|Current region||Bangladesh, Chittagong|
|Earlier spellings||Isfahani (original Persian)|
|Place of origin||Isfahan|
|Members||Haji Mohammed Hashem |
Mirza Ahmad Ispahani
Mirza Mehdy Ispahani
Mirza Ali Behrouze Ispahani
Mirza Abol Hassan Ispahani
|Heirlooms||M. M. Ispahani Limited|
|Estate(s)||Sylhet: Mirzapore, Ghazipore, Zarreen; Chittagong: Neptune|
The Ispahani family are a Perso-Bengali business family in Bangladesh which owns and manages the Ispahani Group, one of the country's leading conglomerates. Originally hailing from Isfahan, Iran, the family have been settled in Bengal for more than a century.
Mirza Abu Talib Ispahani visited England in 1799, and the family have maintained a presence and properties in Richmond, London. In 1820, Mohammed Hashim (1789–1850) moved from Isfahan in Qajar Iran to Bombay and established the Ispahani Group business. In the 1830s, the business extended to Calcutta in Bengal. Hashim was notable as the first Muslim of the Assam Tea Company's Calcutta Committee. The family business also expanded from Madras in the south and Burma in the east. Many of their descendants were educated at English private schools and top universities in UK.
Hashim's grandson, Mirza Mehdy (1841–1913) made Madras as the business's headquarters. He spent twelve years in Cairo, Egypt trading Indian produce such as leather, tea, turmeric, tamarind and peanuts amongst others. In 1888, he established a branch in Dacca.
Mirza Mohamed Ispahani was the son of Mehdy and was born in 1871. Mohamed established the Calcutta office of MM Ispahani & Sons in 1900. In the same year, a branch office was also established in London. Mohammed passed away in 1925.
Mirza Ahmad Ispahani (1898–1986), the eldest son, joined the partnership in 1918. He established the private limited company, M.M. Ispahani Limited in 1934 in Calcutta along with his younger brothers Abul Hassan Isphani and Mirza Mahmood Ispahani. Abul Hassan left the family business in 1936 when he became the Joint Secretary of the Bengal branch of the Muslim League. The following year, he became a member of the Bengal Legislative Assembly. He then became Deputy Mayor of Calcutta Municipal Corporation in 1941. In 1945, he was made President of the Muslim Chamber of Commerce in Calcutta, which he continued until 1947. This involved duties such as leading a trade delegation in the Middle East. In 1946, he became a member of the Constituent Assembly of India. Hassan also remained treasurer of the Muslim League until 1947. After the Independence of Pakistan, he became the Ambassador of Pakistan to the USA for 5 years. He was then the Minister of Industries and Commerce until 1955.
The final move of headquarters was made in 1947 with the shifting of the corporate headquarters to Chittagong in the newly created Dominion of Pakistan where it stands today. The Company continued to operate as a foreign company in Calcutta until 1965 when its operations in India were taken over by the Government of India. It was under the visionary leadership of Ahmad that the company rapidly expanded its business. By 1947, MM Ispahani Limited was a leading exporter in shellac, kapok, hessian, jute bags, tea and chemicals. In 1948, Mirza Ahmad Ispahani left the family business for public service in Pakistan (which included what is now Bangladesh).
Abul Hassan's son, Mirza Mehdy Ispahani (1923-2004) was made chairman of M.M. Ispahani Limited in 1949 and remained in that post until he died, when his son Mirza Ali Behrouze Ispahani was elected chairperson of M.M. Ispahani Limited.
The company now has corporate offices in Chittagong, Dhaka and Khulna where it employs over 20,000 people in many sectors such as tea, textile, real estate, crisps, poultry, shipping and internet services.
- Hossain, Ashfaque. "Ispahani Family". Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh. Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
- Chatterji, Joya (1994). Bengal Divided: Hindu Communalism and Partition, 1932-1947. Cambridge University Press. p. 80. ISBN 0-521-52328-1.
- "The four winners of Bangladesh Business Awards 2003". The Daily Star. 2004-03-20. Retrieved 2008-02-10.
- "Mirza Mehdy Ispahani passes away". The Daily Star. 2004-01-21. Retrieved 2008-02-10.