The immigrant co-founders of a security company who grew their business into a £25m turnover operation have been named black British businesspeople of the year at a virtual ceremony on Thursday.
Edgar Chibaka and Jamal Tahlil received the top prize at this year’s Black British Business Awards, which celebrate the achievements of some of the UK’s leading corporate bosses and entrepreneurs.
The duo launched First Response Group, which is headquartered in Leeds and employs more than 500 people, from scratch after coming to the UK in 2007.
The event, for which The Telegraph is a media partner, recognised up-and-comers and senior leaders across six industries: arts and media; consumer and luxury; start-ups; financial services; professional services; and STEM (science, tech, engineering and maths).
Vese Aghoghovbia, founder of children’s books and gifts business Philly & Friends, picked up the consumer and luxury rising star award, while Marvyn Harrison of Dope Black Dads was named influencer of the year.
Sophie Chandauka, co-founder and chair of the awards, said: “This year’s winners are not only doing remarkable things in their own organisations, but also their personal lives.”
She praised the “ingenuity, resilience and commercial savviness” of this year’s rising stars and said the winning senior leaders “epitomise” the meaning of role models: “They are leading significant commercial functions whilst acting as wise counsel for their investors, boards of directors and rising talent during the pandemic and period of social unrest.”
Segun Osuntokun of law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner was named black British businessperson of 2020 at last year’s ceremony.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Mr Osuntokun called for business leaders to ensure the momentum behind Black Lives Matter and improving diversity in the City was not just “a moment”.
Black British Business Awards 2021 winners
Black British businesspeople of the year
Edgar Chibaka and Jamal Tahlil, co-founders, First Response Group Ltd
Influencer of the year
Marvyn Harrison, founder, Dope Black Dads
Ally of the year
Kate Priestman, senior vicepresident, R&D, GSK
Arts and media rising star
Hannah Chukwu, assistant editor, Penguin Random House
Arts and media senior leader
Miya Knights, global content strategist, Poq Commerce
Consumer and luxury rising star
Vese Aghoghovbia, founder, Philly & Friends
Consumer and luxury senior leader
Alexandria Dauley, creative director, Dauley Designs
Entrepreneur rising star
Alessandra Madubunyi, director, WE are COCO
Entrepreneur senior leader
Michael Khouri-Bent, managing director, Metropolitan Care Solutions
Financial services rising star
Jordon Clarke, GCM/syndicate global ops project lead, Morgan Stanley
Financial services senior leader
Lara Oyesanya, group general counsel, WorldRemit
Professional services rising star
Samuel Lawrence, vice-president EMEA, mid-market, JLL Technologies
Professional services senior leader
Akima Paul-Lambert, litigation partner, Hogan Lovells
STEM rising star
Nnamdi Emelifeonwu, founder and chief executive, Definely
STEM senior leader
Gareth Dauley, executive vice-president, Pacific Green Technologies