The inaugural Northern Asian Powerlist has been released to celebrate the contribution of the British Asian community across the North of England. 

The list showcases 101 influential people and during an online event on Friday. 

The Northern Asian Powerlist event was hosted by Sharon Jandu who developed the idea from her own experiences as a British Asian businesswoman based in Leeds along with Co-Director, Alex Turner. 

She said: “There are some fantastic stories here in this Powerlist and I hope that everybody will take a close look at the stories of grit, of achievement and pushing the boundaries. 

“Against the backdrop of global uncertainty, it is these stories that bring us back to what matters and keeps us optimistic.”

Ms Jandu also explained that the list would now become a bi-annual event and noted that there are 4.3m British Asians in the UK, currently contributing £120bn to the economy every year.

The event also featured speakers including Lord Bilimoria, Founder of Cobra Beer and President of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Roger Marsh, Chair of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Lord Bilimoria said ethnic minorities play a huge role in making the UK the world’s sixth largest economy and that the individuals on the Powerlist would serve as an inspiration for other aspirational people – the younger generation in particular.

He added: “I moved to the UK from India when I was 19 and this country gave me the opportunity to start my own business, Cobra Beer, and build that business over the last three decades. 

“I want to ensure that more talented people – in particular those from BME backgrounds – get the same chance.”

He also noted that ethnic minorities play a huge role in making the UK the world’s sixth largest economy but 69% of FTSE 250 companies still have no ethnic minority board members.

The judging panel included Henri Murison, Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Simone Roche MBE of Northern Power Women and Professor Monder Ram OBE from the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME). 

She said: “Against the background of global uncertainty, whether due to the covid-19 pandemic or political unrest, we are celebrating the brilliance of people across all of our towns and cities in the north of England.

“British Asians have made a substantial contribution to our places and identities and this is about recognising them and their stories. We want these brilliant people to be role models for people of all backgrounds to strive, to achieve and to be their best.”

Lord Bilimoria said: “We have so much talent across all of our communities. This list not only highlights the achievements of a diverse UK Plc and the North in particular but also acts as an inspiration for generations to come.

“For the UK to prosper, it needs to increase its productivity across all regions, and it needs to harness every bit of talent available across the North and beyond.”

Awards were also given under 11 different categories with the winners for 2020 as follows:

Politics and Diplomacy – Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer and MP for Richmond.

Business Leader – Simon Arora, Chief Executive of B&M Group.

Digital Technology – Dr Furqan Alamgir, Founder and Chief Executive of Connexin.

Women in Business – Karina Jadhav, Founder and Director of Menagerie Restaurant.

Emerging Entrepreneur – Sonya Bachra-Byrne, Co-Founder and Creative Director of AVIE.

Emerging Leader – Amir Hussain, Chief Executive of Yeme Architects.

Inspiring Professionals – Syima Aslam, Founder & Director of Bradford Literature Festival.

Thought Leaders – Nazir Afzal OBE, former Chief Crown Prosecutor for North West England.

Cultural Icons – Kully Thiarai, Creative Director of Leeds Culture Trust.

Food and Drink – Mohammed Ishaq, Owner of The Punjab Kitchen.

Social Changemakers – Hanif Malik OBE and Rifhat Malik MBE.