'We can inspire people' - Leeds company co-founders named Black British Business People of the Year

The co-founders of a Leeds security company say they hope to inspire people having been named Black British Business People of the Year.

Monday, 11th October 2021, 4:44 pm
Updated Monday, 11th October 2021, 4:55 pm

Jamal Tahlil and Edgar Chibaka, who launched Leeds-based First Response Group in 2007, walked away with the top prize at this year’s Black British Business Awards (BBBAwards).

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Now in its eighth year, The BBBAwards celebrate the exceptional performance and outstanding achievements of black professionals and business owners in the UK, and empowers organisations with the necessary tools to attract, retain and progress their internal Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic talent.

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Jamal Tahlil, and Edgar Chibaka co-founders of First Response Group Ltd who have been announced as the Business Persons of the Year at the Black British Business Awards. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

This latest honour comes just three months after FRG was crowned as Recognised Service Provider Champion at the Living Wage Foundation Champion Awards, and ten months after it featured in the Sunday Times’10 Fast Track Ones to Watch.

Jamal and Edgar, both African immigrants, started their now multi-million pound business with one laptop, in a small office above a local Leeds kebab shop.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post, Jamal and Edgar expressed that beyond their success they were keen to inspire others, commenting: “It's not just our achievement, it's that we can inspire people and not just black people, not just immigrants but the English people, the Scots, the Welsh.

“The people who are aspiring to go into business but don't know how. Let them draw inspiration, their confidence, their self-esteem. That if Jamal and Edgar can do it then so can I.”

Having started out as a small business above a kebab shop, First Response Group now has over 500 employees.

Growing from that kebab shop, FRG now employs over 500 people, and in July this year reported a sales turnover of £25m. In the process, the profitable business which counts AXA Insurance amongst its top Blue Chip customers, has made two successful acquisitions.

In fact last year, at the height of the pandemic it was brought in by the University of Oxford to bolster security at its Covid-19 research facility.

FRG was recommended for the highly important security detail after successfully demonstrating its expertise and reliability with the University during the first national lockdown.

Beyond their roaring success the pair pride themselves on building a family orientated business explaining: “We have created one of the happiest organisations in the country. Our employees do not have to stress when they make a mistake as we are here to help each other. We look after their well being and their mental health is so important.”

Having arrived in the country in 2000 and 2003 respectively for Jamal and Edgar, Leeds is now very much home: “We love being in Yorkshire, Leeds is a beautiful city and we are settled here. Our families are all in Leeds and we all enjoy being in Leeds.”

For the pair as they look to the future, there will be no sitting and admiring what they have achieved but instead a desire to keep driving forward and expanding the business.

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