LORD KARAN FARIDOON BILIMORIA, founder of Cobra Beer and crossbench peer, made history when he became the first person from an ethnic minority background to be elected president of the Confederation of British Industry on June 16, 2020 – right in the middle of the pandemic.
The CBI, which has 190,000 members and employs seven million people, is regarded as “the voice of British industry”. Its membership includes FTSE100 and FTSE250 companies, as well as SMEs.
As CBI president throughout the pandemic, Bilimoria has been instrumental in initiating and convincing the government to provide free lateral flow tests to businesses and citizens and to encourage regular lateral flow testing – to have mass testing as opposed to mass isolation.
At the beginning of the pandemic, he was also one of the first in the UK to call for the government to provide guaranteed loans to SMEs to enable them to survive. And also, one of the first, over a year ago, to call for the government to work with the same urgency they did for the vaccination task force, to help bring antiviral treatments with urgency. This was achieved – and “we have the Merck and Pfizer antivirals available, with Pfizer having shown in trials, 89 per cent prevention of hospitalisations and deaths,” he said.
He has also been instrumental in helping the government with trade deals including rolling over 66 EU bilateral deals, as well as with the Australia and New Zealand Free Trade Agreements and initiating the negotiations on the India FTA.
“We’re obviously helping our members and our businesses to survive and to get through to the spring and then, with the help of the government, providing the bridge to get through the crisis and the pandemic to when we can bounce back,” he pledges. “So I’m