A night of celebration at the Black Country Asian Business Awards


“Always be on the lookout for good ideas if you want to make your fortune”. That was the advice from Perween Warsi, founder and chief executive of Derby-based S&A Foods, who started out in her kitchen at home with just 12 samosas and, despite numerous obstacles, built the operation into one of the UK’s largest suppliers of chilled ready meals.

Speaking at the Black Country Asian Business Association Awards, she emphasised that there was no ‘secret formula’ to success other than determination, good ideas and the ability to learn from mistakes.

Praising BCABA for its ‘vital role’ in supporting Asian entrepreneurs, she highlighted the need for passion in business but, more importantly, for business leaders to be passionate about the ‘best’ ideas.

Good entrepreneurs would have hundreds of ideas throughout their careers, but great entrepreneurs know how to ‘filter’ them, selecting the winning ones that would make their business extraordinary.

The ideas that built fortunes were unique and innovative, bringing something extra to the company. “Keep a close eye out for these ideas, and, when they arrive, grasp them with both hands.”

It was essential to encourage colleagues to generate ideas too. Via a ‘sieve’ system, S&A Foods staff at all levels are invited to put forward their suggestions for the company’s future activity, with the most inspiring selected to be progressed and implemented.

At the heart of S&A Foods’ success, she stressed, was teamwork, dedication and an over-riding commitment to quality.

A good business executive had to focus on a number of key factors throughout his or her career, including constant innovation and finding the right people for the right jobs – those who shared common ‘values, principles and vision’.

Following the event, she added: “The West Midlands is brimming with business talent, and the Black Country Asian Business Association plays an essential role in helping local businesses reach their full potential. It was an honour to share my experiences with such a gifted audience, comprising those who have enjoyed many years of success as well as those who are just starting out with a great adventure ahead of them.

“People need to have faith in their own judgement, recognise a good idea when they see one, and maintain a passion for what they do. My motto is: ‘success is a journey, not a destination’. Remember to enjoy the journey.”

Overall Business of the Year and Innovation and Enterprise winner was West Bromwich clothing and children’s wear manufacturers Mann Brothers.

Over 30 years, the firm have built a reputation for quality garments, supplying all of the major chains and independents in the UK.
With manufacturing plants in India and China, Mann Brothers have recently moved into the supply of corporate wear.

Other winners were:
Business Start Up: Venue Cuisine.
Young Entrepreneur: Sunny Rull, of Support Asia.
Community Excellence: Raaj Radio.
Regeneration: Buffet Express.
International: Perfection Foods.

Ninder Johal, chair of the BCABA, which takes in 2,750 businesses, said: “Despite everything it is reassuring to see that the Asian business community is still thriving.”

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