SYED HUMAYUN KABIR
FOUNDER, SAJIDA FOUNDATION
Syed Humayun Kabir (1931 – 2015), chairman of Renata Ltd. and founder of SAJIDA Foundation, is among the country’s most respected professionals and philanthropists. Born in Calcutta in 1931, Syed Humayun Kabir was one of five children of his father Syed Golam Kabir and mother Sara Kabir. His mother passed away in 1935 when he was just four years old. With his father in the government service, the young Syed Humayun Kabir had to transfer to various schools from an early age. He was admitted to the University of Dhaka where he completed his Honours in Chemistry and left for Glasgow, Scotland to study Pharmacy at the University of Strathclyde.
In 1957 Syed Humayun Kabir moved to the Tea Gardens where he started working as an Assistant Manager. In 1961 he was married to Sajida Fahmi and the two spent a few years at the Tea Garden until Syed Humayun Kabir went back to Dhaka and joined Pfizer Industries as Senior Manager.
Syed Humayun Kabir was the first Managing Director of Pfizer Ltd. Bangladesh, which later turned into Renata Ltd. where Syed Humayun Kabir was the Chairman till his death. Syed Humayun Kabir served as Chairman and President of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Bangladesh Employers Association, Foreign Investors’ Chamber of Commerce and Industries, American-Bangladesh Economic Forum and Transparency International Bangladesh. He was also board members of several banks, an insurance company and a trustee of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD). He held board-level association with BRAC since 1972.
Despite Syed Humayun Kabir’s remarkable successes in the corporate world, he was essentially a simple, humble, compassionate and conscientious man who was deeply devoted to helping the poor and disadvantaged. And thus when Renata Pharmaceuticals Ltd. emerged, so did a unique model of social enterprise – SAJIDA Foundation – with 51% shareholding at Renata Ltd. to reach out to those less fortunate.
The organization has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1993 when it was presented as a gift to his wife, Sajida Humayun Kabir on their 25th wedding anniversary. It serves not only as a symbol of philanthropy and goodwill, but also as a unique example of how business can contribute to the common good and corporate social responsibility.
He accredited the growth of SAJIDA to the competence and professionalism of its personnel and the organization’s strong focus on empowering the mother in order to empower the family. The organization is driven by a strong family unit with strong social values of family unity that have been in the family for generations. Going forward, Syed Humayun Kabir emphasized the need to better understand and build knowledge about the poor. He believed that in order to work with and help the poor it is necessary to develop a greater understanding about how they think and react in different situations. As such, he highlighted knowledge at the field level as an important factor in achieving poverty alleviation goals.
Syed Humayun Kabir breathed his last at 6:36 pm on July 7th, 2015 at the age of 83 after a long and difficult struggle with Parkinson’s Disease. Yet even when he was wheelchair bound and struggling with advanced stages of Parkinson’s, Syed Humayun Kabir was dedicated to keep learning and keeping up with the changing times. He would learn how to use new technology for communication from his grandchildren, maintained a journal in his phone and looked up information on the Internet regarding his illnesses and how to best manage them.
Till the very end Syed Humayun Kabir fought for knowledge, empowerment and for a world where everyone embraced their social responsibilities. It is this legacy that his family and SAJIDA Foundation now carry forward and it is through his simple values of sharing and achieving goals that he has changed thousands of lives. The exemplary journey of his life and work is inspiration for future generations to make the world a better place.
|Assistant Manager, Tea Garden, Sylhet||1957-1963|
|Chairman and Member of the Governing Body of BRAC||Member of the Governing Body: 1972 – July 7, 2015
|Chairman & Managing Director of Pfizer Laboratories Ltd. (Bangladesh)||1972 – 1994|
|Chairman of Renata Limited||1994 – 7 July, 2015|
|Director of BRAC Bank Limited||2001-2008|
|Chairman and President of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce & Industry||(Two terms): 1979-1980 & 1984-1985|
|Founding Member of Transparency International – Bangladesh||Founder Chairman: 1996-2001
Member, Trustee Board: 2001-2005
|President of the Bangladesh Employers’ Association||(Two Terms): 1981-1982 & 1982-1983|
|President of the Foreign Investors Chamber of Commerce & Industry||Dec 1991- Nov 1992|
|President of the American- Bangladesh Economic Forum||1988 – 1993|
|Senior Fellow of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies||Jan 1986 – Dec 1988|
|Director of Sadharan Bima Corporation||1979 -1982|
|Trustee of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD)||Founding Member – 16 Nov. 1993|
|Founder of SAJIDA Foundation||1987|
|Executive Director of SAJIDA Foundation||1991-2003|
Lest We Forget | The Daily Star
Salute and farewell, Mr Kabir | DhakaTribune
Humayun Kabir: Remembering a good man | DhakaTribune
Business luminaries remembered | The Daily Star
A man in full | DhakaTribune
Nice guys don’t finish last | DhakaTribune
Syed Humayun Kabir was one of Bangla’s best | The Sunday Guardian
OP-ED: A life led by conscience and things we can learn from it | DhakaTribune