The ‘Stelios Bi-communal Business Awards 2015’ ceremony was held at the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation’s bi-communal café in Nicosia on Monday.
Cash prizes of 10,000 euros each were awarded to 31 bi-communal partnerships in the presence of South Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades.
The awards were launched seven years ago, with the aim of promoting business projects shared between Turkish and Greek Cypriot entrepreneurs.
Founder of the philanthropic organisation Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, said that “we are a political barometer for Cyprus”, pointing out that this year there had been four times as many applications – reaching a record high.
Sir Stelios said that the positive political climate, promotion and publicity and the operation of the first Bi-Communal Café were responsible for the increased number of applications for the awards.
Next year, the grants to be awarded will be increased to 500,000 euros, to be given to 50 bi-communal business partnerships. Over 1.2 million euros have been awarded to around 40 bi-communal business teams since 2009.
In his address, President Anastasiades said that ‘Stelios Bi-Communal Business Awards’ ceremony has become an institution, given that it is taking place for the 7th consecutive year. Essentially, the ‘Stelios Bi-communal Business Awards’ is firmly established as an annual celebration of bi-communal co-operation and creative interaction, he added.
He also said that “through these actions the Foundation is playing an invaluable role in facilitating much-needed contact and re-building the socio-economic bonds of the two communities of the island, which existed for many decades”.
“The impressive outreach and success of these awards should come as no surprise: Greek and Turkish Cypriots collaborated and co-created successfully for decades, proving that their common denominator, their Cypriot identity, and their common desire to prosper together, are strong and lingering,” Anastasiades concluded.
After the ceremony Sir Stelios, along with the winners and participants, walked across the Ledra Street checkpoint to North Nicosia where a second Bi-Communal Café will be built.