Unity Trust Bank – a key part of the Birmingham business landscape for nearly 40 years – is celebrating after winning the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce Business of the Year award.
The Brindleyplace bank, which also won the Contribution to Community category, was originally founded by the trade unions in 1984 to serve the common good. The awards – hosted by broadcaster Ed James – took place at the ICC in Birmingham on Thursday night with around 1,100 guests in attendance.
The event was supported by headline sponsors Birmingham City University, Elonex, Schumacher Packaging and headline partners Birmingham City Council. Judges praised Unity Trust Bank’s mission to “create a better society, delivering impact not simply maximising profits.”
In 2022 the bank recruited seven new commercial banking officers for the region and three new relationship managers covering North and South Birmingham, the Black Country and Sutton Coldfield, taking the size of its frontline Midlands team to 20 people.
Net lending increased by £63 million to £786 million in H1 2022, including an additional 99 borrowers accessing loans through responsible finance providers. The lending supported 149 jobs, enabled 384 people in safe housing, created/renovated 488 bed spaces, provided 504 day care spaces and 89 community facilities.
The Birmingham bank unveiled two new charity partnerships for 2022/23, with the Prince’s Trust and Fareshare. Chief executive Deborah Hazell says the bank loans to applicants with a solid financial base, a good credit risk and the ability to demonstrate social purpose. The minimum loan level is £250,000.
Deposit clients include the likes of charities, parish councils, care organisations or trade unions, all with a social purpose, and the bank also supports Community Development Financial Institution Funds.
In 2022 Unity extended its established employee volunteering programme, initially launched in 2009, with the unveiling of Unity and Me, described as a ‘vibrant and engaging employee experience.’
Katrina Cooke, the GBCC’s chief commercial officer and chair of the awards judging panel, said: “A huge congratulations to Unity Trust Bank on winning the Greater Birmingham Business of the Year award.
“The judges were extremely impressed by the standard of entries for this year’s awards, which reflect the breadth, diversity and talent of businesses across the region. Thank you to all those who took the time to enter.”
Meanwhile, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce president Deb Leary’s President’s Award went to the team behind the success of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Professor Geoff Thompson, deputy chair of the Birmingham 2022 organising committee, collected the award on behalf of all the partners, volunteers and businesses involved in last summer’s Games.
Deb Leary said: “Birmingham 2022 became a home Games for every nation. With the iconic Raging Bull on opening night through to the legendary Ozzy Osborne closing the event, the Games captured the imagination of the city, the region, the UK and the world.”
Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Business Award 2023 winners:
- Greater Birmingham Business of the Year, sponsored by Crowe - Unity Trust Bank
- Excellence Contribution to Community, sponsored by runyourfleet - Unity Trust Bank
- Excellence in Customer Service, sponsored by Birmingham Airport - Intercity Technology
- Excellence in Hospitality and Retail, sponsored by Pinsent Masons - KIBOU Japanese Kitchen and Bar
- Excellence in International Business, sponsored by Gowling WLG - Y International UK Ltd
- Excellence in Manufacturing, sponsored by University of Birmingham - Webster and Horsfall & Latch and Batchelor
- Excellence in People Development, sponsored by GuruYou - Fleet Evolution
- Excellence in Responsible Business, sponsored by Aston University - Serco Restart Scheme
- Excellence in Sales and Marketing, sponsored by Birmingham City University - Park Regis Birmingham
- Excellence in Sustainability,sponsored by South & City College Birmingham - Birmingham County Football Association
- Excellence in Technology and Innovation, sponsored by Close Brothers Asset Management - runyourfleet
- Excellence in Third Sector, sponsored by Unity Trust Bank - Molly Ollys
- Excellence in Training and Development, sponsored by University College Birmingham - BMet College