Samson H Chowdhury

It may not be possible to describe Samson Chowdhury in short. He was a visionary entrepreneur. The esteemed business leader started his career from his ancestral residence in Pabna in 1952. He reached the pinnacle of success through hard labour and honesty. With his innovative ideas, tireless efforts and dedication, he led Square from the front to become the leading manufacturer of quality medicine, toiletries, health products, textiles, agro vet products and information technology. He had contributed a lot to the development of the country's pharmaceuticals and health sector. He remained above controversy of any kind throughout his business career. A personality of such magnitude is very rare to find in the corporate world. Chowdhury's life and achievement with great ideology and ethics will be the landmark for the new generation and businessmen of the country.

A K Azad
Chairman and MD
Ha-Meem Group of Companies
Published: FBCCI Business Magazine
Special Issue, June 2012

For someone who was larger than life, the church seemed to be so small a place that night! It was full of commanding heights from all professions and all religions. It was a gathering of not only the highest elites of our business industry and society but people from all walks of life. It was something I had never seen or witnessed in my life before.

One by one, business leaders, the Christian community leaders, his closest relatives and friends, people from the print and electronic media, his company personnel, diplomats, politicians and commoners all paid profound respect to the great business tycoon who lay still in a coffin as the church bells rang on.

Many winters had brought death with it but this year's winter was unbearable. We lost a great leader of our business community who was a visionary, a guide and a warm companion. In the midst of another political turbulence torpedoing, I wonder who would be coming forward to advocate for us to show more patience, resilience and character. I wonder where we shall find another person, with such humility and humbleness, grace and gentleman-liness.

To me, Samson H Chowdhury was one of the most well-dressed persons I had ever met, a most elegant and well-versed human being. His values, ethics and ideals would surely be imitated by his countless followers and admirers.

MA Momen
Bangladesh Thai Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Published: FBCCI Business Magazine
Special Issue, June 2012

Samson bhai is considered to be different from other businessmen in the country, and in his approach to business he always put people's welfare at the centre of entrepreneurship. Throughout his career, he remained above controversy of any kind.

He did a lot of philanthropic work, both in his ancestral home in Pabna and Dhaka. But he is someone who did all these outside the glare of the spotlight.

ICC Bangladesh was fortunate to have his continuous guidance and support in carrying out its activities. He attended and actively participated in various ICC conferences and congresses held in different capital of the world.

In his passing, we the businesses consider that the nation has lost the Business Legend of our time.

Mahbubur Rahman
ICC Bangladesh
Published: ICC-B News Bulletin
January-March 2012

By all criteria, Mr. Chowdhury was more than his life to almost all of us. An ever-organised and forward-looking person, he was a constant source of inspiration and encouragement to all Bangladesh entrepreneurs, small and large. Even at the age of 84, he was in command of most of the affairs at SQUARE Group, one of landmark private sector business organisations in Bangladesh.

'Quality, quality and quality everywhere' was his motto. We got to see this, while he was putting up Square Biotech, to produce `Insulin' in Bangladesh. He truly believed in there being no short-cut way to success. Every bit of your penny, must be an earned one. His motto made him one of the largest tax payers in this country. His business practices and ethical standards made him a role model for many.

We saw him extremely passionate, while speaking on 'ethics in entrepreneurship' at North South University's School of Business in April 2010. The students who were present during that classroom lecture on 'Entrepreneurship' were simply all too eager to listen to him with rapt attention and yet they did not spare him of answering to many questions with regard to 'entrepreneurial ethics' in an emerging country like Bangladesh that is yet not so much respected for corporate practices. Answering the questions, then 84-year-old but still 'the youngest entrepreneur' of our country, Samson Chowdhury was loud and clear - 'Jodi tor dak sune keu na ashe, tobe ekla cholore' (even if no one comes forward in response to your call, move alone). He never lost hope, too.

Mamum Rashid
Banker and Economic Analyst
Published: The Financial Express
6 January 2012

Samson H. Chowdhury was one of those very rare individuals who touched the hearts and souls of those he came across for his fatherly and friendly loving care. I had the honour of meeting him many times in my official capacity. Like a father, friend and philosopher he used to advise me to be pro-business, pro-investor, pro-taxpayer to promote business and accelerate economic development. He used to share his ideas with me on how the tariff regime could prop up a self-supporting economy, and help shift from trading to industrial base.

Mr. Chowdhury was an embodiment of creativity and simplicity, an icon for good practices of ethics and maintaining best quality in all business affairs; a pioneer in vertical integration and horizontal diversification in an industrial conglomerate; a keen learner; a good employer; a straightforward, friendly, honest, philanthropist. With his innovative ideas, tireless effort and dedication Samson H. Chowdhury led Square Group from the front to become the leading manufacturer of quality medicine, toiletries, health care products, textiles etc.

Good practices and ethics were very much embedded in him. No one forced him to be honest, maintain good practice and ethics, and be upright in dealing with others. These were internal traits that comprised his character. He was extremely passionate when he spoke on ethics in entrepreneurship at North South University's School of Business in April 2010. Every bank felt honoured to give loans to such a transparent and committed customer.

Muhammad Abdul Mazid
Former Secretary and Chairman NBR
Published: The Daily Star
15 January 2013

During his lifetime, Samson H Chowdhury saw the expansion of his diverse business interest but pharmaceuticals remained at the core of his attention till his last day. Square's heavy investments in pharmaceuticals to bring its manufacturing facilities up to the GMP requirements of US FDA, UK MHRA, TGA Australia etc is because of Samson H Chowdhury's insistence. His aim was to provide the country with best possible quality pharmaceuticals and also make Square's presence in the highly regulated markets like UK, USA, Australia, Europe etc. While choosing the manufacturing facilities and the machineries he again insisted on the most recent ones of Europe or US origins because of their GMP compliance and service records.

From people management side he was exemplary again. Despite his stature he was never intimidating and he had a unique ability to make people at ease in his presence. He was unpretentious, supportive and straight forward. He always insisted on understanding the front line executives of the company and always kept his connections with them to understand the progress.

Like many before him Samson H Chowdhury has started a different journey but during his lifetime he built a giant ship from scratch and navigated it through the murky waters of Bangladesh business with unparallel dexterity and determination. Samson H Chowdhury now symbolizes hard work, vision, transparency and foresightedness, a combination very rare in a developing world.

He used to say 'if you love people, God will love you.' This was exemplified through the overwhelming love he received on his demise from the thousands of people from all walks of life irrespective of cast, creed and social status.

Samson H Chowdhury will continue to live and influence people's lives through his creation, the way he lived and above all through his love for everybody.

Muhammadul Haque
Executive Director (Marketing)
Square Pharmaceuticals Ltd
Published: FBCCI Business Magazine
Special Issue, June 2012

Samson H Chowdhury, the legend in the history of entrepreneurship in Bangladesh, is a man of unique and amiable personality. The man showed the way to success with dynamic leadership which made him 'the leader of the leaders' and such personality seldom born.

He believed in transparency and accountability and was committed to the ideals and principles of good governance. He was not only a pioneer industrialist but also pioneer in setting up example of corporate social responsibility to uphold corporate citizenship. As a man of integrity he was one of the leading and premier taxpayers of the country without hiding the real income.

He always thought for the people and his activities circled around public welfare. He was a great patriot and contributed directly to the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971. He helped the freedom fighters his best, sought help from the outer world and also sent his three sons in the liberation war. He believed in the development of private sector through which a country can go forward to the path of economic development, thus he contributed to the development of the fragile economic condition of Bangladesh after the liberation.

As a trade body leader he is a model in the sense that he always advocated for the betterment of business community as a whole irrespective of individual industry. His greatness lies in contributing for the education of the common mass especially the poor people and sets his apart from his contemporaries in this context.

Murshed Murad Ibrahim
Managing Director
Crystal Fisheries Limited
Crystal Steels & Ship Breaking Ltd
Published: FBCCI Business Magazine
Special Issue, June 2012

Samson Chowdhury was more of an entrepreneur than a capitalist, who shared the cake with everyone around. His innovative ideas would lead to new products or processes. He would then mobilise finance, men and material to produce the product and reach it to market, oftener than not, for mass consumption. The whole gamut of actions would yield him a return, profit as one will call it. He was not shy to enjoy the return. He did not profess himself to be an altruistic loser; at the same time he did not like to submit himself to pernicious greed. He aspired to be a good man, a lovable friend to his fellow beings, a prince among them. He succeeded, much too well.

I used to see Mr. Chowdhury from a distance since early nineties in high level meetings, seminars, conferences and workshops. He was a man you could not help noticing, wherever he was. We came closer when I was Secretary, Internal Resources Division (IRD) and Chairman, National Board of Revenue (NBR). He paid his tax regularly, but was not shy to take full advantage of tax rules, including VAT and custom rules, to reduce the amount of tax due from him. In discussions or debates I found him logical, sober and decent even when I differed with him. I feel that we developed a mutual respect for each other. After my departure from NBR we met, infrequently though, mostly in ceremonial events. Out feelings towards each other remained unaltered.

I now come back to my original point. In a country infested with bank default, stock market scam, syndicated machination, tax dodging, influence peddling, land grabbing, fund misappropriating, tender hijacking, shoddy deals and under-world transactions any big industrialist or an ultra-rich person is a suspect, to be held in low esteem. They fit in well with the Marxian stereotype. Samson Chowdhury is a rare exception. I have not met any person, not even an orthodox ideologue, who had a bad word for this hard working, soft spoken and well disposed great man.

Saadat Husain
Former Chairman
Public Service Commission
Published: The Daily Star
January 25, 2012

The late Chairman of Square Group was known in the pharmaceutical industry as "Chacha," a befitting sobriquet for an unmistakably avuncular figure. With his height, large frame, and sartorial elegance he could easily stand out in any crowd. However, it was the gravitas of his demeanour coupled with a remarkable sense of candidness that placed him several leagues ahead of ordinary men.

"The truth must out," was his modus operandi. To Chacha, the opaque language of diplomacy always took a backseat to an assertive and straight-from-the-hip presentation of one's point-of-view. This straightforwardness stemmed largely from the fact that, unlike some businessmen in this country, Chacha had no skeletons in his cupboard and thus, was under no compunction to compromise his principles, nor resort to hidden agendas in furtherance of his business.

To its credit, Square Group has eschewed use of the all-too-well-known shenanigans as growth strategies. To those who knew him closely, Chacha lamented the rise of "thugs" in the business world. He, therefore, made a conscious decision to remain clean and transparent. He was convinced that "thuggery" only brings in short-term benefits at the expense of long-run prospects.

Syed Kaiser Kabir
CEO and Managing Director
Renata Limited
Published: the Daily Star
10 January 2012

Samson H Chowdhury is the name of an institution. He is a hero to his followers, a business icon to his contemporaries and a role model to young entrepreneurs. Samson was one of those very rare individuals who touched many hearts, especially to me, he came across with his fatherly and friendly care.

It was 1989 when I first met him. A good friendship developed between us though he was 16 years older to me. A down to earth Samson never gave a feeling to his peers and colleagues of his giant image in his own right. I found Mr Chowdhury as an amiable man and a legendary entrepreneur of ethics, honesty and integrity, who is a source of inspiration for future generations.

He had proved how honesty, dedication and commitment could put a person at the highest peak of success. His honesty in business earns him this respect across the spectrum.

It’s really astounding that Mr Chowdhury was not only a business icon, but also a champion in the corporate world who never fell short on ethics and transparency. He set the standard of ethics and values. The man behind Square always believed that there is no short-cut to success. Samson Chowdury helped shape the country’s pharmaceuticals industry. He started in Pabna and brought his venture to Dhaka. His journey did not stop there. He took his company to the international stage which was not done overnight.

For me, it is Mr Chowdhury’s integrity, honesty, dedication, hard work and obviously good behavior, which make him different from others in the business world and I am sure these will be a source of inspiration for the country’s businessmen and also for the next generation to follow.

Syed Manzur Elahi
Apex Adelchi Footwear Ltd
Published: FBCCI Business Magazine
Special Issue, June 2012