated for the award as it beams the spotlight on the efforts of the company in touching several lives. I am grateful to God, family, friends and colleagues who have enhanced the vision till date.”
“I am glad to have touched people’s lives in various ways and our organization would not be deterred in supporting laudable initiatives of the government. Many of our businesses are in response to the government’s policies and this has further enhanced the economy of the country. We believe in Nigeria and Nigerians; we know that there are huge opportunities in the country despite the challenges,” he added.
In recent years, Mr Keswani has become an advocate of Human Capital Development and he encourages every leader to be legacy-minded and to focus on the next generation. This led him to the creation of initiatives such, “Next-Gen Role Model” workshops to mentor budding entrepreneurs of Nigeria, “Farmers Academy” to teach farmers how to improve yields and reduce wastages, and “SME Developments Workshops” to train and inspire business owners.
After spending 39 years in Nigeria, he adherently believes in the country and he noted that the business will become a dominant player in the Agriculture and Food Processing space with a sole aim of improving the food value chain.
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