Sakib Awan

Founder and Chair of the Board

Before his life in Timor-Leste, Sakib Awan held management positions in international hotels across three countries for 15 years. That was followed by running his own successful import-export business in Darwin for 10 years, which focussed on exporting high-quality Australian seafood to 10 countries in southeast and north Asian markets. During this time, he also won a tender to supply food staples to the Australian Army stationed in Timor-Leste.

In 1993, Sakib won the Northern Territory New Exporter Award, and in 1994, the Agriculture Exporter Award and overall Exporter of the Year. This led to him being a finalist for the Australian Exporter Awards in 1993 and 1994 in Canberra.

In 1996, seeing the potential on Darwin’s doorstep as Chair of the International Business Council in Darwin, Sakib signed an MOU with the Dili Chamber of Commerce.

In 2002, just as Timor-Leste gained its independence, Sakib seized the opportunity a new country would provide and moved from Darwin to Dili, where he established East Timor Trading Lda.

With his extensive hospitality and sales background, he swiftly became a leading figure in the country’s business community, importing and distributing a range of multinational company brands into the country.

In 2007, Mr Awan opened the Discovery Inn and Diya Restaurant and brought the Gloria Jean’s Coffees and Burger King franchises to Timor-Leste. Whilst expanding the company’s distribution network to cover each of the 13 districts and increasing the range of imported products on offer, Mr Awan also established the company’s own retail outlet, Cheers! Bottle Shops.

Through his roles as Honorary Consul General, his participation with international organisations, and his experience in selling to a range of markets across the Asian region, Sakib has experience dealing with a variety of international bodies, such as Chambers of Commerce, regional cooperation initiatives such as BIMP-EAGA, the United Nations, all levels of governments, and special economic zones such as Australia’s Trade Development Zones.

Sakib Awan’s community positions and awards have included:

  • Order of Timor-Leste from then President Dr Jose Ramos-Horta for Ongoing Commitment to and Services in Timor-Leste, 2012
  • Gold Cross Medal of Merit from the President of Poland, 2021
  • Honorary Consul General for Poland in Timor-Leste, 2012-2020
  • Chairman of the International Business Council within the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Northern Territory of Australia 1996-97
  • Honorary Consul of Mexico in the Northern Territory of Australia from 1993-2006.
  • Rotary International, Paul Harris Fellow
  • Ambassador, Duke of Edinburgh Awards Australia