08 Feb 2024
by Feron Jayawardene

Birmingham entrepreneurial landscape in the spotlight at Quarterly Business Report launch


The growing entrepreneurial landscape of Greater Birmingham was on the spotlight at the Quarterly Business Report launch.

The event, held yesterday at Birmingham City University was hosted by Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) CEO Henrietta Brealey.

The report, sponsored by Birmingham City University, is the most comprehensive of its kind in the city-region, offering an up-to-date snapshot of the performance of the Greater Birmingham business community.

During the launch, founder and CEO of Jumar, Wendy Merricks highlighted the strong presence of startups in Birmingham alongside the prowess of female entrepreneurism.

She said: “There were 39,355 new businesses formed in the West Midlands in 2022, second only to London, bringing the total of businesses registered in the West Midlands to 211,766. Out of them, 36 per cent are run by women.

“Currently, there are 140,000 women led businesses across the UK, a big shift from the past where in 2018 only 4000 women led businesses were registered.”

Wendy founded Jumar, a digital services firm in 1999 during a time where women led businesses only accounted to only 0.4 per cent.

Wendy continued: “I founded Jumar after my manager said I’ll never be promoted because I was a mother with two kids. This led me to save a year’s worth of salary and start my own business. A year later, the business made £1.2 million.

“Later I had to strategize the business and build a senior leadership team to make it less reliant on me. The team was able to create a great company culture and go through tough challenges including financial depression and Covid19 crisis.”

Speeches were also given by GBCC director of external affairs Raj Kandola, HSBC area director of Birmingham Business Banking Mark Lupton, and Jude Pearson from Birmingham City University.

Raj Kandola said: “The UK economy returned to growth during November but remains at risk of a technical recession.

“The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported an early estimate for output growth of 0.3 per cent for the month, with key contributing factors to this growth being Christmas shopping and the Black Friday sales which, when seasonally adjusted, have driven a 1.3 per cent growth in retail sales volumes.

“Whilst this is positive news for the retail sector, which has experienced over three years of relentless challenges, the unexpected uptick in December's inflation rate to 4.0 per cent could mean that a recovery in consumer spending is delayed, and that the overall economic outlook is less optimistic than economists hoped.

“All eyes will now turn to the Bank of England to see how they respond from a monetary policy point of view - with many businesses now hoping that we've seen the last of interest rate rises.

“However, changes to monetary policies alone are unlikely to help the Government reach it's two per cent inflation target - clearly, fiscal intervention will also be required to alleviate cost pressures that many firms to continue to face.

“With the Spring Budget and General Election on the horizon, now is the right term for the Government to set out its blueprint growth.

Mark Lupton talked about the funding opportunities that are available to SMEs and the free insights provided by HSBC.

He said: “The SME fund launched by HSBC has helped businesses in the UK worth of £15 billion. It also has brought in £800 million to Birmingham SMEs with many funding solutions to micro businesses. We also have an online platform for sustainability which firms can use free of charge.

Jude Pearson spoke about the innovation opportunities available at Birmingham City University.

He said: “There are many innovation opportunities that Birmingham City University are funding including the state of the art of STEAMhouse building.  

“STEAMhouse has been created for ambitious businesses and organisations of all types and sizes.

“We offer unique and flexible workspaces that enable, and actively support your growth with access to collaboration, specialist expertise, digital and production facilities, and a calendar of community events.

Pictured from left to right: GBCC director of external affairs Raj Kandola, Jude Pearson from Birmingham City University, GBCC CEO Henrietta Brealey, HSBC area director of Birmingham Business Banking Mark Lupton, and founder and CEO of Jumar Wendy Merricks

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