First Muslim to lead chamber will focus on China and USA
BIRMINGHAM’S chamber of commerce has appointed its youngest ever president who will also be the first Muslim to take up the post.
Saqib Bhatti succeeds in the role at Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce from former Birmingham Airport chief Paul Kehoe.
At 33, he is the youngest person to take on the post in the chamber’s 205-year history.
Mr Bhatti is a director at accountancy firm Younis Bhatti & Company and graduated from the London School of Economics in 2007.
He was a member of the then Institute of Asian Businesses and became its president for four years and is now a director of both the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and Westside Business Improvement District.
Mr Bhatti is also a senior policy adviser to the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe.
He said he planned to focus on two themes during his two-year tenure as president of the chamber.
“As a region, we have a trade surplus with China and the United States,” he said.
“Our small and medium businesses, however, are still not exporting enough and the opportunities are out there. I believe we are best positioned to start addressing the gap.
“My second focus will be to champion the contribution that our businesses make to the economy and to society. Businesses can be and are a force for good.
“Too often, however, we are overlooked or worse, vilified as a community when something goes wrong with a minority.
“As the new president, I am determined to ensure that our leaders and policy makers recognise the immense contribution that our 3,000-strong membership make to the economy and to not take us for granted.”
Mr Bhatti will start his presidency at the chamber’s annual general meeting on Friday.
Reflecting on the past year, chief executive Paul Faulkner said: “I am delighted that we have again recorded a strong financial performance for the 2017/2018 financial year.
“The chamber continues to make surpluses sufficient to fulfil our pension fund obligations and increase our revenue reserves.
“And this has allowed improve member services our investment plan.
“We have deliberately reorganised our operations so that we could derisk the business going forward by creating income streams that are less dependent on any single element of the business.” us to through
> Chamber chief executive Paul Faulkner (right) with Saqib Bhatti