The Amin al-Zarb Badge (named after a merchant and philanthropist who founded the TCCIMA 135 years ago) and statuette, which is given to successful entrepreneurs and leading thinkers in recognition of their contributions, is usually also attended by senior officials.
Last year Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif received the top badge for his efforts to help improve the international climate for Iran's business community.
First Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri was the special guest this time making his second appearance at the shindig. He choked back tears when talking about the scale and scope of uncertainty and unpredictability visiting the struggling private sector after the US abandoned the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and imposed new economic sanctions.
"The main target of US pressure is on businesses, the innocent people and manufactures. We must, more than ever before, open new windows for the future of our young generation," Jahangiri told the obviously apprehensive business leaders.
He appealed to them to join hands with the government to weather the storm, which said would be transitory and short. Admitting that he is aware of the challenges businesses are facing, Jahangiri noted that “fighting for the cause of private companies is the reason he continues” in his job.
Exporters' largely complained about currency repatriation rules enforced in September and the inundation of cumbersome rules and regulations unleashed ever since.
Exporters say they have no objection to repatriating their currency earnings, but complain that the time limits and compulsion to sell currency only via the Nima (an online platform whose rates are much lower than in the open market) is a major hurdle.
Businesses complain about the speed at which the CBI has issued directives and regulations after it rushed to stabilize the highly volatile forex market by imposing a controversial fixed rate of 42,000 rials to the USD on April 10 (the government scrapped the decision three months later).
Massoud Khansari, president of Tehran Chamber said in his address that businesses are still hopeful despite the present difficulties and are inspired by Amin al-Zarb who donated from his personal wealth to save the people from famine.
"We will do this in spite of being hit by regulations that come our way even before asking our opinion and a government that does not let us play a constructive role" Khansari said.
Jahangiri said under current circumstances the country should do three things:
prioritize import of essential goods
raise the export bar
This year's recipients of Amin al-Zarb Award included Abbas Ali Qassae, founder of Zarrin Porcelain Company with 12,000 tons of annual production, Hamid Reza Hashemi Nia, Chairman of Sam Service and manufacturer of Samsung products in Iran, Soltan hossein Fattahi, founder of Emersan Home Appliance, and Akbar Ebrahimi, chairman of Pakshouma consumer goods company.
The founders of two big startups, namely Aparat video sharing company and Digi Kala, a giant e-commerce company, were also among the favorites.
Iran's equivalent of Amazon and the country's leader in e-commerce was established by twin brothers Hamid and Saeed Mohammadi in 2007. The huge startup now accounts for about 90% of online retail market. The internet behemoth also includes companies that provide services in the IT and communications sectors.
The Iranian equivalent of You Tube, the video-sharing website Aparat, was created in 2010. According to Mohhamd Javad Shakouri, a co-founder, Aparat is now the most popular website in the country (after Google) with almost 36 million monthly visitors from Iran and other Persian-speaking countries (Afghanistan and Tajikistan).
Two intellectuals, Mohammad Ali Movahhed, a renowned author of history and literature, and Ezatollah Fooladvand, a prolific translator of philosophy books, also received the prestigious Amin al-Zarb awards.