Hamdi Ulukaya, the founder of Chobani, based in the United States, was named the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year 2013 at an awards ceremony held in Monte Carlo’s Salle des Etoiles on 8 June.
Hamdi was picked from among the 49 country finalists vying for the title across 47 countries, each of whom had already been named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in their home countries.
Turkish-born Ulukaya moved to the US in 1994 with $3 000 and unable to speak English. He went to business school, but never finished.
He founded Chobani in upstate New York in 2005 and launched Chobani Greek Yogurt two years later. Today it is the best-selling yogurt brand in the US with annual sales approaching $1 billion.
Chobani has 3 000 employees and operates the largest yogurt factory in the world, selling products to Australia and the UK as well as the US.
“I’m delighted and honoured to receive this award and I would like to dedicate this to our fans, employees, local communities and health professional friends,” said Ulukaya. “Without them, none of our successes would have been possible.”
Epitomising the American dream
“Hamdi has rightly been called the personification of every immigrant’s American dream,” said Maria Pinelli, Ernst & Young’s global vice chair for strategic growth markets. “He has achieved fantastic success in a relatively short space of time.”
Over the past 26 years, entrepreneurs have done more than any other group to stimulate innovation, job creation and prosperity during both periods of growth and in more challenging economic conditions, according to Jim Turley, outgoing global chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young.
“Hamdi epitomises the vision and determination that set entrepreneurs apart and is very worthy of the title Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013.”
Entrepreneurs to be celebrated
Although Hamdi is truly an inspiring entrepreneur, Mark Weinberger, who will succeed Turley as global chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young, said the 49 women and men who were honoured at the event and the thousands of entrepreneurs who enter this prestigious programme every year are all winners.
“Now more than ever, we must acknowledge, celebrate and learn from these remarkable people,” he added.